Summary: MS Outlook provides an option to work offline when you configure an IMAP, Outlook.com, or Microsoft Exchange server account. Users can use the option to switch from work offline to work online based on their needs. Sometimes, due to sync error, disabled Outlook profile, or damage to OST file, the Outlook may go into Disconnected or Working Offline mode. In this guide, we help you troubleshoot the problem and switch Outlook from working offline to working online.
When Microsoft Outlook is configured with Exchange server in Cached Exchange Mode, it creates an Outlook Storage Table file, also known as Offline Outlook data file or OST, to store a synchronized copy of mailbox data. This allows Outlook users to work offline even when the internet is unavailable or slow. Users can continue their work in Outlook and perform tasks, such as reply to urgent emails, move emails or other mail items between the folders, or delete items from folders, without experiencing any issues.
As soon as the system connects to the internet, the changes stored in the OST file are automatically synchronized with the server mailbox on the Exchange server so that both copies are the same.
Users can also choose to work offline using the ‘Work Offline’ option in Outlook. They can go online anytime they want.
In this guide, we’ll discuss the steps to change or switch from working offline to working online in Microsoft Outlook and the methods to fix and reconnect an offline Outlook profile or OST file.
Steps to Switch from Work Offline to Work Online
When Outlook profile is not connected to the server, the Outlook displays ‘Working Offline’ or ‘Disconnected’ status in the bottom status bar.
If you see such status, it indicates that your Outlook profile or OST is not connected or synchronized to the Exchange server. Below we have discussed the steps to switch from working offline to working online in MS Outlook 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, and 2019 versions. Outlook 2003 and earlier versions do not support this feature.
Step 1: Check Your Internet Connection
When Outlook experiences unreliable or slow internet connection, it goes into Offline Mode. However, users won’t notice this and can work seamlessly.
But when Outlook is offline, you can’t send or receive new messages. In such a case, you should first check your internet connection and ensure uninterrupted connectivity.
If your internet is working and you still see the ‘Working Offline’ or ‘Disconnected’ indicator in the status bar, follow the next step.
Step 2: Switch to Work Online
Sometimes, a user may click ‘Work Offline’ accidentally or deliberately, which disconnects the profile from the server. This option is available under the ‘Send/Receive’ tab in MS Outlook. If the internet is working fine, follow these steps to switch from working offline to working online in Outlook.
- In Outlook, click on the Send/Receive tab and check if the Work Offline button is greyed out.
- If the Work Offline button is shaded or greyed, it means your profile is disconnected from the server.
- To reconnect, click the ‘Work Offline’ button.
In case the Work Offline button is not shaded, probably the Cached Exchange Mode setting is off. To enable it, follow these steps:
- In Outlook, navigate to File > Account Settings and click Account Settings.
- Select the Exchange or Office 365 profile and click Change.
- Click the Use Cached Exchange Mode checkbox under Offline Settings to enable it.
- After this, restart Outlook for changes to take effect.
After this, check the status bar. It should indicate ‘Working Online’ or ‘Connected to Microsoft Exchange.’ If it is not, you can try creating a new Outlook profile.
Step 3: Create New Outlook Profile
A corrupt or damaged Outlook profile can also lead to disconnected Outlook. In such a case, you can create a new Outlook profile. The steps are as follows:
- In Outlook, navigate to File > Account Settings > Manage Profiles.
- Click on Show Profiles and then click Add.
- Now type a profile name and click OK.
- Restart Outlook and choose this new profile.
You may also remove your current Outlook profile and then add it again in MS Outlook. This might fix the issue and switch Outlook from working offline to working online.
Step 4: Use OST to PST Converter Software
At this stage, if your profile is still showing disconnected or working offline, it indicates a problem with the OST file. There could be inconsistency issues or the OST file may have become inaccessible due to synchronization errors or crashes.
In such a case, you can use an OST to PST converter software, such as Stellar Converter for OST. The software helps you restore your mailbox items from inaccessible OST files to a new or existing Outlook profile with 100% integrity.
You can also directly export the emails and other mailbox items from the inaccessible OST file to live Exchange Server or Office 365.
Work Offline is an option in MS Outlook that users can enable or disable anytime to switch Outlook from working offline to working online. When it’s in working offline mode, Outlook does not require internet or connection to the server. All changes made are stored locally in OST or Offline Folder file. The feature comes in handy when you are facing connectivity issues. However, you can switch back to work online anytime as soon as the system connects to a stable internet connection and starts sending or receiving emails.
But sometimes, the problem may occur due to reasons, such as corrupt Outlook profile or inaccessible OST file. In such cases, you can use Stellar Converter for OST to convert the mailbox items from inaccessible (belonging to a corrupt Outlook profile) into Outlook-supported PST format. After that, you can add a new profile and import the PST file to restore your entire mailbox, including offline folders.