Outlook is a personal information manager which is primarily used to fetch emails and is part of Microsoft Office Suite. What makes Outlook different from other email managers is that it has the capability to store notes, includes a calendar, and also a journal. Users might also use it for web surfing.
Outlook has been around for quite a while and is one of Microsoft’s primary products. Despite its popularity, there are several instances where users are not able to connect Outlook to the respected server or get their email active. This is a very common and recurring issue and does not depend on any update whatsoever. In this article, we will go through all the reasons as to why this issue occurs and also what the possible workarounds to fix it are.
What causes Outlook not to Connect?
Outlook is basically a standalone application which attempts to connect to the mail servers periodically. There is also an option to work offline in Outlook. Outlook works by fetching all the emails into local storage and lets you view emails from your computer. However, this might not work if the application itself isn’t able to connect. Here are some of the reasons why this might happen:
- Bad internet connection: We cannot ignore the obvious reason why you might not be able to connect to Outlook. If you have bad/no internet connection, connecting to the internet will be impossible.
- Work Offline enabled: Outlook has a feature of ‘Work Offline’ which allows users to stay disconnected with the internet while making use of full functionality of the application. If this feature is enabled, Outlook will not connect to the internet.
- Third-party Outlook Add-ins: Outlook, like other Office products, allows users to make use of third-party add-ins in the application. These add-ins might be useful for you but they are known to cause numerous issues with the application itself.
- Account corruption: Another reason why you might not be able to connect Outlook to the network is that the account you are using is somehow corrupt or having issues of its own. When this happens, the application will not be able to make use of your account to log into the mail server.
- Corrupt data file: Another interesting reason we came across was where the Outlook data files were corrupt. This scenario occurs a lot especially in conditions where Outlook was not able to update its data properly because of an abrupt shutdown.
- Outdated Application: Microsoft releases several updates including security patches for all its Office application. These updates also target bug fixes which might be plaguing the application.
- Corrupt Office Installation: Outlook is part of Microsoft Office/Office 365. Office is part of a suite of application including Word, Excel, etc. If the installation itself is corrupt, Outlook will not be able to connect to the internet.
- Computer in error state: Even though this might be rare but we also came across situations where the computer itself was in an error state. Power cycling the computer properly usually solves the problem.
Before we move on with the solutions, make sure that you are logged in as an administrator on your computer. Also, you should know the credentials of your account which you are using in Outlook along with the webmail server address as we might be resetting several modules. Start with the first solution and work your way down as they are listed according to difficulty and effectiveness.
Solution 1: Power Cycling your Computer
Before we start implementing proper workarounds, we will first try to restart your computer and router completely so this eradicates any error configurations they are in. These devices are known to get into error states every once in a while due to a bad update or unexpected shutdowns. Routers especially are known to get into error states and stay that way until they are power cycled. Make sure that you save your work before proceeding.
- Turn off your computer and router. Now, take out the main power supply and press and hold the power button for around 2-3 minutes.
- Now wait for around 5-8 minutes before you plug the power supply back in and power on your devices. Now, try connecting to the network after it has started transmitting and check if the issue is resolved and you are able to connect to Outlook without any issue.
If the power cycling doesn’t work and you still unable to connect properly, you should move on to the next step of checking the internet.
Solution 2: Checking Internet Connection
Another thing to check before we start technical workarounds is that there is a valid internet connection. If there is an issue with the network or it is not open, you will not be able to connect to any servers whatsoever. In this solution, we will provide you tips on how you can make sure that the internet is working and also how to reset your router if things don’t go our way.
- Try connecting another device to the same network. If the device has Outlook, try to launch it and see if it works properly.
- Try accessing your browser and navigate to the mail’s website and see if you can retrieve your mail from there. If there is an issue there and you are unable to connect, it probably means there is an issue with the servers.
- If you are using an organizational or public internet, it is recommended that you switch to a private Usually, open and public internets have limited access which causes some applications not to work as expected.
If all the above tips don’t work and you are not able to access the internet, you can move on and try to reset the router as explained below:
Before we start resetting the router, you need to note down your router’s configurations. Every ISP has specific settings saved on your router. If we reset the router, these configurations will be lost and you will have another issue at hand. Here, you need to navigate to the IP address associated with your router. This is either present at the backside of the device or in the box of your router. This can be something like ‘192.168.1.2’. If you are unable to find the address, Google your router model and get the information from the web.
- Search for a button at the back of your router and press it for ~6 seconds until the router turns off and back on signifying the reset.
- After entering the configurations (if any), connect your console back to the network and check if the failure to initialize the network is solved for good.
Solution 3: Turning Off Work Offline
Outlook has a feature of working offline. This mode is usually turned on by people when they don’t have internet access and still want to make use of Outlook and either check old emails or work on their workspace. In Offline mode, Outlook will not connect to any servers or nor fetch any emails even if the internet is available. Here in this solution, we will navigate to Outlook settings and make sure that Work Offline mode is turned off.
- Launch Outlook on your computer.
- Now, click on the tab of Send/Receive and look for the button of Work Offline.
- If the option is greyed out, it means that the mode is active. Click on it once to deactivate it. Now try connecting and see if the issue is resolved.
Solution 4: Checking for Updates
Before we repair your Outlook account and reset the data files, we will first check whether there are any updates that might be available for Outlook and Windows both. Usually, Office 365 (or normal Office) is updated automatically whenever there is an update available. Office updates are part of Microsoft Updates themselves and you don’t have to do anything.
However, if you have canceled the upcoming update or postponed it manually, Outlook will not be updated to the latest build. Bugs are common throughout all applications even if they are developed by Microsoft. With new updates, along with new features, existing bugs are fixed. In this solution, we will check Outlook and Windows both for potential updates.
- Launch Outlook. Once you are in the application, click on the File button present at the top-left side of the screen.
- Now, click on Office Account from the left navigation bar and click on Update Options present at the right side of the screen.
- If there are any updates, Windows will automatically download and install them on your computer.
It is also recommended that you update Windows to the latest build as well. Windows releases security patches for Office 365 products.
- Press Windows + S, type “update” in the dialogue box and open the application.
- Once in the Update settings, click on Check for updates button and wait for Microsoft to connect to servers.
- If there is any update, it will be downloaded in a while automatically and installed on your computer.
- Restart your computer after both updates and now try connecting. Check if the issue is resolved.
Solution 5: Repairing Outlook Account
If all the above methods don’t work, we will try repairing your Outlook account on your computer. Here, an Outlook account refers to the information regarding email addresses or servers that you have input in the application. These settings might sometimes be disrupted and hence causes various issues such as the application not connecting. In this solution, we will navigate to Outlook Account settings and manually attempt to repair your account. If there is any issue, Outlook will automatically take care of it.
- Launch Outlook and click on the File tab present at the top-left side of the screen.
- Now, click on Info and then select your account from the drop-down. Now, click on Account and Social Network Settings and then click Account Settings.
- Now, select the Email Address which is causing the issue and click on Repair button present at the top-left side of the screen.
- You will now be prompted to enter your details or confirm them. It is advised that you remove the password and enter it again. This will eliminate the possibility that you have entered an incorrect password.
- Press Next. Now, Outlook will automatically try to establish a connection with the servers and then diagnose any issues (if any).
- After the account is repaired, check if the issue is resolved.
Solution 6: Disabling Extensions
Normally, the majority of the Extensions available for Outlook are by verified developers. However, not all of them work properly and some even conflict with Outlook settings and cause it not to work or connect. Here, what you should do is disable all the extensions and then try connecting. If the connection is successful, it means there was an issue with an extension(s). Then you can enable them one by one and then diagnose which one is causing the problem.
- Launch Outlook and navigate to File > Options. Click Add-ins from the left navigation bar in the Options.
- At the bottom of the right-panel, you will the button of Go beside Manage. Click it once.
- Now, uncheck all the extensions and click OK.
- Restart the Outlook application and check whether the issue is resolved. If it is, you can follow the procedure to diagnose the troublesome add-in as explained above.
Solution 7: Rebuilding Outlook data file
Before we reinstall/repair the Office 365 installation files, it is worth rebuilding the entire Outlook data file. Outlook saves its data to an external file. This is a type of storage for the application which it uses in its operations. In this solution, we will delete the data file. Then when we launch Outlook, it will instantly notice that the data file is missing and then attempt to recreate it from scratch. This will solve corruption issues (if any).
Before we move on with the solutions, it should be noted that all of your email rules will be removed as a consequence. To export your rules to a location that you import again, later on, follow these steps:
- Open Outlook and then navigate to the following:
- Now, proceed to export rules for all of your mailboxes to a temporary folder. You will use these backups to import all of your rules back later on when done with the rest of the solution.
Now we can proceed with rebuilding your Outlook Data File:
- Navigate to Account settings as we did in Solution 5 when repairing the account.
- Now, click on the tab of Data Files and after selecting the Email account causing problems, click on Open File Location.
- Now, you can either Rename the file or move it to another location.
- Now, open Outlook again. It will automatically attempt to rebuild your data file. After it is rebuilt, check if the issue is resolved.
If the issue is resolved, you can import all the rules you exported to the temporary folder and everything will be the same again.
Solution 8: Repairing / Reinstalling Outlook
If all the above methods don’t work and you are still unable to get Outlook working, we can try repairing/reinstalling the application. Here, you should first attempt to repair the suite (Office 365). If the repairing doesn’t work, you can move on and attempt to reinstall it completely.
Note: In the process of reinstalling, you might be required to have to installation executable with you as well as the product key.
- Press Windows + R, type “appwiz.cpl” in the dialogue box, and press Enter.
- Once in the application manager, locate the entry of Microsoft Office. Right-click it and select Change.
- Select the option of Repair from the following window and press Continue.
- Now follow the on-screen instructions and when the process is complete, restart your computer and check if you can launch and get Outlook to work without any issues.