Some of my friends work in corporate environments and often I have to answer a very common concern – how do I open Gmail when it is blocked?
Most private companies or organizations provide limited internet access to employees. You are only allowed to access the official email account and that too during specific hours of the day.
Here are some workarounds to access Gmail when it is blocked. Some of them might not work because the IT guys at your office may have installed a network monitoring program, hence completely blocking any access to non work related websites. But you can try these tricks one after another, some of them might just work.
1. Forward All Emails to A Secondary Email Address:
The best solution for accessing blocked Gmail emails is to forward all incoming emails to your Yahoo, Hotmail or any other email account. To set it up – open Gmail inbox, go to settings. switch to the “Forwarding and POP/IMAP” tab and add a forwarding address.
You can enter your corporate email address to access Gmail emails from company’s email inbox. But be very careful, because often the IT administrators monitor the activity of your official email account.
My suggestion would be to search for a not so reputed email provider ( e.g zapak.com), sign up for a free account and add this email address as a forwarding address in your Gmail settings. Chances are that the administrators will block only the reputed email providers e.g Gmail, Google Apps, Yahoo, Hotmail etc.
2. Use Gmail Filters
If you want to forward only a few emails from Gmail to a secondary email address, it’s advised to create Gmail filters. Login to your Gmail account, go to settings and switch to the filter tab. Choose a to or from address, set up your Gmail filter and add a forwarding address in the last step.
This filter will scan incoming emails in Gmail and automatically forward them to your secondary email account. Might be useful when you want to transfer only specific emails to a secondary email address.
3. Try Different URL’s
If the admins are using a simple technique like Hosts file to block Gmail or Google Talk, there are chances that they haven’t added all the URL’s to the block list. You can try these alternate Gmail access URL’s to access Gmail inbox when blocked:
- http://www.gmail.com or https://www.gmail.com
- http://gmail.com or https://gmail.com
- http://googlemail.com or https://googlemail.com
Prior to this, you might want to perform a quick check on the Windows hosts file stored at C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc and see whether an exception is added at the bottom of the hosts file. If you find that the hosts file is the culprit for blocking Gmail access, delete the lines and save the hosts file ( see example )
4. The Mobile Version – m.gmail.com
The mobile version of Gmail can be another alternative way to open Gmail inbox when it’s blocked in office. Try http://m.gmail.com or https://m.gmail.com and see whether the mobile version is allowed access or not.
5. Use Desktop Email Clients to Access Gmail Inbox
If you have administrative rights to install software applications on the office computer, try setting up Gmail with Microsoft Outlook, Windows Live mail or Thunderbird. These email clients will download all Gmail emails (including attachments) via POP in the office computer and you don’t have to use the web version all the time.
6. Use a Private Google Group
Go to Google groups and set up a new Google group, remember to choose the visibility level as “private”. You will then be given a unique email address e.g firstname.lastname@example.org. Any message sent to this email address will be posted to the Google group you created and can be read by logging into your Google groups account.
Now, open your Gmail inbox and create a new filter. Select all incoming emails and forward it to the private Google Group’s email address. This filter will automatically forward any incoming email to your Google group, now you can read the messages by logging into your Google Groups account.
This method might just work in case Gmail is blocked at office, while Google Groups isn’t.
7. Use Google Desktop
Try installing Google Desktop on the office computer and check whether you are able to login to your Gmail inbox. Google desktop might just bypass the blocked IP addresses, high chances that it won’t work but still give it a try.
8. Proxy Servers
Just a simple Google search for Gmail proxy servers and you will find a lot of sites for accessing blocked Gmail through proxy servers. Some of these proxy websites may be already blocked by your organization, but considering the fact that new proxy servers are emerging every hour – you will certainly find one that isn’t blocked already by your office firewall.
9. Get Emails as RSS Feeds
You can use Mailbucket – a free service to convert emails into RSS feeds and read directly from an RSS reader like Feeddemon, Google Reader or Newsgator. This procedure might work because the service will fetch the feed items from their servers (and not from mail.google.com) but at the same time it’s a bit risky to share your email credentials with a third party service.
When Nothing Works ?
So you have tried all the above techniques to bypass your office’s firewall but can’t access Gmail inbox. In such cases, here is the ultimate tip.
Dump the corporate network connection – get a mobile phone with high speed internet access and use it to access your Gmail inbox. The office admins will have no control on the external internet connection that’s served directly to your mobile by the mobile internet provider. Agree that the mobile UI of Gmail is much slower than the web version, but do we have a choice ?