Why Outlook is offline or disconnected and how to reconnect?

Here’s a question we just got from one of our readers:

Hey there 🙂 I have Outlook 365 installed on my computer which is quite an upgrade from my previous email client. But here’s the thing: Every once and then when i start Outlook on my laptop (which is typically connected to the network via Wifi,) it shows that Outlook is disconnected from the server and i am not really able to receive emails. Any ideas about how to fix this so i can reconnect to my server?

Thanks for the questions. In my answer i will assume that you are on Windows and not on macOS.

We’ll look into two possible scenarios:

  1. Your Outlook client is working in the so-called offline mode, and can’t connect to your mail server.
  2. Your Outlook client is online, but for some reason it is disconnected from the server so it can’t refresh your mailbox.

Outlook is working offline

When Outlook is working in offline mode, that will be clearly indicated in the status bar in the bottom of your screen, as shown below.

You might as well notice that your Outlook icon in the Windows bar has a red X sign indicating you are not online.

Offline access to Outlook might be beneficial if you are traveling or would like to access your mailbox from places with no reliable network connectivity. That said, when online, you most probably would like to connect to the mail server and start sending and receiving your emails.

So how to go back online? Just proceed as following:

  1. Open Microsoft Outlook.
  2. Then navigate to the Send / Receive tab.
  3. In your right hand side, you’ll notice the Work Offline button as shown below.
  1. Hit that button
  2. Outlook will attempt to re-connect. If for some reason that doesn’t happen, go ahead and restart your Outlook client.

Outlook is disconnected

You might find out that your Outlook has been disconnected from the server. That will be visible in the status bar in the bottom of the screen as shown below.

This is probably due to a temporary hiccup in your connectivity to the network/VPN. When back online, Outlook might automatically try to re-connect back to the server. If this doesn’t work, here is how to easily reconnect.

Goo chances that if you are using Exchange, Outlook will first display the “Need Password” message. If so:

  1. Go to the Send / Receive tab.
  2. Hit the Type your Exchange Password button and proceed accordingly.
  3. If Outlook connects and starts to sync your mailbox you are all set.
  4. If that’s not the case or you are not working on Exchange, close all Outlook Windows.
  5. Restart Outlook.
  6. If can’t connect you might want to ensure your Network/Internet connectivity is available. You can easily do that by opening a browser window and opening a website.
  7. If no Internet issues, try to restart your computer.

If still disconnected, we’ll go ahead and open Outlook in the so-called safe mode:

  1. Close all Outlook Windows.
  2. Assuming you are on Windows 10, from your Desktop, hit the Search Magnifying glass (Next to the Start icon in the left hand side of the desktop.
  3. Then type Run and open the Run Desktop App.
  4. Then type Outlook /safe and hit OK.
  5. Outlook will now open in safe mode.
  6. Now try to connect.
  7. Disable any Outlook add-ins and restart Outlook.

Then type