Using Outlook in Offline mode

Using Microsoft Outlook when your network connection is anything less than perfect can prove to be a frustrating experience - whether you're using WiFi on a train journey, using a tethered Smartphone, or even on your own LAN, the slightest interruption to the network seems to make Outlook hang - sometimes for minutes at a time. This is especially irritating if you didn't even want to use the network connection for the given task, for example, viewing your calendar or typing draft emails when connectivity is intermittent or not present.

Offline mode to the rescue

Did you know that Outlook has an offline mode? This tells Outlook to ignore your network connection, leaving you to work in peace. To enable offline mode, navigate to the Send / Receive tab, and then click Work Offline:

Offline Mode

Once you've done this, Outlook will ignore your network connection and allow to access your local Inbox and associated items without the long freezes where it would normally attempt to connect to your Exchange server. Depending on the version of Outlook that you're using, Outlook's icon in the task bar and notification area (system tray) may also alter to include a red "X" to remind you that you're in offline mode. As you'd expect, to go online again, simply click the Work Offline button again - any pending items such as emails, appointments, and so forth, will be resynchronised, and normal service will continue.

When you quit Outlook in Offline Mode, it will remain offline when you next start Outlook again - no warning will be displayed, apart from the red "X" in Outlook's taskbar icon and notification area (where applicable), so be sure to disable Offline Mode later on when full network connectivity has been resumed. If you forget to do this, you might wonder why your Inbox has been quiet for so long...


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