Copy the Outlook folder structure to another computer

Applies to
Microsoft Office Outlook® 2003
Microsoft Outlook® 2002

You have developed the perfect folder system for filing your e-mail messages, Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, and Note items. A coworker might be admiring your organizational excellence and wants to set up their Outlook folders like you have done.

Your coworker could create folders one by one to simulate your ingenious filing system. However, in the spirit of team collaboration, you decide to share your entire structure with them — without all of your items, of course.

You can use the Outlook export and AutoArchive (AutoArchive: To automatically remove items to another folder periodically or delete them, based on the amount of time that they have been in the folder.) features to make a duplicate 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.) that contains the same folder structure as your existing Outlook folder structure, minus all of the data items.

 Note   After the two .pst files are completed, they are totally separate and only share the same folder structure. All items from the original folders will be removed.

Export all folders and data to a new .pst file

  1. On the File menu, click Import and Export.
  2. Click Export to a file, and then click Next.
  3. Click Personal Folder File (.pst), and then click Next.
  4. Click the top folder, select the Include subfolders check box, and then click Next.
  5. Type or browse to the folder that you want to save the new file to and include a file name.
  6. Click Finish.

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Open and display the new .pst file

  1. When the export is completed, on the File menu, point to Open, and then click Outlook Data File.
  2. Select the file that you created in the previous "Export all folders and data to a new .pst file" section, and then click OK.

The duplicate .pst file will appear in the Navigation Pane (Navigation Pane: The column on the left side of the Outlook window that includes buttons for the Mail, Calendar, and Tasks views and the folders within each view. Click a folder to show the items in the folder.).

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Archive all data in the new .pst file

  1. On the File menu, click Archive.
  2. Click the top folder.
  3. Click Archive this folder and all subfolders.
  4. Select the Include items with "Do not AutoArchive" check box.
  5. In the Archive items older than box, type today's date.
  6. In the Archive file box, change the file name at the end of the folder path to removeditems.pst.
  7. Click OK.

 Note   The status bar will display that archiving is in progress. Your folders will still contain items until the archive is complete.

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Compress the new .pst file

  1. Right-click the top folder of the new .pst file.
  2. Click Properties for ".pst file name".
  3. Click Advanced.
  4. Click Compact Now.
  5. When the compact is complete, click OK twice.

After you have completed all of the steps in the following "Copy and open the new .pst file on another computer" section, you can copy the new .pst file to another computer, where you or someone else can add it in their Outlook profile.

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Copy and open the new .pst file on another computer

Your .pst file is now a replica of the original file structure on your Outlook profile. The big difference is that all of your data is removed.

  1. Use Microsoft Windows® Explorer to copy the .pst file to the drive:\Documents and Settings\user\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook folder on the other computer.

Although you can keep your data files in any folder, this is the default folder that Outlook uses when creating .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. In Windows Explorer, on the Tools menu, click Folder Options. On the View tab, under Advanced Settings, under Files and Folders, under Hidden files and folders, click Show hidden files and folders. If you want to see all file name extensions, clear the Hide extensions for known file types check box. Hidden folders appear dimmed to indicate that they are not typical folders.

  1. Start Outlook.
  2. On the File menu, point to Open, and then click Outlook Data File.
  3. Select the file that you moved to this new computer, and then click OK.

The blank .pst file will appear in the Navigation Pane, complete with the same folder structure as the original.

You can now copy or move items to this new folder structure.


  • If this new .pst file is to be your main working file and you want new and sent e-mail messages to be delivered to it, you must change the default delivery location setting in Outlook. Outlook Help provides instructions on how to change the delivery location.
  • If the Outlook profile on the new computer has a Microsoft Exchange Server account and you want to keep all of your data on the e-mail server, you will need to copy the folders from the new .pst file to a location under Mailbox - Your Name. The new .pst file that you created stores all items locally on your computer, and you will not be able to access those items from Microsoft Office Outlook Web Access or another location.

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Applies to:
Outlook 2003