The Ultimate Gmail Troubleshooting Guide

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Gmail on iPhone screen (caption: Guide to Gmail Troubleshooting)Gmail is one of the most popular, if not the most popular email client on the market. It’s free, it’s accessible, and it leverages the power of Google search to help you search and sort your emails at lightning speed. The tagging system helps you organize your inbox with semantic filters that can be adjusted on the fly. And the spam filter is one of the best on the market.

So why do we continue to get inundated with troubleshooting requests for Gmail? Like most IT services and software that live in the cloud, Gmail is constantly being updated and improved, which also introduced the occasional error. And we’ll be the first to mention that sometimes the real error is in the chair, not the computer (PICNIC – Problem In Chair, Not In Computer).  Here are some of the most common support questions we’ve received, and their possible causes and solutions. Don’t see yours? Ask us in the comments!

Article Overview

Gmail Will Not Load

Gmail loadingHaving problems loading Gmail? In other words, you try to sign in to your Gmail account but the page keeps loading and reloading without going anywhere? Here’s some things you can try.

Try A Different Browser

This is always our go-to first step with any website or web service troubles – switch a browser and see if that resolves your issue. If this solves it, you may need to clear cookies and cache in the browser that wasn’t working.

Try Incognito Mode

Alternatively, load “private” or “incognito” mode in the browser you’re experiencing troubles with (these modes load a lean version of the browser with potentially conflicting add-ons, cookies, etc. disabled).

Add Gmail to Your Browser’s List of Trusted Sites

One of our readers found another solution that appears to work: adding https://www.google.com/ to your browser’s list of trusted internet sites.

Enable Cookies and Clear Cache

Clearing cacheMake sure you have cookies enabled for Gmail.com, and try clearing your web browser’s cache.  See our article on how to clear the cache in various browsers and why. If that doesn’t work, browse to google.com, and in the top right corner sign out the user (if they’re signed in). Then sign in yourself, and click on the “Gmail” link at top left. If that doesn’t work, we suggest you download and try a new browser.

Verify The Security And Validity Of Your Email Address

One of the first things you’ll want to do is verify the current reputation of your email address. You can do this by simply doing a Google search on your email address and checking out the results pages it appears on. You can track spammers and fraudulent use of your email address this way.

You can also run your email server (the server that processes your emails, contact your email service provider (ESP) for details) through a blacklist checker to see if there’s any issues on the server level (that is rare for established ESP’s, but if the server has been blacklisted, any email addresses on that server will be affected).

Stuck In An Infinite “Loading” Loop

This is an issue that we’ve heard about from many readers applying to the Firefox web browser, that causes the Gmail page to redirect in an infinite loop. The key to solving this problem is signing in to the secure version of Gmail at https://www.google.com/gmail/.

Stuck on “Loading…”

There’s various scenarios that might occur in this situation:

  • You might get stuck on the “loading…” screen
  • You might see a blank screen
  • You might get redirected to the basic Gmail version

In most cases, upgrading your browser will solve the issue. If it doesn’t, try switching browsers (ie. from Internet Explorer to Firefox or vice versa). If that still doesn’t work, try shutting down your firewall, anti-virus, anti-spyware, etc., temporarily, and see if that solves it. If it does, you might need to investigate one piece of software at a time to track down what’s causing the problem. Then either get in touch with the vendor to see if there’s a compatibility issue or switch to another provider. Finally, if none of that works, feel free to rant below in the comments section!

McAfee Site Advisor Plugin

If you’re using the Chrome (Google) browser and you get stuck on loading, try disabling the McAfee Site Advisor plugin (you can access your plugins by typing “chrome://plugins” in your browser address bar.

Are You Accessing Gmail In Offline Mode?

If you’re using your Gmail offline, and you’re having problems with mail syncing correctly, or shortcuts and bookmarks behaving strangely, try disabling the “always use HTTPS” option. To do so, sign into Gmail and click on Settings. Set the “browser connection” to either don’t or always use HTTPS (you want Gmail to use it either all or none of the time, you don’t want it waffling back and forth between the two – that’s what causes the synchronization issues).

Disable Firefox And Google Plugins (Including Java)

Reports we’ve received suggest that it may be worth trying to disable Firefox plugins, in particular the Google Gears plugin, the Slipstream Accelerator extension, and Java. If removing or uninstalling Java works, you might simply need to update your Java installation.

Clear Cache, Then Reset PC

Some reports indicate that clearing your browser’s cache and restarting your browser may not be enough. Try a full PC reboot and see if that works.

Stop spam signWindows Hosts File/ Spyware

Check your hosts file in C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc\hosts.

If you can’t access it (i.e. you get ‘Access denied – C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc\hosts’), make sure an anti-spam program isn’t blocking access. If you still can’t access it, try restoring permissions with the following command:

attrib -r -h C:\WINDOWS\system32\drivers\etc\hosts

If that doesn’t work, you can try using the ICACLS command to regain control of the file.

The Connection Has Timed Out

If you’re getting the message “The connection has timed out. The server at www.google.com is taking too long to respond.“, and other web pages are loading fine, try accessing Google from another PC on your local network. If that works, the issue is local to your PC, and one of the above suggestions should resolve the problem. You may also need to check your firewall settings and ensure that there’s not a custom setting blocking access to Gmail.

Compatibility Mode In Internet Explorer

If you’re having troubles accessing Gmail in Internet Explorer 8, try turning on the Compatibility Mode (F12 key or browse to Tools > Developer Tools > Browser Mode) and try several different settings, restarting your browser each time.

Update Calendar Year

This is a bit of a strange one, but we’ve heard at least one user benefiting from this. Check your system’s date and calendar and make sure it’s correct. If not, set it to the current day and time, then reboot your PC and try accessing Gmail again.

Firefox – User Preferences

Another thing you can try is resetting Firefox’s User Preferences when in Safe Mode. To do so, browse to Tools > Exit to close Firefox. Next, browse to Windows’ Start Menu > All Programs > Mozilla Firefox. Select Mozilla Firefox (Safe Mode) to load Firefox in safe mode (for the savvy PC users, browse to Start > Run > “firefox -safe-mode”).

You’ll notice a safe mode dialog window. Caution: the next step will reset your preferences. If you don’t want this, you may need to try an alternate solution. To proceed, check “Reset all user preferences to Firefox defaults” and select “Make Changes and Restart”. Hopefully you’ll now be able to load and access your Gmail account without issues.

Clear SSL State

If you’re using Internet Explorer, try browsing to Tools > Internet Options > Content > and choose Clear SSL State. Restart your browser and hopefully Gmail will load correctly.

Disable Ad Blockers

Turn off your ad blocker (such as AdblockPlus) before you attempt logging in to Gmail.

My Gmail Inbox Is Tiny!

Tiny inbox in top left corner? If you’re seeing your Gmail screen shrink down to almost nothing, try switching browsers. If you’ve already done that, try disabling plugins/extensions or using your browser’s private/incognito mode.

Can I Make Gmail Check Mail More Frequently?

Gmail refreshes your inbox based on an interval it calculates from the volume of mail you receive. To manually refresh your inbox, click the refresh icon. To automatically have Gmail check more often, consider a plugin such as Gmail POP3 checker.

Alternative Solution: Use an External Email Client

An alternative solution to accessing your Gmail emails is to use an email client such as Thunderbird (a free, open source email client that also comes with a calendar option called Lightning). You’ll be able to send and receive emails and do most of what you can do (including searching your emails using various parameters) on Gmail.com. The drawback to this approach, of course, is that it limits access to your Gmail account to PC’s that have the email client installed. But – if you’re only having troubles with one PC, it might be worth using Thunderbird or another email client (Outlook, for example, or Windows or Mac Mail) to access Gmail on the PC that is experiencing issues.

Laptop, note book and phone on deskNothing’s Working!!

If you’re still having issues please post a comment below. We’re doing our best to keep this article current and updated with the latest solutions to help you get access to your Google and Gmail accounts. And if you’re not already on the bandwaggon and using email for you rbusiness. you can also learn more in our ultimate guide to email marketing.

What is the Gmail issue you’re experiencing?

About The Author:

Alex has been involved on the business side of the internet since the early 2000's. He holds both a Management Science degree from the University of California at San Diego as well as a Computer Science degree from NJIT.

We Rock Your Web had its roots back in 2004 as the tech blog for a web design and development company Alex founded that has grown and evolved into the parent company of We Rock Your Web.

While his foundation is rooted in web development, his expertise today lies in content and digital marketing, SEO, organic and paid search, analytics, and publishing. Alex is an avid tennis player, nature enthusiast, and hiker, and enjoys spending time with his wife, friends, and dogs.

Disclaimer: This website contains reviews, opinions and information regarding products and services manufactured or provided by third parties. We are not responsible in any way for such products and services, and nothing contained here should be construed as a guarantee of the functionality, utility, safety or reliability of any product or services reviewed or discussed. Please follow the directions provided by the manufacturer or service provider when using any product or service reviewed or discussed on this website.

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