Proton has released a desktop version of its Proton Mail app that will give users full access to both Proton Mail and Proton Calendar and (eventually) the ability to view your emails offline. The desktop app is available in beta is optimized for both Windows and macOS, and encrypts sent emails end-to-end just like with the browser version, according to the Swiss company, while offline access to emails will be available “soon.”
Technically, it’s been possible to access your Proton emails offline through a desktop email app, but you had to use the Proton Mail Bridge to configure your accounts to work with other IMAP / SMTP email clients like Microsoft Outlook, Apple Mail, and others. Proton’s desktop app, on the other hand, will let you access emails offline without having to set up that bridge, which should be more convenient. (The program will cache a large number of emails for offline use, Proton says.)
It’s important to note that you’ll still need internet access to both send and encrypt your emails on Proton. But the offline feature will let you view and draft emails while traveling, during a power outage, or any other situation where you don’t have access to the internet.
Emails and drafts of emails will be stored locally when a user is in offline mode on Proton’s desktop app, writes Proton Mail’s product lead David Dudok de Wit in an email to The Verge. Users will be able to look at a limited number of both read and unread emails while offline. For extra security, Dudok de Wit recommends that people regularly sign out or clear their desktop app’s cache. “We are also working on adding additional security features, to further protect users’ inboxes,” he says.
Proton is also bringing encrypted auto-forwarding to paid users, both on its desktop and browser versions, though the encryption for forwards will only apply when the forwarded emails go to other Proton users. For email forwarding to be activated, the recipient must agree to it, according to Dudok de Wit. Proton’s servers won’t be able to access forwarded emails — instead, Proton issues a new private key to the forwarded email recipient, which they use to decrypt the emails.
The company says it has made improvements to Proton Calendar, too, including a fully searchable web version.
Not everyone will be able to access Proton’s desktop app right away. Proton is restricting access to its paid “Visionary” tier for legacy users at first (though the company is reopening subscriptions to that tier through January 3rd, 2024). The plan is to make the desktop app available to all users in early 2024.
Update, December 14th, 6:35PM ET: This story has been updated to include further information from Proton on email autoforwarding and Proton Mail’s offline mode.