Last reviewed on May 16, 2015   —  9 Comments

You can’t rename or move a Personal Folders .pst file while Microsoft Outlook is running or through the properties for the PST file in either Tools | Services or Outlook Today.

If you are using Outlook 2003, 2007 or 2010, we recommend going into Control Panel, Mail and pointing Outlook to the moved pst instead of waiting for Outlook to prompt you to locate the moved pst. See New Method for details.

New Method (Recommended)

This method can be used for POP3 or IMAP accounts, as well as SharePoint and Subscribed Calendar data files.

First, close Outlook then make sure Outlook is not listed in Task Manager, Processes tab a few minutes after you close it.

  1. Open the profile (Control panel, search for Mail) and click on Data files.
  2. Select the account and click Open File Location to open the folder containing the PST in Windows Explorer.
  3. Click Open File Location

  4. Close the Account Settings dialog
  5. Move the PST to the desired location. The PST files used by POP3 accounts can be renamed. (Default name for pst files Outlook creates for email accounts is email@address.pst)
  6. Reopen the Data Files window and double click on the account’s data file.
  7. Now you’ll get a ‘can’t find data file’ error message, like this: The file C:\Users\username\Documents\Outlook Files\ – (POP3).pst cannot be found. After you click Ok, you can show Outlook where to find it.
  8. Data File Can't be found error

  9. Close the dialogs and you are ready to restart outlook.

A video tutorial is available at How to move the IMAP personal folder (*.pst)

If you have multiple Outlook profiles, you’ll need to select the correct profile. Open the Mail dialog in Control panel, click Profiles and double click on the desired Profile, then click Data Files. Continue with Step 2 above.

Old Method

Find the current location of the PST by looking at the properties for Personal Folders in Tools | Services or for, Outlook 98/2000 in Internet Mail Only mode, in the properties for Outlook Today. Then, follow these steps:

  1. Use File | Exit (Exit and Log Off in Outlook 98/2000 in Corporate/Workgroup mode) to quit Outlook.
  2. Move the file to the new location. (You can also use this technique to rename the file.)
  3. Restart Outlook. When you’re prompted for the location of the now-missing PST file, point to the file in its new location.

If you are moving a .pst file to a different machine that is running Outlook, see:

Note: this method only works with POP3 or standalone PST files. See How to move the IMAP personal folder (*.pst) if you need to move an IMAP or SharePoint PST files. Files used by the Outlook Connector cannot be moved using these methods.

Notes | More Information

Outlook Connector files

Outlook Hotmail Connector creates a pst, ost, or nst file in %localappdata%\microsoft\outlook folder and you can’t move it using normal methods. It is possible to repoint the folder or file using symbolic links or junction points. You could also use a registry hack to move the user profile folder (this will affect all files in the user profile).

For more information, see Symbolic Links (MSDN), Junction Points (MSDN), and How to Move Shell Folders (and contents).


If you try to locate a PST file with Start | Find on a Windows system, you need to be aware that Windows treats PST files as hidden files. In Windows Explorer, use Tools | Folder Options | View to make sure that hidden files are shown.

Moving the file may cause both Outlook Bar shortcuts to be regenerated. You should also check your Rules Wizard rules to make sure they’re still moving data into the right folders.


  1. Gary Reese says

    do not use any of these methods. I am a senior windows administrator. Leave your file where it is if you have configured Gmail or another web based mail client to download to Outlook. Set it up, it works don't change it. Leave it there, and don't listen to anyone who tells you different.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      It's safe to move pst files. If you move imap files and don't do it correctly, the worst that will happen is outlook creates another copy in the default location.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      What step is missing? Naming the data file is not necessary and won't affect anything, it only makes it easier to identify the data files in your profile.

      You can use the forcepstpath and forceostpath registry keys, but they only work for newly added accounts, they won't move data files that already exist in the profile.

      It's not really something that you'll do a lot, for most people it's a one time thing, which makes a utility less desirable for developers - they want to make something that everyone will need frequently.

  2. Ethel says

    I went through all the procedures and it worked. Inbound service is working properly. But when I tried to send mail problem occurs. There appears to be an error "0x8004010F" saying Outlook data file can not be accessed.

    Please help me. :(

    • Diane Poremsky says

      You'll need to create a new profile if the correct data file is listed for 'deliver mail to' at the bottom of the Account Settings dialog when you select the email account.

  3. Rob Vernon says

    Thanks Diane, that was exactly what I needed to move my [large] Outlook Data Files to secondary storage and free-up valuable space on my [small] SSD [C: Drive].

  4. Robert says

    Thanks! Microsoft support sites wer no help is solving this issue. Your method helped me save 4gb on my small boot drive.

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