Fix Gmail's failure to launch in Chrome and other browsers

When Gmail won't load in Firefox or Chrome, you've got several options for coaxing your inbox into view, although Google hasn't yet offered a permanent solution to the problem.

Dennis O'Reilly Former CNET contributor
Dennis O'Reilly began writing about workplace technology as an editor for Ziff-Davis' Computer Select, back when CDs were new-fangled, and IBM's PC XT was wowing the crowds at Comdex. He spent more than seven years running PC World's award-winning Here's How section, beginning in 2000. O'Reilly has written about everything from web search to PC security to Microsoft Excel customizations. Along with designing, building, and managing several different web sites, Dennis created the Travel Reference Library, a database of travel guidebook reviews that was converted to the web in 1996 and operated through 2000.
Dennis O'Reilly
2 min read

Google's Chrome browser is noted for being faster and smaller than Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Mozilla's Firefox. That's why it caught me by surprise when Gmail wouldn't load in Chrome but would open without a problem in Firefox and IE.

A quick Web search led to a thread on the Chrome Help forum dating back to March 2009 but updated as recently as this month. Several solutions to the Gmail slowdown were proposed in the thread, but it appears that Google engineers haven't yet figured out why Gmail sometimes balks in Chrome.

The fix that worked for me was clearing Chrome's cache. To do so, click the wrench icon in the top right of the browser window and choose Options > Under the Hood. Click the "Clear browsing data" button, select the items you want to delete, and choose "Clear browsing data" once again.

Google Chrome Clear Browsing Data dialog
One possible fix for Gmail's inability to open in Chrome is to clear the browser's cache via the 'Clear browsing data' dialog box. screenshot by Dennis O'Reilly/CNET

If clearing Chrome's cache doesn't get Gmail loading again, the simplest alternative workaround is to press Ctrl-Shift-N to open an incognito window prior to signing into your Gmail inbox. This temporary technique worked for me as well, but another proposed solution--using an encrypted connection (HTTPS) to open Gmail--didn't get my inbox to appear.

Google's advice for slow page loading
The Google Help page for Gmail-loading problems suggests you make sure your browser is up-to-date. Since Chrome updates automatically, this should be a no-brainer, but to make sure you have the latest Chrome version, click the wrench icon and choose About Google Chrome to open a window listing the version number and indicating whether an update is available.

About Google Chrome dialog
The About Google Chrome window shows the current version and whether an update is available for download. screenshot by Dennis O'Reilly/CNET

Google's help site identifies three causes for the problem: a conflict with a security app or other software on your system, a browser cache in need of clearing, and a temporary outage of the Gmail servers. Disabling your security software is rarely a good idea, but it's okay to do so temporarily to see whether the app is the source of the problem.

The Gmail help page provides specific information for several security programs, as well as for a handful of browser extensions, including Better Gmail and Firebug. The page also lists instructions for clearing the cache, cookies, and other temporary files in IE, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari.

For possible solutions to other Gmail problems, scan the Gmail Known Issues page, which suggests remedies for about two dozen common Gmail glitches. The next time you encounter a problem with Gmail or another Google service, visit the Google Apps Status Dashboard to find information on recent outages.