Moving from Outlook Express to Outlook

Last reviewed on May 24, 2014   —  52 comments

Export OE to Outlook

When you are moving between OE and Outlook we recommend using OE’s export commands, not Outlook’s Import commands. When you import using Outlook’s commands, the received date won’t display in the message list.

Export Address Book

The Windows Address Book has an option to export to an existing “Microsoft Exchange Personal Address Book”. While you could create a PAB in older versions of Outlook, they are not supported in Outlook 2010. We don’t recommend using this method.

Either export your OE address book (wab) to a CSV file (text file) or open the address book and drag the contacts to a folder on your hard drive to create a vcard file for each contact. If you have Contact folders in your address book, you’ll need to drag those addresses to a folder on your hard drive as you can’t export them.

Save or export contacts in the windows address book

Contacts within groups will export to a text file with the other contacts, however the group membership will not included. You’ll need to recreate the Contact groups in Outlook or categorize the contacts.

To export your OE address book, open it and go to the File, Export menu. Choose Other address book then Text File (Comma Separated Values).

Dragging the contacts to a folder will create a vcard for each address, which we can get into Outlook. Outlook can’t bulk import the contacts, but you drag them into the Contacts folder then save and close the contacts to add them to Outlook.

It can be monotonous if you have a lot of contacts but we have a macro you can use to make quick work of the process. If you prefer to use a utility, we have a list of tools as well.

If you have just a .wab file to import (no mail) into Outlook, see Import a WAB file into Outlook on Windows 7/8

Export OE Email to Outlook

Unlike the address book, exporting of your Outlook Express email is fully automated.

Open Outlook Express, empty deleted items then go to File, Export menu and choose Messages. Select All folders or specific folders to export, holding Ctrl as you click to select multiple folders. Click OK and you’re done. The export process will use the same folder structure in Outlook, creating folders if they don’t exist in the data file.

If you want to keep copies of newsgroup messages you can create a folder in OE’s Local Folders, drag the newsgroup messages to the folder(s) and export the folders to Outlook.

Move the PST file to the new computer

To find your Outlook PST file, open Outlook and go to File, Data File Management (Outlook 2007 and older). Select the Data File and click Open folder. This opens Windows Explorer to the location of your pst file. Close Outlook and wait a few minutes, then copy the pst file to the new computer.

About Diane Poremsky

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 Outlook forums by

52 responses to “Moving from Outlook Express to Outlook”

  1. Saied Altabaa

    That sounds good.

    will try it and get back to you guys.

  2. Nic

    Thanks, this really helped. One question, is it safe to clear the live mail inbox to save disk space once you have exported the files from Live Mail to Outlook?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Yes, once you are satisfied that nothing is missing, you can delete the live mail files to save space.

  3. Nick Haylor

    I have exported myOulook express folders from Windows live messenger into outlook as above but where does do they go in outlook as I can not find them?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      They go into the default pst file, creating the same folder structure you had in Outlook Express. If you don't see them in Outlook, go to Control panel, search for mail - how many Outlook profiles are listed?

  4. Nick Haylor

    Thank you for your reply.
    I have now found them hidden away in storage folders, then imported folders. For me it was not the obvious place to look.
    Thanks, Nick

  5. R R McClean

    I changed from Outlook Express to Outlook 2010. Am only getting 1/3 of my e-mails in Outlook 2010 as I am getting in Outlook Express. I now have both so I can compare. What happened with the e-mails that are not coming to Outlook 2010? Tahnks RRM

    1. Diane Poremsky

      It's hard to say what happened. What type of account do you have configured? Do you have any idea what messages are missing? Did you look for them in the Junk mail folder or the Unread mail folder?

  6. richard mills

    I have read these posts, and have followed the directions. They have been very straightforward and clear - except to the point of finding my imported messages. I copied my .dbx messages from my old hard drive onto my new hard drive (in its own library). I then imported my .dbx files into Live Mail using the OE6 option. That seemed to work fine, so I then exported from Live Mail to Outlook 2010. My messages were copied, but when I went to look for them in the Storage, I could see the file folder and I could check the file size (which looked appropriate), but I still can't see the messages.

    I'm sure this is user error, but I'm not sure what to do or where to go now.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Can you find them using instant search? Are you looking in the Inbox folder? Using a view that is hiding read messages?

  7. richard mills

    I should add that I'm having no problem sending or receiving new mail - it's just the old stuff that I can't see.

  8. Jefferson

    A closely rtelaed problem (running MS Office Small Business, Outlook 2007 with Windows 7):I deleted the Business function that came standard with Outlook software. When I logged off and back on, my Favourite Folders list was gone, and so was the reading pane in my Inbox (I happen to like the reading pane on the right-hand side). The Favourite Folders list seems to look after itself: a few days later, afer I had used Outlook a fair bit, the Favourite Folders list was back, good as new! And, it is easy to get the reading pane back, temporarily, (View > Reading Pane > Right) but when I log out and log back in, it is always gone again! (Note: the reading pane for Sent Items remains the way I set it up on the right, no matter what!). How do I get the reading pane to stay put in my Inbox?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Try restarting Outlook with the cleanviews switch. It probably would not hurt to use the /resetnavpane switch too.

      Press Windows key+R to open the Run command, type
      outlook.exe /cleanviews
      and press enter. Note, there is a space between outlook.exe and the /.

  9. harvey

    After black Tuesday updates from MS last month, we had several computers not reboot after installing the patches. As a result, I chose to create a Win7 system with Outlook, a big step after using OE since it was introduced... over 300k of messages (21 GB).

    However to do this I had to first created a XP SP3 system, install the backup DBX files and install Outlook 2010. What a pain!

    But after folling the directions here and on the MS web site, I've come to the colusion, it can't be done using MS Import tooks. Really to bad they don't understand their customer needs!

    I tried twice and both times my Inbox (default account) lost all of the 2012 messages. I have about ten email accounts with rules that sort the in coming message into seperate folders. All of those imported into 2010 but now the Inbox - go figure.

    Now I wonder if I created a subfolder and moved all my 2012 messages into it, could I use the MS import routine? This takes about 40 hours and does not including another two days to index the PST file once in Win7... but what the hell, it is just electricy - right!

    OE worked great, simple text based tool, that was fast and has a small foot print. Why fix somethong that is not broken - MS... sell more software!


    1. Ben Scott (@Ben_s214)


      Agree with you 100% as I have gone through the same steps as you did to transfer OE messages to Outlook but the sub-folders are all messed up.

      OE is a much better mail client and it's a pity that Microsoft doesn't know what their customers treasure most.


  10. Steve

    Here's my scenario: I was using outlook express on an old WinXP PC. Windows suffered some sort of failure that makes booting that machine near impoosible. I have however, taken the hard drive out, put in in a USB case. So then, I have access to my OE inbox and the multitude of sub-inboxes.

    I now use a new machine with Win 7 with Outlook 2010. MY QUESTION IS: How can I import all my old OE folders into Outlook? I can copy the inboxes and put them in a particular folder if that's needed.


    1. Diane Poremsky

      OE message stores are in dbx files, which Outlook can't open. You will need to either use a 3rd party tool (listed under Tools) or will need to import the Mail into Windows Live Mail then export to Outlook. If you have a lot of mail and folders, a utility can be cost effective and eliminate the need to install Windows Live Mail.

  11. Steve

    Diane, thanks for the advice. I did eventually go the OE -> Live Mail -> Outlook route. After all, Live Mail was already on my PC. It took a while - sort of a set-it-running-and-go-get-lunch situation. It all worked out great and my zillions of emails in all those folders are back within reach. Thanks again!

  12. La

    "OE message stores are in dbx files, which Outlook can't open. You will need to either use a 3rd party tool (listed under Tools)" - Could you please elaborate on where to find the 3rd party tool - which Tool list are you referring to? In OE6 or somewhere on this site?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      At the bottom of the article is a tools list which contains links to tools that can be used to convert OE to Outlook. The two in the Spotlight will convert OE to Outlook directly, the other two will export the messages from the DBX to individual eml messages which can be opened by Outlook.

  13. George Papadopol

    Like others here I found help in the process of moving from XP+OE to W7+Outlook. I think i have the messages transfer done - bought a new Office 2010 Home & Business and installed it on the XP, imported the messages to Outlook.
    One thing I discovered - the pst file created was appreciably bigger than the OE store.If you do not have enough space, Outlook stops telling you how many messages. it has imported from the total in OE. then you have to do it again - remember tick copy over duplicates

    I have a question - my OE wab file has many folders under Main identity - is there any way or a 3rd party utility that can import this to Outlook and preserve the structure ? Outlook only imports the entries under Main identity same as OE exports to a CSV file.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Good point about data file size - yes, the pst will be larger, I'd guess by about 30%. This is because the PST stores more information. I would want an allowance of at last 2x the size of the OE folders of free space.

      I'm not sure if Aid4Mail or Address Magic can import them them.

      Have you seen the instructions on page 2? Drag the WAB contacts to a folder on your computer, then drag them to outlook. We have a macro that will do the dirty (boring) work to "import" into Outlook, a process which is mostly just opening the contact then hit save & close.

      If you want to make contact groups (distribution lists) see Create a DL

  14. George Papadopol

    Thank you - I will try the method on page 2. I will report how I fare with it.

  15. Spencer

    Excellent material posted here! Thank you Diane.

  16. Wendy Jones

    Thank you for this very helpful post. I have spent hours looking at converters but did not want to pay for a once off use of the programme. This has been such a helpful solution

  17. Halvor

    I haveinstalled Live Mail Version 2012 (Build 16.4.3505.0912)
    and imported my OE messages and address book. I then made an export to Outlook Exchange and everything looked to work, but it never asked me for a liocation of where to put the pst-file. Now i have scanned the hole C-dirve, but no pst-files have been created today. Any suggestion?

    Anyway: Is this export worth importing into Outlook2013 (you commnet on "the message headers are missing and you need to enter an address when you reply to an imported message")? Still valid?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Yes, the caveats apply to Outlook 2013 too. Did you have a profile set up in Outlook? If you have a profile set up and are exporting all folders it should use the current profile's data file.

  18. Željko

    Dear Diane, I see you are wery helpfull and right adress to help me. I have Outlook Express 6 with many massages and attached files from past years and I must keep them all. Now I must move all massages and adress book to new computer with Win 7 and Outlook 2010. How can I do this without mistakes or lost of data ? Thank you in advance. Best regards, Željko.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      I highly recommend using either Aid4Mail or Address Magic Plus to convert everything quickly and easily to Outlook.

  19. Atlantis

    Hello Diane, got a strange issue here.
    You said "Note: When you export from Windows Live Mail to Outlook, the message headers are missing and you need to enter an address when you reply to an imported message. If you need to reply from Outlook, it might be easier to install Outlook on the old computer and export, then move the pst."
    Well, I followed your instructions: I installed Outlook 2002 on the old PC (Win XP), exported the messages from Outlook Express to Outlook 2002, then exported the messages from Outlook 2002 into a .pst file that Outlook 2007 in the new PC (Win 7) imported apparently correctly. The problem lies in the fact that when I open an imported message and select "Reply", Outlook shows me only the NAME of the sender (e.g. "Jack"), and NOT the actual Email address. Double click on that "Name" has no effect.
    What's wrong? Cheers, Andy.

  20. Rinald Almer

    Hi Diana, I have the exact same issue as Atlantis (mail addresses replaced by plain text)and even in different scenarios. I have scanned the web for days, but this is the first time I've seen anybody else reporting this.
    The scenarios I've tried are:
    On my WinXP machine Export from OE6 to Outlook-2003 and also let Live Mail 2009 import the OE DBX files and export them to Outlook PST.
    On my Win8 machine use Live Mail to import DBX files and export to Outlook 2013 PST.
    The result is the same every time: you cannot reply to an imported message because the From: and Cc: fields are just plain text.

    The one difference between the old and the new PC is that Outlook 2013 shows a line in sharp brackets saying something like "This item contains an embedded script". (I'm not sure about the exact English text, because I'm using the Dutch version.) So it may be that mail links are translated to plain text for some security reason.

    Please advise how on to circumvent this.

    Regards, Ronald.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      I believe that is related to this issue:

      Note: When you export from Windows Live Mail to Outlook, the message headers are missing and you need to enter an address when you reply to an imported message.

      Exporting from OE directly to Outlook (both installed on the same computer) is the usual fix, but if it doesn't work, you'll need to use a utility to handle the export.

  21. Josh

    It was very helpful. I wouldn't have been able to do it without you. Thank you so much!

  22. Glenn

    Worked great for me, many thanks

  23. A.R.

    Really usefull. thanks.

  24. Robert Wolfe

    Where is the Windows Explorer address bar? I have never heard of this.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      It's the bar above the folders and files and below the toolbar or ribbon that lists the folder name. It can be turned off or hidden in one version of Windows. - if you click in it, you can copy the path or type/paste a new path.

  25. Chet Hedden

    You recommend ConvertMyEmail under the heading "Tools." Just a warning -- I fell for the recommendation and sales pitch and spent $20 to purchase it. However, it is vaporware. It does nothing. Once you enter your conversion parameters it just sits there as there is no arrow or button to convert anything. Naturally I requested a refund as the site claims a "money back guarantee." But after half a dozen requests for my money back, and a threat to dispute the charge with the bank, I have yet to receive any reply whatsoever.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      thanks for the warning!

  26. Vicky

    Hi Diane, thank you for your clear instructions. However I am having a problem moving my messages from IE/XP. I have installed WLM on my new Win7 computer and imported the messages as per the above instructions but my IE folders and subfolders are not there, the messages are all together in one inbox. What am I missing? I noticed that whilst importing, there was no option to select 'import from store directory' only the option to browse for the storage location. Hope you can help. Best wishes, Vicky

    1. Diane Poremsky

      Did you move the folders.dbx file too? That holds the subfolder information.

    2. Vicky

      Hi Diane,
      I finally found them thanks, there were so many different folders labelled 'Inbox' that I had to do a fair amount of shifting around of old messages but got there eventually.
      My next problem is that having set up two email accounts on Outlook, I am now finding that if I type a recipient's address into a new message, the email sends but never arrives, whereas if I reply to a message from the same recipient, it is received with no problem. Any ideas?
      I need to set up three more accounts in Outlook so will have five in total - is it something to do with that? I have unchecked the box for Autocomplete and it didn't fix it.
      Any help would be gratefully received.
      Regards, Vicky

    3. Diane Poremsky

      Do you get any NDRs back? Without an NDR it's really hard to say where the problem is.

      Did you empty the autocomplete list? (file, options, mail - about halfway down) If the address is coming from it, the list could be corrupt. If you are addressing the message from contacts, see if typing the address makes a difference - if so, the contacts are the problem.

  27. Mughal

    Hello Daine Poremsky,
    How are you
    I was using outlook express 6.0 with OS XP service pack 2 and now i update my OS window 7 and would like to know how i can import .dbx file in outlook 2007.
    i try my best but i can't.
    please reply me via email id possible.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      What happens when you try the steps?

      You need to set up Windows Live Mail on Windows 7 and import the dbx files (you need the entire folder of dbx files, not just some). If the old computer is available, you could install outlook on it and export to outlook then move the pst.

  28. FMSBT

    When I use export in OE XP, and click OK, as you instructed, I get an msg saying "The connection to the Microsoft exchange server is unavailable. Outlook must be online or connected to complete this action." ???

  29. FMSBT

    I don't know what you mean by your question. I'm a baby when it comes to technology. What I did try (not sure if this is what you meant by your question) is to create an account. When I exported to there, only a fraction of my emails went over. Are we talking about the same thing?

  30. FMSBT

    I'm trying to import into 2013. I can't make a pst file in Outlook Express to export from.

  31. FMSBT

    My problem seems to be that I can't export from OE XP to Outlook on Windows 8.1 because OE creates DBX files. I can't find any way around this.

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