If you are using an unrealizable Internet connection, such as a distant Wi-Fi hotspot, you can put Offline Gmail into Flaky Connection Mode. This makes Gmail use the downloaded or cached data as if you were disconnected, but continues to automatically synchronizes your mail. This might prevent errors when you loose Internet connectivity during sending messages or changing settings. To toggle the Flaky Connection Mode on or off, simply hover over the icon in the upper right corner of the web browser and click the link.
Configuring and using a email client
If you rather use a email client application, you must first choose the access type, POP3 (called just POP in Gmail) or IMAP. Using IMAP is great if you check your email from multiple computers or devices, as the messages always remains on the server. The messages in the folders (Inbox, Drafts, Old, Sent, etc.) will appear the same among all the computers. POP3 access doesnt provide this email storage feature. Once messages are checked with POP3 they are downloaded to the client and messages can't be retrieved later with other clients.
The catch about IMAP is that the amount of messages that can be saved on the server is limited to the shortage space you're allowed to use. For example, Gmail currently gives you over 7 gigabytes. This is probably more than enough if you're okay with permanently deleting some of your old messages, but if you want to keep an archive of all messages and their attachments indefinitely, you might run into problems down the road.
Once you choose the access type, you must enable it for your Gmail account. Log into your account, click the Settings link, and click the Forwarding and POP/IMAP tab. Then select the enable option for either POP or IMAP and hit Save Changes.
Now you can configure your email client application. The server address for incoming email is pop.gmail.com for POP3 access (on the SSL 995 port) and imap.gmail.com for IMAP access (on the SSL 993 port). The outgoing mail server (SMTP) is smtp.gmail.com for both access types (on the SSL 965 port) with authentication. For the server login credentials, use your Gmail email address for the username and its password for the server password.
For step-by-step instructions on configuring particular client applications, use Gmail's Configuration Instructions from the Forwarding and POP/IMAP section of your account settings.
Try other Gmail Lab projects
Ive covered how offline email access can be convenient, the advantages/disadvantages of Offline Gmail and client applications, and using POP3 vs. IMAP access. Plus we set up our desired method. Now you can check other lab projects available for Gmailjust see the Labs tab in your account settings.
Eric Geier is an author of many computing and networking books, including Home Networking All-in-One Desk Reference For Dummies (Wiley 2008) and 100 Things You Need to Know about Microsoft Windows Vista (Que 2007).