Move contacts to another computer

If you buy a new computer with Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 installed or reinstall Outlook on a new or reformatted hard disk, you can move all your current Outlook contacts to the new installation.

 Important   If you use a Microsoft Exchange account, the information in this article does not apply to you unless you have a local archive (data file) that stores your contacts and other Outlook items.

Before you can move or back up your contacts, you need to know if they are stored on a server or on your local computer, and then you need to back up that data. For more information, please read the section below, "Determine where your contacts are stored."

 Warning    Do not format a hard disk that contains your Outlook data files until you have first backed up the data to another hard disk, network drive, or removable media such as a CD-ROM. Formatting your hard disk will permanently destroy the data on that disk. In addition to your data files, there are other configuration files that you may want to back up. For more information about Outlook file locations, see the See Also section.

In this article


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Step 1: Determine where your contacts are stored

Outlook stores your contact folders in data files. Before you can move or back up your contacts, you first need to determine whether the data file for your contacts is kept on an e-mail server or stored locally on your computer in an Outlook data file. The answer depends on the type of e-mail account you have and how you have configured the account in Outlook. The place where your new messages are saved is defined as the default delivery location.

 Note   Because your contact data is stored with your e-mail messages, these data files must be moved together unless you have specifically created local data files, called Personal Folders files (.pst) (Personal Folders file (.pst): Data file that stores your messages and other items on your computer. You can assign a .pst file to be the default delivery location for e-mail messages. You can use a .pst to organize and back up items for safekeeping.), that contain only contact folders. In this article, instructions referring to e-mail accounts, mailboxes, and messages refer to contacts as well, unless otherwise noted.



Find out the type of e-mail account you are using

  1. On the Tools menu, click Account Settings.
  2. On the E-mail tab, look in the Type list.

Once you have verified the type of e-mail account you are using, you can use this information in the section immediately following, "Locate where your contacts are stored."

If you have more than one e-mail account, you can have data files for one or more of them. If so, you need to locate all local data files (.pst files) that you want to move.

Locate where your contacts are stored

  • POP3, IMAP, and HTTP accounts    

If you use a POP3 (POP3: A common protocol that is used to retrieve e-mail messages from an Internet e-mail server.) e-mail account, which is one of the most common types of personal e-mail accounts, your e-mail messages, contacts, and other items are downloaded from your POP3 e-mail server at your Internet service provider (ISP) to your computer and delivered to and stored locally in a Personal Folders file (.pst) (Personal Folders file (.pst): Data file that stores your messages and other items on your computer. You can assign a .pst file to be the default delivery location for e-mail messages. You can use a .pst to organize and back up items for safekeeping.) named Outlook.pst. Outlook.pst is the default data file name. Personal Folders files are stored in the following locations:

Windows Vista     drive:\user\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook

Microsoft Windows XP     drive:\Documents and Settings\user\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook

IMAP (IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol): Unlike Internet e-mail protocols such as POP3, IMAP creates folders on a server to store/organize messages for retrieval by other computers. You can read message headers only and select which messages to download.) and HTTP accounts save your e-mail messages, contacts, and other items on a server. As with any type of Outlook e-mail account, you can choose to archive or move items from the server into a local .pst file. If you archived or moved items from the server to a local .pst file, you need to back up the .pst file and then reconnect to it in your new installation of Outlook. If you have kept everything on the server, after you use the E-Mail Accounts Wizard to set up your IMAP or HTTP account, all of the items on the e-mail server will again be available to you in Outlook.

  • Microsoft Exchange account    

As mentioned earlier, if you are using a Microsoft Exchange account, you probably do not need to use the instructions in this article unless you have moved items into .pst file on your computer. If you use an Exchange account, typically your contacts and other items are stored on the server running Exchange. Your data will be available to you, from the Exchange server, when you install Outlook.

 Important   If you have moved or archived Exchange account items, such as your Contacts, to one or more .pst files, you must back up these .pst files as well as reconnect them to your new installation of Outlook. Personal Folders files are stored in the following locations:

Windows Vista     drive:\user\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook

Microsoft Windows XP     drive:\Documents and Settings\user\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook

 Note   If you have Outlook Connector installed and have set up your e-mail accounts, all of the items on the e-mail server, including contacts, will again be available to you in Outlook, so there is no need to move any items.

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Step 2: Move your old data files

After you install Outlook on a new computer or a new hard disk, you are ready to start using your old contacts and other Outlook data.

  • Use Windows Explorer to copy each Personal Folders file (.pst) from its backup location (network drive or removable media, such as a CD or DVD or portable hard disk) to:

Windows Vista     drive:\user\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook

Microsoft Windows XP     drive:\Documents and Settings\user\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook

Although you can keep your data files in any folder, this is the default location that Outlook uses when creating and accessing .pst files.

 Note   This location is a hidden folder. To use Windows Explorer to navigate to this folder, you must first turn on the display of hidden folders.

ShowHow do I display hidden folders?

  • Windows Vista    
  1. In Windows, click the Start button, and then click Control Panel.
  2. Click Appearance and Personalization.

     Note   If you are using Control Panel Classic View, double-click Folder Options, and then continue with step 4.

  3. Click Folder Options.
  4. On the View tab, under Advanced settings, under Files and Folders, under Hidden files and folders, select Show hidden files and folders.
  • Microsoft Windows XP    
  1. Click the Start button, and then click Control Panel.
  2. Click Folder Options.

Folder Options

  1. Click the View tab, and then click the Show hidden files and folders option.

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Step 3: Set up your account when you first start Outlook

When you first start Outlook, you are asked for your e-mail account information. Depending on the type of account you use, Outlook may create a new data file known in Outlook as a Personal Folders file (.pst). That is good if you are a new user but probably not what you want if you were already an Outlook user and had your contacts created and stored in a .pst file that you want to keep. You can still get to your original data, but first complete the Outlook setup by responding to the questions you are prompted to answer. Once you are in Outlook, there are some important steps to getting your old data back and then making sure that new messages are delivered to the same .pst file that you were previously using.

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Step 4: Access the old Outlook data file

If you use a POP3 account, or you set up your Exchange account to deliver to a local Personal Folders file (.pst), you need to set up Outlook to open the file.

  1. On the File menu, point to Open, and then click Outlook Data File.
  2. Click the .pst file you want to open, and then click OK.

The name of the folder associated with the data file appears in the folder list in the Navigation Pane. If you never changed the display name, it is still the default Personal Folders.

You are halfway done. You now probably have two Personal Folders listed in the Navigation Pane. The first was created by Outlook when you first started Outlook and provided information about your account. The second folder is your old data. You can verify that your original data is back in Outlook by viewing the Inbox or the subfolders under one of the entries. You should see all of your old items.

If you see two entries named Personal Folders in the Navigation Pane, we recommend that you follow the quick steps in the "Customizing the data file display name" section to make the next procedure easier. If you see only one top-level folder named Personal Folders, skip to the "Delivering messages to the previously used .pst file" section.

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Step 5: Customize the data file display name

If you kept the default settings and ended up with two sets of Personal Folders, it might be confusing. You have two data files — the file that Outlook created when you started Outlook for the first time and your old data file that was just added. Now is a good time to customize the display name to prevent confusion.

  1. In the Navigation Pane, right-click Personal Folders, and then click Properties for Personal Folders.
  2. Click Advanced.
  3. In the Name text box, type a name that is meaningful to you, such as My Messages.
  4. Click OK twice.

Now you will see a top folder named My Messages in the Navigation Pane. You will always be able to quickly identify your data file from any others.

 Tip   Customizing the file names is also useful if you keep multiple .pst file archives. For example, if you create a monthly .pst file to store all of your sent items for that month, you can rename the display name from Personal Folders to something more friendly, such as Sent Mail Archive – November 2007.

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Step 6: Deliver messages to the previously used .pst file

You can use one or more .pst files, but new messages can only be delivered to one file.

Now that your old items, including your contacts, are available in Outlook, you need to tell Outlook which data file is your primary data file and that all new items should go to the Inbox in that .pst file. The file or mailbox to which your new messages are delivered is defined as the default delivery location.

  1. On the Tools menu, click Account Settings.
  2. On the E-mail tab, select the new e-mail account, and then click Change Folder.
  3. In the New E-mail Delivery Location dialog box, select the Inbox of the old .pst file.
  4. Click Finish.
  5. Exit and restart Outlook.

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Step 7: Remove an unwanted data file

You may want to discard the Personal Folders file that was created when you set up Outlook. Before you proceed, it is very important that you first click in the Inbox for that Personal Folders file and make sure that no new items were placed in the Inbox up to this point. You can click and drag any items from the Inbox of the new .pst file to the old .pst file. Right-click the Personal Folders file that you want to discard, and then click Close Personal Folders. If the Close Personal Folders option is not available, either you are trying to remove the .pst file that Outlook created when you started Outlook the first time, or the default delivery location is still pointing to the wrong file. Make sure you are trying to remove the Personal Folders file that doesn't have any of your items, or repeat the steps in the "Deliver messages to the previously used .pst file" section to change the default delivery location.

Closing a .pst file doesn't delete the file or remove any items from it. The file is no longer displayed in the Navigation Pane. You can always add any .pst file back to the display:

  1. On the File menu, point to Open, and then click Outlook Data File.
  2. Click the .pst file you want to open, and then click OK.

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Applies to:
Outlook 2007