Outlook: Using Local Help Files

Can I somehow download all the Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 Help files to my laptop so that I can browse through Help topics quickly (i.e., locally)?

Outlook 2003's default behavior is to search the Microsoft Office Online Web site for Help content when the machine is connected to the Internet. This practice is nice in theory because it means that Microsoft can keep the content up-to-date, but it's frustrating for users accustomed to a nearly instant response to a Help search.

Fortunately, the Help files are already available locally. You just have to tell Outlook to use the local files rather than the online content. Choose Tools, Options, Other, Advanced Options, Service Options. Click Online Content, then under Online Content Settings, clear the Search online content when connected box as Web Figure 1 shows.

After you conduct a search of offline Help content, you can search the online content by clicking For additional and updated content, search Microsoft Office Online at the top of the Search Results pane. Another way to search online is to change the scope in the Search box at the bottom of the Search Results pane from Offline Help to Microsoft Office Online.

Be aware that turning off automatic online searching for Outlook also turns off this feature for other Office 2003 programs. You can also use Group Policy to change this setting; you use an Office Group Policy Object (GPO), not an Outlook GPO, so look under Microsoft Office 2003, Tools, Options, General, Service Options, Online Content for the Online content options GPO.

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