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Offline Gmail no longer shuns attachments

No, Google hasn't forgotten about improving offline use of its Web apps. Gmail now can handle attachments when a computer is off the network.

Gmail users now can attach files to messages with the offline version of Google's Web-based e-mail service.

"Starting today, attachments work just the way you would expect them to whether you are online or offline," said programmer Andy Palay in a blog post Tuesday. "If you have Offline Gmail enabled, you'll notice that all your mail now goes through the outbox, regardless of whether you're online or offline. This allows Gmail to capture all attachments, even if you suddenly get disconnected from network."

It's no paradigm-shifting change by itself, to be sure, but it is one more step in Google's overall effort to make Gmail--one of its premiere Web applications--as robust as PC-based competition such as Microsoft Outlook.

It's also a sign that the company hasn't lost interest in the general technology. Google added offline features to Gmail and to some parts of Google Docs and Google Calendar, but has been proceeding at something of a stately pace in spreading the technology.

Google uses software it developed called Gears to provide the offline support, but the HTML standard used to describe Web sites is getting its own support in the HTML5 specification under development now. Google has begun the process of building that feature, called local storage, into its Chrome browser.