When the boss says “I have a problem,” my ears perk up. Lifehacker is fine; we haven’t been blown up by PAM. However, Melissa can’t get her Gmail to load no matter what she tries—an issue that’s been plaguing her for months. It’s a peculiarity that makes me go “hmmmm,” since I never have issues loading Gmail.
Melissa didn’t write me an email about this, but to keep the reader-questions tradition alive in Lifehacker’s tech-advice column, here’s some of what she said to me in one of our Slack channels:
“This is a REAL PROBLEM for ME. I don’t have problems with any site but Gmail, and it’s been happening for months. I’ve googled it several times and never found any good information.”
Worry not, Melissa. I have a few ideas. The rest of this column is going to take us on a little trip down troubleshooting lane. I don’t have any specific advice for why Gmail—and only Gmail—isn’t really working for you. However, there are a few tricks I use in situations like these to get to the bottom of the problem.
Try a new browser
You didn’t mention what browser you’re using. (I could ask, but I’m going to treat your Slack messages like a regular reader question in the Tech 911 mailbag.) So, my first troubleshooting step would be to load up a different browser, like Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari, or even that Chromium-based Edge that’s been fun to use lately. If a backup browser gives you perfect access to Gmail, great! We’re narrowing it down.
Check for problematic “helpful” apps
If you still can’t access Gmail no matter what browser you try, something at the system level might be to blame. This could be something screwy with your operating system (your hosts file, perhaps), or perhaps some app you’ve installed that’s restricting your access for a reason. You’ll probably know if you’ve recently installed any kind of new antivirus or anti-malware tool that might be acting up. If so, consider checking the settings on that one to see if you can whitelist Gmail; at minimum, try disabling it (temporarily!) to see if that fixes your issue at all. If not, your issue probably isn’t the app’s fault.
If you haven’t installed anything like that recently, you should still run through your computer’s applications to see if there are any similar apps running that you might not know about. Same deal; see what you can whitelist, and consider briefly disabling the apps to see if your issue resolves. If it does, consider looking for a new antivirus or anti-malware app if you have no idea how to get Gmail working with what you’re currently using.
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