Moving Outlook to a New Computer

Last reviewed on December 30, 2013

A user had this to say about moving Outlook to a new computer:

Still trying to move Outlook 2003 settings on a WinXP machine to Outlook 2007 on a new Win 7 machine. Research suggests that this is an easy, straightforward process – just find and move the PST file, and you’re done. Really, its way more complicated than that, unless you already know how to do it, which I don’t.

This page is for those users who don’t know “how to do it.” I’m going to base these instructions on the scenario above – moving from Outlook 2003 on WindowsXP to Outlook 2007 on Windows 7. Moving from Windows 7 to Windows 7 or 8? I have an updated instructions at Moving Outlook 2010 to a new Windows computer, with screenshots from Outlook 2010 and 2013.

The steps to move other versions of Outlook are similar but dialogs may be different.

Step 1: Get Files from Old Computer
Step 2: Put Files on New Computer
Step 3: Create a Profile
Step 4: More Settings
Step 5: Add Old Data File (*.PST)
Step 6: Finishing Touches
Step 7: Signatures & Stationery (and custom dictionary)

Do you leave mail on the server? See this section

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 (usually) easily rebuilt.

If you use Windows Easy Transfer to move your Outlook data, you will need to recreate your Outlook profile as the move process corrupts the profile.

You will 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 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: Collect Files from the Old Computer

You need the PST from the old computer. This contains your email, calendar, and contacts. You may have more than one PST. In most cases, they will be in the default location Outlook uses. You can go to Outlook’s File, Data File Management command to see the data paths. Select one then click Open Folder to open Windows Explorer to the PST location.

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

To quickly access the default PST location outside of Outlook, paste this line in Windows Explorer’s address bar.

%USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook

You’ll see a list of files in the Outlook folder- you need to copy the Outlook Data Files (PST). Outlook needs to be closed to copy the PST. Outlook can hold PST files open for as long as 30 minutes after you close Outlook, so if you receive any errors when copying the PST, wait and try again.

Files you'll want to move to new computer

The screenshot is from a computer with Outlook 2007 installed – the obi file is used for RSS feeds. If you are using Outlook 2007 on the old computer, it does not need to be moved.

Show hidden files and extensions in Windows

If you have Windows configured to hide extensions, look for the Outlook Data Files or enable ‘show extensions’ in Window Explorer’s Tools, Folder 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.

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.

Next, get the other support files.

Paste the following line into the address bar.

%USERPROFILE%\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook

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

If you are using macros, you’ll need to move the VBA file and many users like to copy the NK2 so they have their autocomplete list. The SRS and XML files corrupt easily and I don’t recommend moving them.

Support files you might want to move

Outlook 2003 uses outcmd.dat. This contains your toolbar customizations and it does not need to be moved to the new computer.

Rules are stored in the PST but to be safe, export them to an RWZ file. Also export names on the safe and blocked senders lists. Export all 3 safe/blocked lists (if they contain names).

Export rules 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.

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

My recommendation for PST files: Make a folder called Outlook in your My Documents or directly under your User account folder (C:\Users\username), where My Pictures, My Documents, Downloads, Music etc are located, for your PST files. It’s easier to find and backup your PST files when they are easy to find. (Outlook 2010 will use a folder under My Documents, so you might as well get used to it now.)

If you really want to use Outlook’s default location, click on AppData in the address bar then browse to Local – Microsoft – Outlook and put the PST file(s) into the folder.

Step 3: Create a Profile

After the PST file is on the local drive, type Mail in the Start search field on the Start menu or go to Control Panel, Mail then open the profile dialog. (If you use the Category view, Mail is under the Users group; in Win7 64-bit, Mail is under 32-bit applications.)

  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 autodiscover, Outlook will set your account up for you. (Most large ISPs support autodiscover.)

If your ISP doesn’t support autodiscover or 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.

After Outlook sets up the account using autodiscover, you can click the Manually configure server settings box to get into More Settings.

Video Tutorial covering Steps 3 – 5

Step 4: More Settings

If you are back at 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 and alternate SMTP ports.

Configure Authentication SettingsGeneral 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.)

Outgoing 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.

Connection tab: Configure specific Internet connection properties, if needed. (Most people will use the defaults.)

Advanced Server settingsAdvanced 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 with your new profile, follow these steps immediately. 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 the PST is a native Outlook 2003/2007 file type, choose the top entry for Outlook Personal File. (It is highly recommended that you use Outlook 2003/2007 PST format for your default PST). 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 Tools, 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 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 Tools, 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)
Making a new Outlook 2007 profile (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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