The majority of modern-day gameplay takes place online, and that's not a bad thing. Online gameplay has made it possible to play with your friends no matter where you're located, not to mention teaming up with complete strangers, participating in online leagues, and accessing types of content made possible by the internet. That sort of hyper-connected nature, however, can be wearisome at times — maybe you want to play an online game mode, but you don't want strangers, recent teammates, and friends jumping into your lobby or spamming you with invites.
That's where the online status control feature comes in — every major gaming console has this setting, including the PS5 and the Nintendo Switch. With a couple of simple clicks, you can play an online game while appearing to be offline to your friends and other social connections. Those people won't receive a notification when you sign into your Xbox, they won't see that you're online, and they won't know what you're playing.
How to set yourself offline on Xbox
Microsoft has made it simple for Xbox gamers to set themselves to appear offline even when they're signed in on their console and playing games online. The setting is found within the People section of the Xbox guide and is separate from the similar Do Not Disturb setting. To enable the Appear Offline setting, you need to:
- Turn on your Xbox console.
- Press the Xbox button on the console.
- Select "Profile & system."
- Select your Xbox gamertag.
- Scroll to the bottom.
- Select the online status drop-down menu.
- Select the Appear Offline option.
You also have the option of signing into your Xbox account online and configuring who can see your Xbox activity and online status in general. For example, under the Privacy & Online Safety menu within Settings, you can select Privacy and choose whether your status is available to everyone or just friends. If you don't want anyone to see any of your activity, you can choose the "Block" option.
What does it mean to appear offline on Xbox?
While on your Xbox, you can quickly see which of your friends are online and what they're playing using the People section of the guide. This makes it easy to send invites to someone who is available or to join their game if they're playing something you want to play, too. If you don't want people to bother you while you're playing, Xbox gives you two options: Do Not Disturb and Appear Offline. Both settings are self-explanatory — the Do Not Disturb option will let your friends see that you're online but will let them know you don't want to be bothered, while the Appear Offline option will make it look like you're not on your Xbox at all.
You should choose the second option when you want to go fully stealth. Why would that be necessary? Perhaps you're playing a game while you're supposed to be sick and don't want your classmates to see, or maybe you're playing a game during work hours but are friends with some of your coworkers. Of course, there's also the simple answer: some people just really value their privacy and don't want others snooping on their daily recreational habits. Once you adjust your privacy settings, consider tweaking these other important Xbox features, too.