Moving Outlook to a new Windows computer

Last reviewed on February 22, 2014

This page covers the steps necessary to move Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2013 from Windows 7 to a new computer running Windows 7 or Windows 8. This page is an update to our page at Moving Outlook to a New Computer, which covers moving Outlook 2003 or 2007 from Windows XP to Windows 7 (or 8).

The steps are similar for all versions of Outlook and Windows, but dialogs and folder paths can vary. This page uses screenshots and menus from Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013.

Do you leave mail on the POP3 server? See this section. By default Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013 automatically leave POP3 mail on the server for 14 days.

Things to keep in mind when you are preparing the new computer:

  • You really only need to move the PST and create a new profile using this PST, the other files Outlook uses are created as you use Outlook.
  • If you use Windows Easy Transfer to move your Outlook data, you may need to recreate your Outlook profile as the move process can corrupt the profile.
  • You need to install Office (or Outlook) on the new computer. You can only move user data, not the program itself.
  • Your accounts are stored in the registry and need to be recreated on the new computer.

Get the files from old computer | Put files on New Computer | Create a Profile | More Settings
Add Old Data File (*.PST) | Finishing Touches | Signatures & Stationery
Leave on Server issues | Links

Step 1: Get the files from old computer

If you use POP3 or have archives or local PST files in your profile, you'll need to move them to the new computer. It's not necessary to move data files used for IMAP email, Hotmail Connector, or Exchange mailbox as the mail (and calendar and contacts for Hotmail and Exchange) are stored on the mail server.

If you need to recover pst files from a hard drive removed from a crashed computer, see Recover Outlook Data Files from a Crashed Computer

The PST file contains your POP3 email, calendar, and contacts.

If you have an IMAP account in Outlook 2010 or older, you'll have email in one PST file and a separate *.PST file for Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, and Notes. You'll need to copy the *.PST used for calendar and contacts to the new computer. Outlook 2013 uses an *.OST file for IMAP accounts, with Calendar, Contacts, and Tasks stored in the *.OST file. You'll need to export the Calendar, Contacts, and Tasks (and Notes) to a *.pst file to use them on the new computer.

You may have more than one PST. In most cases, they will be in the default location Outlook uses. In Outlook 2010 (and 2013), the default location for *.pst used for POP3 or for an IMAP accounts calendar and contacts is in My Documents\Outlook Files.

When the pst files are in the default location for Outlook 2007 and older (in C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook), you can quickly access the default PST location from Windows Explorer by pasting this line in Windows Explorer's address bar to jump to the folder.

%localappdata%\Microsoft\Outlook

You'll see a list of files in the Outlook folder. You need to copy the Outlook Data Files (PST). Note that Outlook needs to be closed to copy a pst that is in the active profile. Outlook can hold PST files open for as long as 30 minutes after you close Outlook; if you receive any errors when copying the PST, wait a few minutes and try again.

You'll copy the PSTs to the new computer. If you have several PSTs in the folder and aren't sure which one is the one with your data, look at the file dates and file sizes. If you have 265KB PST files, they are empty and don't need to be moved.

Show Hidden Files

Show hidden files and folders in Windows 8If you have Windows configured to hide extensions, enable File name extensions on Window Explorer's View ribbon.

Show hidden files and folders in WindowsIn Windows 7, show file name extensions on the Organize, Folder and Search Options, View tab. This makes it easier for you to see the files you are copying.

You can also choose the option to Show hidden files and folders, although its not necessary since we are in the hidden folders.

Get the other Outlook support files

Paste the following line into the address bar to jump to C:\Users\username\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook

%appdata%\Microsoft\Outlook

In this folder you'll have the NK2 (autocomplete nickname file, Outlook 2007), SRS (send and receive settings), XML (navigation pane and account configuration), outlprnt (printer configuration) and OTM (VBA project files).

If you are using macros, you'll need to move the VBA file. If you are using Outlook 2007, you may want to copy the NK2 to the new computer so you have your autocomplete list. The SRS and XML files corrupt easily and I don't recommend moving them.

Support files used by Outlook 2013

Ribbon customizations (.officeUI files) are stored in C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Office (%localappdata%\Microsoft\Office). You can export your customizations from the application or copy the officeUI files from this folder.

Rules are stored in the PST but to be safe, export them to an RWZ file.

Export rules

Also export names on the safe and blocked senders lists. Export all 3 safe/blocked lists (if they contain names).

Export safe and blocked junk mail lists

Step 2: Copy the Files to the New Computer

Install Outlook on the new computer, if you haven't already.

It's not necessary to uninstall Office (or Outlook) from the old computer before installing it on the new computer; uninstalling it will not deactivate the license. Read the EULA to determine if you are in violation of the licensing agreement by leaving it installed.

If you are using Outlook 2003 or 2007, open the AppData Roaming folder using the following command and copy the NK2 file (and SRS and XML, if desired) to the folder. The VBA project goes into this folder also. If the Outlook folder does not exist under Microsoft, create it.

%APPDATA%\Microsoft\Outlook

Put the PST files in My Documents\Outlook Files or in the desired location.

Open the Office folder using the command below and place the ribbon files in it.

%localappdata%\Microsoft\Office

Step 3: Create a Profile

After the PST file is on the local drive, type Mail in the Search field on the Start menu or type Mail on the Start screen. Or go to Control Panel and find Mail then open the Profile dialog.

  1. Click the Show Profiles button.
  2. Click Add to create a new profile.
  3. Enter a descriptive name for your profile.
  4. Enter the name you want to use for your display name, your email address, and your password.

If your mail provider supports Auto Account Setup, Outlook will set your account up for you. (Most large ISPs support support it.)

For a video tutorial showing how to create a new profile, see How to Create a New Profile

If your ISP doesn't support autosetup or if you want to set up an account using other server options, click the Manually configure... checkbox to set up your account yourself.

Choose the account type and click Next. Enter your name, email address and mail server names as well as your password. Most mail servers do not require SPA, so leave it unchecked unless your ISP tells you to use it.

Manually configure accountAfter Outlook sets up the account using autosetup, you can click the Manually configure server settings box to get into More Settings and customize the Outgoing server settings.

Step 4: More Settings

If you clicked Finish and returned to the Profile selection dialog, select your profile and click Properties to get to the More Settings button.

Configure additional server options in the More Settings dialog, including leaving mail on the server (for POP3 accounts) and alternate SMTP ports.

Outlook 2010 users with IMAP accounts can select Sent items and Deleted Items folders. (Outlook 2013 queries the IMAP server for the Sent and Deleted items folders to use, therefore you can't select the Sent and Deleted folders in More Settings.)

General tab Outlook 2013General tab: Enter a Reply to Address, if using an address different from your account address on the first screen. (Most people don't enter a reply address.)

Internet Options Outlook 2013Outgoing Server tab: Configure your outgoing server authentication. Many ISPs now require SMTP authentication. If you aren't sure, check your mail provider's support website.

Advanced tab Outlook 2013Advanced tab: Configure alternate ports (if used) for incoming and going email on this tab and set POP3 accounts to leave mail on the server, if desired.

If you aren't sure if you need to use an Alternate port, check your mail provider's support. Many mail servers use the standard ports but more and more are using alternate ports in an effort to combat spam.

If you use autodiscover to configure the account, the correct ports may be entered for you.

If you aren't sure - ask your mail provider!

Click Ok when you are finished configuring More Settings then click Next to exit the New Profile wizard.

Step 5: Add Your Existing Data File (PST) to the Profile

If you have an Outlook data file (*.PST) you want to use as the default account in your new profile, choose the option to Manually configure account after AutoSetup is finished. Choose to use an existing data file and select the pst file you moved from the other computer.

Select PST file

If you did not select to manually configure the account and returned to the Profile dialog, follow these steps. Do not open Outlook until you change the PST.

  1. Select the newly created profile then click Properties.
  2. Click Data files button to open the Account Settings dialog to the Data files tab.
  3. Click Add then browse to your existing PST file.
  4. If you are asked to select a PST format, choose Outlook Personal File. Click Ok
  5. Select your existing PST file.
  6. You can enter a friendly name or just click Ok to return to the Account Settings dialog.
  7. Click the Set as Default button.
  8. Select the PST Outlook created when it created the profile and click Remove. If you want, click Open folder to find and delete this PST.

Close the dialogs.

Step 6: Finishing Touches

If you are going to use the NK2 from your old computer, use the following command to open the Outlook folder where the NK2 belongs and rename the old one to match the name of your new profile. (If Outlook created a new NK2 already, delete it.)

%APPDATA%\Microsoft\Outlook

Now start Outlook. Check your calendar and contacts folders then open a new message and click the To button. Do you see your Contacts?

Go to Tools, Rules Wizard and check your rules. Import the RWZ file if necessary.

In Tools, Options, Junk email, import the Safe and Blocked lists.

Step 7: Signatures & Stationery

If you are using Signatures, custom Stationery, or want to save your custom dictionary, you'll want to move these files to the new computer. Use the command below to open the folder where the Signature, Stationery, and Proof folders are (on both computers).

Outlook doesn't use the Stationery folder under My Documents, the stationery needs to be in the appdata\roaming path. Create the Stationery folder if it does not exist.

%APPDATA%\Microsoft\

After moving the signatures, you'll need to configure your accounts to use them. This is in File, Options, Mail format tab, Signatures.

Note: For signatures created in older versions of Outlook, select the signature in the signature editor and press Save to convert it to newer HTML code. Repeat for each older signature. This converts the HTML to newer code (using CSS) and prevents inconsistencies which may come up when switching or deleting signatures in a message.

Leave Mail on the server issue

When you use a POP3 account and leave mail on the server, Outlook will always re-download all of the mail. If you use the data file in Outlook 2010 and use it in a new profile, Outlook 2010 and 2013 might not try to download the messages already downloaded, but moving from any other version will result in the messages being downloaded again.

Some email accounts can be configured to only allow new mail or mail that arrived after a certain date to be downloaded. Log into your account online and check your account options to see if you are one of the lucky ones. For most people, the only workaround is to log into the account using the web browser and move the mail to a new folder as Outlook will only download the mail that is in the Inbox.

More Information

Customizations made in File, Options are in the registry under the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office key. In most cases, I do not recommend exporting this key. Most settings will be lost if you are upgrading to a new version of Outlook.

Windows Messaging Backup and Dual-Boot
Outlook 2007 Backup and File Locations
Outlook 2010 Backup and File Locations

How to move the IMAP personal folder (*.pst)
To move a Personal Folders .pst file
Where Are My Files? (Outlook-tips.net)

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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