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 Office Outlook 365 installed on my computer which is quite an upgrade from the previous email client i was using. But here’s the thing: Every once and then when i start Outlook on my Windows 11 laptop (which is typically connected to the network via Wifi,) it shows that Outlook is disconnected from the server even though the internet is working and i am not really able to receive emails. Sometimes i am prompted that Outlook needs my password. Any ideas about how to fix this so i can reconnect to my server?

Thanks for the question. In my answer i will explain how to troubleshoot using Windows 10/11 operating systems. Answer won’t be fully applicable to macOS or Linux distributions.

What does Outlook disconnected or offline mean?

Two options:

  1. Your Outlook client is stuck in offline mode, and therefore you 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. This could be related to network / VPN connectivity or Outlook related issues.

Outlook is working offline error

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.

When Outlook is stuck 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 task bar has a red X sign indicating you are not online. You might as well see the entire Outlook interface greyed out, indicating you are offline.

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 from Exchange

It could be that Microsoft Outlook has been disconnected from your internal mail provider or Exchange server. If that is the case, you’ll be able to spot that on your Outlook lower status bar.

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.

Good 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.

Use Outlook Safe mode to solve connect issues

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.
  8. Wait a few moments, and try to access your mailbox.

Issues with Outlook after changing passwords

Another source of possible connection issues when using Outlook on Exchange server, or Internet Mail could be that you have changed your Windows domain password and for some reason Outlook isn’t picking it up. If that is the case, Outlook will show to a login prompt in which you might need to input your domain name, domain login and password. Once done hit OK.

Your mailbox should start syncing up, but if this not the case, then i would recommend to restart your computer and try to invoke Outlook again.

Hope it helped. If not, kindly leave us a message using the contact form.