How to locate, read, or recover items archived using AutoArchive

Last reviewed on June 3, 2013   —  38 comments

Applies to Microsoft Outlook 2010, Outlook 2007, Outlook 2003, Outlook 2002, Outlook 2000

When you use Outlook’s Archive or AutoArchive feature to remove older messages and appointments from your Outlook personal folders or mailbox, the archived messages, appointments, and tasks are moved to the archive.pst.

If you need to look at the messages at a later date, simply open the archive.pst file in your profile and find the message.

Using Outlook’s AutoArchive Feature | Configuring Outlook’s AutoArchive Settings Tutorial
Automatically Cleanup Outlook’s Deleted Item Folder using AutoArchive

Find the Archive.pst

When the archive.pst is not in your profile, you need to open the archive.pst using the File | Open | Open Outlook Data File command in all versions of Outlook. For many users, this command will open directly to the folder where the archive.pst is stored.

Find the file path in Autoarchive optionsIf the archive.pst file is not in the folder with your other pst files, you can get the file path from the AutoArchive settings dialog. Open the Tools | Options | Other | AutoArchive dialog and copy the file path.

Additionally, you can open the *.pst file in Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2007 from Account Settings, Data Files tab, or in Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007 using the File | Data File Management command.

Click Add, then Ok the pst format dialog to open the Create or Open Outlook Data File dialog.

Select the Archive pst file and click Ok to add it to your profile.

Warning: You don’t want to use Import and Export command to import your archived items back into Outlook. If you do, you’ll have to archive everything again and may end up with duplicates.

Restore archived messages

If you want to move contents of the archive back into your default data file, don’t use Import and Export commands. Open the archive.pst in Outlook then select the folders or items and use the Move to Folder command or drag the items to the desired data file.

Using Import or Copy will change the last modified date (in addition to creating copies) while moving will maintain the last modified date. This is important if you want to archive the messages again, since, by default, Outlook uses the last modified date when determining what to archive.

After you have finished working with your archive .pst file, here’s how to put it away:

  1. Display the Folder List if you don’t already see it (Folder List button on the navigation pane or Ctrl+6 on your keyboard).
  2. Right-click the icon for the archive file, then choose Close from the popup menu.

Note that if you copy an archived Personal Folders .pst file to a CD, you will not be able to read it directly from the CD. Outlook requires write access to open a .pst file and you’ll need to copy it to your computer hard drive.

Written by

Diane Poremsky
A Microsoft Outlook Most Valuable Professional (MVP) since 1999, Diane is the author of several books, including Outlook 2013 Absolute Beginners Book. She also created video training CDs and online training classes for Microsoft Outlook. You can find her helping people online in Outlook Forums as well as in the Microsoft Answers and TechNet forums.

Please post long or more complicated questions at Outlookforums.

38 responses to “How to locate, read, or recover items archived using AutoArchive”

  1. Pamela Perrott

    i've found the archive.pst file but my archived sent mail isn't there. Where might it have gone? I recently moved to Windows 7 and Office 2007 from Windows 98 and Office 2003. I never had a problem prior to my upgrade, but now I can't find anything archived since my upgrade. autoarchive has run several times but I don't know where it put my items. I have the archive.pst file in my data files under Outlook, so I can look at what's there, but it doesn't contain my recently archived mail.

  2. Jerry

    Hi Pamela, I have a archive that has emails in it, but when i open it in Outlook 2007 it dose'nt display any of my emails. Can you help me to find my email in this archive .pst file? Thanks

  3. Jerry

    Sorry Diane - I called you Pamela. Please accept my apologies.

  4. scott

    Hi Diane- I have read many of your posts, but cannot find an answer to this...I restored my archive pst file, after I downloaded it from a cloud source (MOZY) to a new computer. My past emails are there, but no calendar, contact, or tasks show up. I cannot figure why not?

  5. denise

    I cannot read meetings marked as private in my archived calendar. Can you help please?

  6. castawayranch

    Just bought new computer, I was on XP, with outlook 2010
    now on Win 8.1 hard learning curve.
    My outlook 2010 is now moving "read" e-mails to ??? I have looked under archives but still can't find them. Help please

  7. Don

    I have the same problem that Pamela (July 2, 2012) did - I created an archive and saved certain messages to it (sent mail prior to a certain date) and now the messages have disappeared. I know where the file is that I sent them to, but when I look at it through Windows Explorer (in Windows 7) it is an impossibly small size, and although the folder name (Sent Mail) shows up in my Outlook Window in the Archives section, no mail appears there. But all the mail prior to the date I set is gone from my Sent Mail folder.

  8. Willy Ramos

    I am able to access the archive file but how do I conduct a keyword search through the e-mails? I would like to be able to search for a keyword instead of looking at each and every message.

  9. Leslie Gertsch

    My company computer was recently replaced, and Outlook (indeed, all Office) was changed to 2010. The archived calendar has disappeared. Not there-but-empty, just totally gone. No link to click.

  10. Leslie Gertsch

    I don't know what form the archive was, but the archived calendar could be selected through a link on the left side of the window. As for the profile, our IT department set up the new system, so I have no idea about the profile.

  11. Aniketh Peddu

    Hi Diane,

    I'm in a bit of a glitch here. Any help would be wonderful.
    I had around 40 or more folders under Inbox all categorized.
    Now I have selected Clean up tools in Settings and searched for mails older than 30 days and when i found them just moved them to my PST.
    Unfortunately my PST is not categorized and now I desperately need the mails that were transferred to my PST moved back to the exact folders under Inbox(I cannot do it manually since I myself am not aware which folder they might belong to and there is around 1.5GB of mails that need to be reversed).
    Can this be done in any way using any kind out software or anyhow fiddling with registry.
    My PST is on my company network Drive BTW.

  12. Sharon

    Hi Diane - hoping you can help. I've successfully done an Auto Archive, but now when I look for older messages in my sub folders in my archive - it has my email address label on all of them instead of the person that I sent those to like it does in my standard inbox. Meaning I can't sort on my "to" function because they all are classified as being to me even though the actual message was to someone else. Why would this happen instead of just being an exact duplicate of my inbox? Any way around this? I appreciate any help - thank you very much.

  13. sbranchen

    Hi again - I actually had to take the "To" field and put it there removing the "From" field and now everything is fine. Thank you so much for your help. This worked!

  14. Prateek

    Hi Diane

    My company mailbox has migrated to a new domain and so, I deleted the old mailbox without saving the archived file into a pst , thinking that I would be able to connect to it , just like we do with pst file. Now, I cannot find the archived file.

    Could you please help me with this, how n where to look for it and recover my mails?

  15. Katie

    When I archive things, are they accessible by everyone like in a Sharepoint file, or can they still only be viewed by me? I'm not sure how the archiving works and who has access to archived files.

  16. Julie Obiefuna

    Hello Diane, kudos to the great work you are doing. I tried deleting a file from one of my archived folders, but unfortunately deleted (Shift + Delete) the folder itself! Now over 1000 important mails are gone!
    Is there a way I can recover these mails?
    Please assist.

  17. Beyene

    I was looking for post mails but was unable to find them. Now I do. Thanks.

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