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.

Please post long or more complicated questions at Outlookforums.

34 responses to “Changing the Default Data File”

  1. M Isaac

    Tried to reassign the default data file in Outlook 2010.. The "set as Default" command is grayed out when I click on any other file.

    Help?

  2. orgu

    I have removed my POP3 account but I cannot remove the data file (which is set as default)? Any suggestions how to do?

  3. ejp

    Diane, I created a new profile to fix the never-ending, infinite loop p/w pop-up problem (other forum) and of course it created a new .pst file, into which all the ATT/Yahoo email flowed down to from their server (Yahoo!,, Yippie, etc.). However, when I open the E-mail Accounts dialog box you describe above, I only have the options for CHANGE, ADD, REMOVE and no SET AS DEFAULT or MOVE UP. What gives? I have seen and done what you describe in years past but don't recall seeing those key buttons missing. The old/original .pst is in the list of 2 entries, and following the path, it is the right one as it's huge as it should be and the new one is tiny. How the heck to I point Outlook 2003 to the old .pst file without those key dialog box buttons.

    Thanks again for your solid support!

  4. ejp

    I got it working thanks. Followed your instr above --> File->Open....select desired data file.

    I now have 2 Personal Folders but will delete wrong one once it's established all cared-about new email is in the main/original .pst (did cut/paste).

    Thanks!

  5. ejp

    ok, hopefully one last thing.

    How do I get it to use my old .NK2 file? I went to the "roaming" path and renamed the new blank .NK2 it created to a junk name and remamed my good one to match the new profile name, and on running Outlook and doing 1 email, it went ahead and created an identically named .NK2 again with the one new entry. thought I had the .NK2 figure out but guess not. What gives?

  6. ejp

    forgot to mention, it's outlook 2003 on Win7.

  7. ejp

    ok, thanks. :-( Is there a short-cut way to repopulate without manually typing in full addr and sending emails to people? It seems not to want to communicate with contacts list. When I click TO: in compose mode, there are no names in the field in box that pops up even though "contacts" appears in upper right box. I have original fully populated contacts folder from before appearing in left pane when in regular mail/send mode.

    When I do this on tower PC with Outlook 2010, I see my full contacts list with all names present.

  8. janvanswigchum

    My computer is instable at the moment, so when it shuts off, mywork is saved in the concept-map.
    How can I restart my document (without using copy)?

  9. rob

    Wjy cannot IMAP data files be designated as the default? When I open Outlook I end up with a mail profile that I cannot delete, close or otherwise remove in the side pane. This "Outlook Data File" does nothing. nothing at all. But it is the only one that opens all the way when Outlook first opens, no email messages will ever go there, no calendar appointments, nothing. I just want to get rid of it.

  10. Rob

    Thanks for the reply, so you're saying the upgrade to 2013 would be worth it, even if just to get rid of the useless folders and data file. It really is just an annoyance, and that's all, to see the entire list of folders under that data file in the email tab, but it's one of those things that just drives me batty.

  11. rob

    Many thanks again. I am certainly not an expert user at this stuff, but what I've read on that link is pretty cool. Wonder if they added the autonumber feature back into Access?
    will go on my clubs laptop tonight and download that trial.

  12. Al

    I was getting an error :
    Task ‘Microsoft Exchange Server’ reported error (0x8004010F) : ‘The operation failed. An object could not be found.’
    error and searched the web for a solution to why this was happening so I tried the following:

    “Another way to solve this problem is :
    In Outlook 2010, Go to the File Tab and click on Account Settings
    Click on the account you are having issues with and click on the “Change Folder” button at the bottom
    Pick Personal Folders\Inbox and hit OK. Click Send/Receive all.”

    It didn't work and and now my OWA cannot see any personal files. How can I change it back to storing them on Exchange?

  13. bparmar

    How to simplyfy outlook data management files, as when you open reading pane, it will show same folders three time below one and other, it is very confusing though very simple. could you please help , using outlook 2010 windows7

  14. Nabeel Kamal

    Thank you for your assistance, but my problem was not solvable. When I click on outlook, it tells me cannot open my default email folder; File access denied. I am the only one using that computer and it keeps telling me that I do not have permission. I deleted and re-installed “Outlook" but with no luck.
    I cannot open or get any email.
    Please help if you can. Thank you & have a blessed afternoon.

  15. Oded Miller

    Hello Diane. Your clarification that "IMAP data files cannot be set as default." was very helpful and led to a constructive resolution of my problem.
    Best regards
    Oded

  16. Joe

    Hello Diane: I have two calendars setup in my outlook. One is the default and the other is linked to outlook.com connector. The one that shows up in my outlook today I would like to change to show outlook.com connector calendar. Is there a way to do this?
    THANK YOU JOE

  17. thiet ke logo

    i use outlook express before and easy to change data file location, but i am new to microsoft outlook 2007 and not easy to change data file location. Now i can do it after reading this post. Many thanks

  18. Sherri

    Hi Diane. My att.net account has been closed for over 2 years-yet Outlook lists it as my Default email address. I just read your earlier response about how IMAP emails cannot be default emails, which is what my new gmail.com email is. But since I no longer have access to att.net, how do I get rid of it in Outlook?

  19. jay

    Diane,

    Hi, I hope you can shed some light on a sync issue between Outlook (2010 -32 bit) and iPhone (4, iOS 7). There are a couple of issues. First, using iTunes as the sync mechanism, data (contacts, calendar, etc) transfers to the iphone, but not from the iphone to Outlook. I've read numerous forums, applying what I read but to no avail. I'm thinking the issue may be related to the default outlook pst is connected to an earthlink account (old school). Is it worth setting up the outlook pst to one of my gmail accounts? How best should I do that?
    The second issue relates to icloud. I tried icloud, but I lost the ability to sort contacts by categories and it wiped out my contact distribution lists. I moved the data back from the icloud contacts, calendars, etc, and removed icloud. I understand there are a number of sync issues with outlook and icloud.... Is there anyway to restore my distribution lists?

    Many thanks.

    Jay

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