Changing the Default Data File

Last reviewed on August 18, 2013

These instructions show you how to change the Inbox folder new messages are delivered to. This does not apply to IMAP and Outlook Connector accounts or Exchange accounts in cache mode – those accounts always use their own Inbox and you need to use Rules to move messages to other folders.

Along with the Inbox, the default delivery location controls where new contacts and appointments are put.

When you create a new profile, Outlook creates a new pst for you. Because the default data file determines where new POP3 or Exchange messages will be delivered and where Outlook stores your calendar, contacts, tasks, notes, and journal items, you may want to use an existing PST instead.

Use this method, not File, Import, to use your old data when you get a new computer.

Note: In Outlook 2007 and older, reminders only fire on items stored in the default delivery file and the sharing features found in Exchange Server only work if the Exchange mailbox is the default delivery location.

Outlook 2007/2010/2013

If you are using an existing PST, add it to your profile using the File, Open, Outlook Data File menu. The PST can be stored anywhere on your hard drive.

Account Settings dialog on Outlook 2010 and 2007Outlook 2007: Go to Tools menu, Account Settings. In Outlook 2010/2013: Go to File tab, Account Settings

  1. Open the Account Settings dialog and select the Data Files tab.
  2. Select the PST file you want to use as default
  3. Click the Set as Default button

Outlook 2002/2003

If you are using an existing PST, add it to your profile using the File, Open, Outlook Data File menu. The PST can be stored anywhere on your hard drive.

From the Tools, Email Accounts menu, select View or change existing email accounts, then Next to open the Email Accounts dialog:

Accounts in Outlook 2003 and olderSelect the dropdown menu below Deliver new email to the following location and select the data store you want to use. In this example, I have two Outlook Connector accounts and one Exchange server account to choose from.

Choose a different data file to deliver mail to in Outlook 2003 and older. Select the file you wish to use and click Finish. You may need to restart Outlook for the changes to take effect.

Adding a Data File

If you need to create a new Outlook Data file or want to select an existing one that’s not part of your profile, you’ll need to click the Add button (Outlook 2007/2010/2013) or New Outlook Data File button (Outlook 2002/2003).

In the first screen you may need to choose the type of file – depending on your version of Outlook, you will have one or two choices, Office Outlook personal folder format (for Outlook 2003 and up) or Outlook 97/2002 compatible format. Select the format (Outlook Personal Folder format is recommended unless you need to open it in Outlook 2002 or older, then choose the 97-2002 format) and click Ok to open the Create or Open Outlook Data File dialog.

  • To create a new data file, enter a new filename and click Ok.
  • To use an existing data file, browse to locate it and select it, then click Ok.

Enter a friendly display name for the data file and click Ok.

More Information

How to create a new profile (Outlook Tips)
Move a Personal Folders .pst file to a new location
How to move the IMAP personal folder (*.pst) - instructions for moving an IMAP or SharePoint PST files to a new location.

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.

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