Microsoft KB Archive/195435

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Article ID: 195435

Article Last Modified on 12/14/2004


  • Microsoft Outlook 2000 Standard Edition

This article was previously published under Q195435

For a Microsoft Outlook 97 version of this article, see 161725.

For a Microsoft Outlook 98 version of this article, see 182158.

For a Microsoft Outlook 2002 version of this article, see 286038.

NOTE: The procedures in this article only apply if you have installed Outlook with the Corporate or Workgroup option. With this option, you can use Messaging Application Programming Interface (MAPI) services. To determine your installation type, click About Microsoft Outlook on the Help menu. If you have the Corporate or Workgroup installation, you see "Corporate or Workgroup".


When you use Outlook 2000 with the Microsoft Exchange Server Information Service, you can work with folders "offline;" that is, you can use the contents of a folder without a network connection. This article discusses how you can create, use, and synchronize offline folders.

Offline folders are only available with Exchange Server.


Offline folders are the quickest and easiest way to work offline with Exchange Server. Offline folders make it possible to work with the contents of an Exchange Server folder while you are not connected to the network (offline), and then when you are connected to the network, synchronize the folders.

Offline folders are stored in an offline folder (.ost) file; the default location for the .ost file is your current Windows folder. Like personal folders (.pst files), the .ost file can be compacted to save space on your computer.

The difference between an offline folder file and a set of personal folders is that the offline folder file starts as a mirror image of your folders on the Exchange Server computer, and is updated by the server during synchronization. A set of personal folders, on the other hand, is simply a local file where messages are stored. A set of personal folders, on the other hand, is simply a storage location on your hard disk or a server other than the Exchange Server computer.

When you are working offline, you work with the contents of an offline folder exactly as you do with a folder that is on a server. For example, you can change and move items in your offline Inbox, send messages that are placed in your offline Outbox, and read your offline public folders. You will continue to receive new messages in your online mailbox. However, you will not be aware of these changes on the server until you connect to the network.

When you need to update the contents of the offline folder, you synchronize the folder with the server, and then continue to work offline. The Synchronize command connects to the server through Dial-Up Networking, copies the changes made, and then disconnects. Any item that you delete from either the offline folder or the corresponding server folder is deleted from both folders after synchronization occurs.

Creating an Offline Folder File

To create an offline folder file, follow these steps:

  1. On the Tools menu, click Services.
  2. Click Microsoft Exchange Server, and then click Properties.
  3. On the Advanced tab, click Offline Folder File Settings.
  4. Type the path to the file that you want to use as the offline folder file.
  5. If you receive the following message

    pathfilename.ost could not be found. Would you like to create it?

    click OK.
  6. Click OK, and then click OK again.

NOTE: Outlook must be connected to the Exchange Server computer for the initial creation and synchronization of the offline folder file.

All of the standard Outlook folders--Inbox, Outbox, Deleted Items, Sent Items, Calendar, Contacts, Journal, Notes, and Tasks--on the Exchange Server computer are now ready for offline use. You cannot selectively choose which folder will be available for offline use and which will not be. To set public folders for offline use, see the "Working with Public Folders Offline" section of this article.

Set User-Defined Folders for Offline Use

To set any user-defined folders for offline use, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click the user-defined folder, and then click Properties on the shortcut menu.
  2. On the Synchronization tab, click to select the When offline or online check box under This folder is available.
  3. Click OK.

You cannot use an .ost file that has previously been used with a different mailbox. If you do so, you receive the following error message:

The file filename.ost cannot be accessed because it has been configured for use with a different mailbox.

NOTE: When you start Windows, do not press ESCAPE when you are prompted for the Windows password, or you will not be able to access the .ost file because the proper credential information has not been supplied.

Working with Public Folders Offline

To work with public folders offline, follow these steps:

  1. Using the right mouse button (right-click), click the public folder that you want to work with, and then click Copy foldername on the shortcut menu.
  2. In the Copy Folder dialog box, move to your Favorites folder, and then click OK.
  3. In your Favorites folder, right-click the newly copied folder, and then click Properties on the shortcut menu.
  4. Click the Synchronization tab, and then click to select the When offline or online check box.
  5. Click OK.

Your public folder is ready for offline use. You can now selectively set each folder that you copy to your Favorites folder for offline use.

Synchronizing Folders

When you synchronize, a log file appears as a message in your Deleted Items folder. This log file contains information such as the time that you synchronized, the names of the folders that were synchronized, and the number of items that were added.

To synchronize offline folders, use one of the following methods.

Synchronizing a Specific Folder

Click to select the folder that you want to synchronize, click Synchronize on the Tools menu, and then click This Folder.

Synchronizing All Folders

On the Tools menu, click Synchronize, and then click All Folders to synchronize all your offline folders.

Synchronizing a Group of Folders

To synchronize a group of folders, first make sure that the folders are available for offline use. Then point to Synchronize on the Tools menu, click Offline Folder Settings, and then click the folders that you want to group for synchronization.

Automatically Synchronizing All Folders When You Quit Outlook

To automatically synchronize all folders when you quit Outlook, follow these steps:

  1. On the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Mail Services tab.
  2. Under Mail Options, click to select the Enable Offline Access check box, and then click to select the When online, synchronize all folders upon exiting check box.
  3. Click OK.

All folders that are available offline are automatically synchronized when you quit Outlook.

It is important to synchronize and download the Address Book before you log off the Exchange Server computer. This is particularly important the first time to ensure that all your offline folders are updated.

To download your Address Book, use the following steps:

  1. On the Tools menu, click Synchronize, and then click Download Address Book.
  2. Under Information to download, click either the Full details or No details option, depending on your preference, and then click OK.

Note that the Download Offline Address Book dialog box contains information about the ramifications of downloading without detailed information.

The Remote Mail feature is not available if you are set for offline folder use. For additional information about Remote Mail and how to use it, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

195436 Remote mail, Offline folders, and working offline

Additional query words: .ost ol2k offline

Keywords: kbhowto kbstore KB195435