Last reviewed on January 26, 2014   —  3 Comments

When you use File | Save As to save an item or attachment as a file or use Insert | File to attach a file to an item, Outlook starts in whatever folder has been designated the default documents folder on your computer. The default is the My Documents folder. You can change the location with one of the utilities listed below or by editing the Windows Registry entries manually. Note that this change affects all Windows programs that use the default documents folder, not just Outlook.

However, according to OL2002 Attachments Always Go to My Documents Folder Despite Change in Default Save Location, Outlook 2002 ignores the registry change.

Note that when you select a folder and save or attach a file, Outlook keeps a lock on the folder. This is only a problem if you need to rename, move or delete the folder.

Registry | Notes | More Information


If you prefer the do-it-yourself approach, make a backup of the Registry (always take precautions when working with the Registry. Look for these values in the Windows Registry and change the data entry for each one to the folder you want to use:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Shell Folders\Personal
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\User Shell Folders\Personal


In Outlook 97, Outlook 98 and the original release of Outlook 2000, when you open an attached file by double-clicking it, the attachment is copied to your Temp folder, and then that file is opened. There is no way to use a different folder except by changing the location of the temporary folder for all of Windows (which is another thing you can change with TweakUI).

Starting with Office Service Release 1/1a, Outlook uses a different behavior, storing the temporary file in a different folder, either a subfolder of the Temp folder generated with a random name or one set via a registry entry. See:


  1. Snyder says

    I have Ms Outlook 2010. I switched e-mail providers and discontinued my account with AOL. This account is no longer active. However, I set the new account with Gmail as the default, but cannot delete the old AOL folder. It still processes my mail, though it does go to the appropriate inboxes. How can I completely delete the old e-mail from MS Outlook?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      I'm assuming the gmail is being delivered to it's own folder...

      Did you remove the aol account from File > Account Settings? Is the data file listed on the data file tab? if so, delete it.

      You can also do this from control panel, mail (use search to find it if you don't see it)

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