Move Outlook information to another computer that has Outlook 2010 installed

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This article covers moving email messages, contacts, calendar items, tasks, and notes that you have saved in Microsoft Outlook 2003, Outlook 2007, or Outlook 2010 to another computer where Outlook 2010 is installed.

 Important    It is highly recommended that you move your data to the new computer before you add the email account. This makes migrating data simpler and more reliable.

Moving your Outlook data requires that you have a way to copy files from your old computer to your new computer. There are many ways to do this, including using:

  • Removable flash drives (USB memory stick)
  • Portable hard drives
  • Recordable CDs or DVDs
  • Network connections between the two computers

 Note    Windows Easy Transfer is a Windows feature that enables you to copy files and settings from one computer to another. Some Outlook users experience corrupted Outlook profiles when using Windows Easy Transfer. The steps in this article don’t use Windows Easy Transfer.

In this article


Background information

If you are an advanced Windows and Outlook user, you might want to skip to Step 1: Copy files from the old computer.

Where are my messages, calendar items, contacts, and tasks saved?

Some accounts, such as Microsoft Exchange Server, Outlook.com (formerly Hotmail), and Google Gmail save your information on a mail server. For better performance, some of these accounts use a synchronized local copy on your computer, however, it’s not necessary to back up or move these files as your information can be downloaded again from the mail server to your new computer.

Other accounts, such as the most common POP3 accounts, use a file on your computer to save all of your messages, as well as, contacts, calendar items, tasks, and notes. This file is called a Personal Folders file in versions prior to Outlook 2010. In Outlook 2010, the name has changed to Outlook Data File. In any Outlook version, this file has a file extension of .pst which is why many people refer to the file as a “pst file.”

POP3 email accounts are commonly the account type that you use with your personal Internet service provider (ISP).

How can I tell what type of account I have?

To determine what type of email account that is configured in Outlook on the old computer, do the following:

  • Outlook 2010    Click the File tab. Click Account Settings, and then click Account Settings. On the E-mail tab, the account type is listed in the Type column.
  • Outlook 2007    On the Tools menu, click Account Settings. On the E-mail tab, the account type is listed in the Type column.
  • Outlook 2003    On the Tools menu, click E-mail Accounts. Click View or change existing e-mail accounts. On the E-mail tab, the account type is listed in the Type column.

The most common entries are as follows:

Type Description Data file
Microsoft Exchange Exchange Server account Data is usually kept on the Exchange mail server. Offline Outlook Data Files (.ost) on your computer don’t need to be moved or backed up. The file is re-created on your new computer when you add the account to Outlook.
POP or POP/SMTP POP3 Data is kept on your computer in an Outlook Data File (.pst). You should move this file to the new computer if you want to continue to have access to your items.
MAPI Outlook.com (using the Outlook Connector) Data is kept on the Office.com servers. Offline Outlook Data Files (.ost) or Outlook Data Files (.pst) on your computer don’t need to be moved or backed up. These files are re-created on your new computer when you add the account to Outlook.
IMAP or IMAP/SMTP IMAP4 account Data is kept on the mail server. A synchronized copy of your items is kept on your computer in an Outlook Data File (.pst). You don’t need to move or back up these files. These files are re-created on your new computer when you add the account to Outlook.

What other files do I need to move?

Depending on how you use Outlook, there are other files that you might want to move. This includes the following:

  • Auto-Complete List
  • Signatures
  • Stationery
  • Junk E-mail Filter Lists
  • Rules

For more information on moving these files, see the last section of this article, Moving other Outlook files.

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Step 1: Copy the files from the old computer

On your old computer, exit Outlook. Open the folder where your .pst file is saved. These steps are for the default location. If you created or moved your data files to another folder, open that folder.

Because the default folder is hidden folder, the easiest way to open the folder is to use the command %USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook on the Start menu.

  • Windows 7    Click Start. Next to the Shut down button, in the Search programs and files box, type %USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook and then press Enter.

Windows 7 Start menu with Search box

  • Windows Vista    Click Start. Next to the Shut Down button, in the Search box, type %USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook and then press Enter.

Windows Vista Start button and Search box

  • Windows XP    Click Start, click Run, type %USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook and then press Enter.

Windows XP Start button and Run command

After you press Enter, the folder where your Outlook data files are located opens.

 Note    Beginning with Outlook 2010, all new Outlook Data Files (.pst) are created in your Documents folder in a new folder named Outlook Files. If you upgraded your old computer to Outlook 2010, you could have .pst files in both locations. Make sure that you check both locations if you were using Outlook 2010 on the old computer.

Many Outlook users have only one Outlook data file which is usually named Outlook.pst. You might see other Outlook data files such as Internet Calendar Subscriptions or SharePoint Lists. These two files don’t need to be moved as they contain information that is saved on a server can be downloaded again to your new computer. Any offline Outlook Data File (.ost) is an Exchange Server account offline file. Offline Outlook Data Files (.ost) shouldn’t be moved to another computer. This file contains a copy of your Outlook data that is saved on a server. It will be automatically re-created on the new computer.

 Note    By default, file extensions are hidden in Windows. Both Outlook Data Files (.pst) and offline Outlook Data Files (.ost) are listed as a Type of Outlook Data File. To change whether file extensions are shown, in Window Explorer on the Tools menu (in Windows 7 or Windows Vista, press the ALT key to see the Tools menu), click Folder Options. On the View tab select or clear the Hide extensions for known file types check box.

To determine which data files are associated with an email account in Outlook on the old computer, do the following:

  • Outlook 2010    Click the File tab. Click Account Settings, and then click Account Settings. On the Data Files tab, the data files and locations are listed.
  • Outlook 2007    On the Tools menu, click Account Settings. On the Data Files tab, the data files and locations are listed.
  • Outlook 2003    On the Tools menu, click Account Settings. On the Data Files tab, the data files and locations are listed.

 Important    If you see a file named archive.pst or you have created Outlook Data Files (.pst) files as archives or backups, you should also copy these files. When in doubt, if you have other Outlook Data Files (.pst), and you’re not sure which are needed, the safest choice is to copy them all.

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Step 2: Copy the files to the new computer

Beginning with Outlook 2010, all new Outlook Data Files (.pst) files are created in your Documents folder in a new folder named Outlook Files.

  1. In the Documents folder, open the Outlook Files folder. If the folder doesn’t exist, create it.
  1. Copy the files from your old computer to the Outlook Files folder.

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Step 3: Add the information from your old computer to Outlook 2010 on the new computer

How you proceed at this step depends on whether you have already used Outlook 2010 on the new computer.

Click one of the following links:

Outlook 2010 has never been started on the new computer

  1. Start Outlook.
  2. Follow on instructions on your screen to add your email account.

In the Add New Account dialog box, when your account is added, Congratulations! appears.

Don’t click Finish.

  1. At the bottom of the dialog box, select the Manually configure settings check box, and then click Next.
  2. Under Deliver new messages to click Existing Outlook Data File.
  3. Click Browse.
  4. Click the Outlook Data File (.pst) that you moved, and then click OK.
  5. Click Next, and then click Finish.

When Outlook opens, your old information appears in the folders in the Navigation Pane. Your new messages will be saved to these same folders and to the Outlook Data File (.pst) file on your computer.

Outlook 2010 has already been used on the new computer, but the email account I am moving hasn’t been set up

It is recommended that you create a new Outlook profile. A profile consists of accounts, data files, and settings that specify where your email messages are saved.

Creating a new profile is not required, but reduces the possibility of issues accessing the imported information. If a new profile is created, all email accounts that you want to use must be added, even if you had already added them to the existing profile.

Option 1: Create a new profile
  1. In Control Panel, click or double-click Mail.

Where is Mail in Control Panel?

Mail appears in different Control Panel locations depending upon the version of the Microsoft Windows operating system, Control Panel view selected, and whether a 32- or 64-bit operating system or version of Outlook 2010 is installed.

The easiest way to locate Mail is to open Control Panel in Windows, and then in the Search box at the top of window, type Mail. In Control Panel for Windows XP, type Mail in the Address box.

The Mail icon appears after Outlook starts for the first time.

  1. The title bar of the Mail Setup dialog box contains the name of the current profile. To select a different existing profile, click Show Profiles, select the profile name, and then click Properties.
  2. Click Show Profiles.
  3. Click Add.
  4. Type a name for the profile, and then click OK.
  5. Follow on instructions on your screen to add your email account.

In the Add New Account dialog box, when your account is added, Congratulations! appears.

Don’t click Finish.

  1. At the bottom of the dialog box, select the Manually configure settings check box, and then click Next.
  2. Under Deliver new messages to click Existing Outlook Data File.
  3. Click Browse.
  4. Click the Outlook Data File (.pst) that you moved, and then click OK.
  5. Click Next, and then click Finish.

When multiple profiles exist, you can configure Outlook to prompt you when Outlook starts to choose which profile to use. If the profile prompt is turned off, the default profile is used. For more information about profile prompts, see Turn on or off profile prompt.

  1. Under When starting Microsoft Outlook, use this profile, click Prompt for a profile to be used or Always use this profile.

Prompt for a profile to be used command on Mail dialog box

  1. Click OK to close the Mail dialog box.
Option 2: Keep the current profile
  1. Start Outlook.
  2. Click the File tab.
  3. Under Account Information, click Add Account.
  4. Follow on instructions on your screen to add your email account.

 Note    For complete information about adding accounts, see Add or remove an e-mail account.

In the Add New Account dialog box, when your account is added, Congratulations! appears.

  1. At the bottom of the dialog box, select the Manually configure settings check box, and then click Next.
  2. Under Deliver new messages to click Existing Outlook Data File.
  3. Click Browse.
  4. Click the Outlook Data File (.pst) that you moved, and then click OK.
  5. Click Next, and then click Finish.

Outlook 2010 has already been used on the new computer and the email account I am moving is already configured and in use

It is recommended that you create a new Outlook profile. A profile consists of accounts, data files, and settings that specify where your email messages are saved.

Creating a new profile is not required, but reduces the possibility of issues accessing the imported information. If you create a new profile, you will need to add all email accounts that you want to use, even if you had already added them to the existing profile.

This scenario is for the following situation:

  • You have already set up the email account in Outlook 2010 on the new computer.
  • You have sent or received messages, added calendar items, contacts, tasks, or notes and want to keep this information.

This requires that the information in the data file from your old computer and the file already in use on the new computer be merged.

If you don’t want to keep the information already saved on the new computer, you can remove the account, return to the section Outlook 2010 has already been used at least once, but the email account I am moving hasn’t been set up, and proceed with one of the two options listed. Continue with this section if you want to keep the messages and items contained in both the data file (.pst) on old computer and the new computer.

Option 1: Create a new profile
  1. In Control Panel, click or double-click Mail.

Where is Mail in Control Panel?

Mail appears in different Control Panel locations depending upon the version of the Microsoft Windows operating system, Control Panel view selected, and whether a 32- or 64-bit operating system or version of Outlook 2010 is installed.

The easiest way to locate Mail is to open Control Panel in Windows, and then in the Search box at the top of window, type Mail. In Control Panel for Windows XP, type Mail in the Address box.

The Mail icon appears after Outlook starts for the first time.

  1. The title bar of the Mail Setup dialog box contains the name of the current profile. To select a different existing profile, click Show Profiles, select the profile name, and then click Properties.
    1. Click Show Profiles.
    2. Click Add.
    3. Type a name for the profile, and then click OK.
    4. Follow on instructions on your screen to add your email account.

 Note    For complete information about adding accounts, see Add or remove an e-mail account.

In the Add New Account dialog box, when your account is added, Congratulations! appears.

Don’t click Finish.

  1. At the bottom of the dialog box, select the Manually configure settings check box, and then click Next.
  2. Under Deliver new messages to click Existing Outlook Data File.
  3. Click Browse.
  4. Click the Outlook Data File (.pst) that you moved, and then click OK.
  5. Click Next, and then click Finish.

When multiple profiles exist, you can configure Outlook to prompt you when Outlook starts to choose which profile to use. If the profile prompt is turned off, the default profile is used. For more information about profile prompts, see Turn on or off profile prompt.

  1. Under When starting Microsoft Outlook, use this profile, click Prompt for a profile to be used or Always use this profile.

Prompt for a profile to be used command on Mail dialog box

  1. Click OK to close the Mail dialog box.
  1. Start Outlook.
  2. Click the File tab.
  3. Click Open.
  4. Click Import.
  5. In the Import and Export Wizard, click Import from another program or file, and the click Next.

Import and Export Wizard with Import from another program or file selected

  1. Click Outlook Data File (.pst), and then click Next.

Import and Export Wizard with Outlook Data File (.pst) selected

  1. Click Browse, and then choose the file to import.

 Note    Under Options, it is recommended that you click Do not import duplicates unless you want the imported information to replace or duplicate items already in Outlook.Import and Export Wizard with Do not import duplicates selected

  1. Click Next.
  2. If a password was assigned to the Outlook Data File (.pst), you are prompted to enter the password, and then click OK.
  3. Set the options for importing items. The default settings usually don’t need to be changed.

Import and Export Wizard with default options selected

  • The top folder — usually Personal Folders, Outlook Data File, or your email address — is selected automatically.
  • Include subfolders is selected by default. All folders under the folder selected will be imported.
  • The default selection of Import items into the same folder in matches the folders from the imported file to the folders in Outlook. If a folder doesn’t exist in Outlook, it will be created.
  1. Click Finish.
Option 2: Use the existing profile
  1. Start Outlook.
  2. Click the File tab.
  3. Under Account Information, click Add Account.
  4. Follow on instructions on your screen to add your email account.

 Note    For complete information about adding accounts, see Add or remove an e-mail account.

In the Add New Account dialog box, when your account is added, Congratulations! appears.

  1. At the bottom of the dialog box, select the Manually configure settings check box, and then click Next.
  2. Under Deliver new messages to click Existing Outlook Data File.
  3. Click Browse.
  4. Click the Outlook Data File (.pst) that you moved, and then click OK.
  5. Click Next, and then click Finish.

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Moving other Outlook files

Depending on how you use Outlook, there are other files that you might want to move. This includes the following:

  • Auto-Complete List    The Auto-Complete List is a feature in Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2007 which displays suggestions for names and e-mail addresses as you begin to type them in the To, Cc, and Bcc boxes. These suggestions are possible matches from a list of names and e-mail addresses from the e-mail messages that you have sent. To move this list, see Import Auto-Complete List from another computer.

 Note    In Outlook 2010, the Auto-Complete List is no longer saved in a file with an extension of .nk2. The Auto-Complete List entries are now saved in your Microsoft Exchange Server mailbox or in the Outlook Data File (.pst) for your account. However, if you want to copy the Auto-Complete List (.nk2) from another computer that was using a POP3 accounts, you must import it on the new computer. For more information, see Import Auto-Complete List from another computer or Video: Import Auto-Complete List entries.

  • Signatures    Personalized signatures can be included with messages that you send. These can be moved to another computer. To move your signatures, see Copy email signatures to another computer.
  • Stationery    To move stationery from the older computer to the new one, see Copy stationery to another computer.
  • Junk E-mail Filter Lists    The entries on your Safe Senders, Safe Recipients, and Blocked Senders lists can be exported from the old computer and imported on the new one. For more information, see Export addresses from the Junk E-mail Filter Lists.
  • Rules Your rules are saved in your Exchange Server account mailbox or for other accounts within the .pst file and, therefore, should not require any manual process to move between computers. If a problem does occur, rules can be manually exported and imported. For more information, see Import or export a set of rules.

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Applies to:
Outlook 2010, Outlook 2007, Outlook 2003