If I leave Mail.app open and turn on a system-wide VPN on my MacBook Outlook (one of my email accounts) gets mad at me and disables my account and I have to use microsoft's outlook.com to sign in again and reset my password etc. because apparently "somebody else is using your account."

How can I stop this from happening?

Recently I've stopped leaving Mail.app open all the time so that I don't accidentally cause the problems when I start a VPN and forget to quit Mail.app first.

But this is a pain b/c of course I don't get notifications and don't get emails as soon as they arrive.

Is there a way to disable that account while a VPN is in use?

Or somehow stop these problems.

  • 1
    This happens to me when I use outlook on my home network, put the mac to sleep and then wake it up at work. Outlook, and other programs detect the change of IP and force a new sign in for security.
    – Solar Mike
    Jan 10, 2018 at 9:08

2 Answers 2


How can I stop this from happening?

This is expected behavior.

Microsoft (Outlook.com) uses location data (if available) as part of their security to validate authorization access; t's more than just your IP.

You can view all of your activity from Microsoft at the site: https://account.live.com/activity

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Using a VPN with Outlook.com

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) takes your traffic (all or some, depending on the policy set at the VPN server) and sends it through their network. If you go to https://account.live.com/activity while connected to VPN, you will see that your IP address has changed (very significantly). You are no longer "located" at your home, but now wherever your work's network gateway is located.

As such, (Microsoft) Outlook.com will detect this change and based on their security policies temporarily lock your access since it "appears" you went from one location to the next with the same cached credentials.

Turn on Two Factor Authentication

If you use two factor authentication (Microsoft Authenticator App), you can mitigate this somewhat. Outlook.com will detect the change in location and ask you to authenticate (iPhone version shown):

Authenticator App Verify

Prior to locking your account, it should ask you to approve or reject the new sign in.

Your other option is to close Mail (or log out of Outlook.com), connect to the VPN and then reopen. You will need to do this for each time there is a network change so there is a bona fide log in as opposed to an authorization request based on stale cached credentials.

  • "temporarily": I am forced to change my password every time and often have to delete and re-add this internet account on my MacBook. I don't have a phone so 2-factor won't work Jan 10, 2018 at 16:40
  • Is there a way to automate the solution you describe in the last paragraph? because that's my current solution but manually doing this is a pain and I sometimes forget. Jan 10, 2018 at 16:41
  • It is such a pain that Microsoft doesn't provide an option to disable this. Annoying as hell!
    – Adam Liu
    Sep 23, 2019 at 14:54
  • @AdamLiu - It’s a pretty critical security feature. Turning it off would look like you were signed into the same account from two different locations at the same time. While legit in your particular use case, it would prevent MS from detecting when an actual attacker was accessing your account without your knowledge.
    – Allan
    Sep 24, 2019 at 16:11

What worked for me is just to quit mail and re-open it.

This seems to work most consistently when quitting mail before starting the VPN and re-opening it while the VPN is on.

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