Understanding an Outlook Profile file (PRF)

Last reviewed on October 23, 2014   —  12 comments

Although Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2010's autodiscover feature makes short work of creating profiles, using a PRF to create profiles is still useful, especially if you use a lot of personal folders (*.pst) or have a large number of POP3 and IMAP accounts and are testing Windows betas.

Most users will be happy just to use a PRF to create and recreate email accounts. You'll need to add the Outlook Address Book service, or remember to remember to add it from Outlook later, otherwise Outlook uses the default services and file locations. If you want your PSTs in different locations, create a PRF.

Sample PRF with PSTs configured This is from an automatically generated PRF file from the Microsoft Office Customization and Installation Wizard (CIW). You can view the contents of this file with Notepad If you accidentally run it and create a profile in Outlook, go to Control Panel, Mail and click the Show Profiles button. Delete My Outlook Profile from the list.

This page explains the sections that you can edit and sections you shouldn't edit are not included. Most of the editable fields are self-explanatory, but I'll explain them anyway.

Sections 2 and 4 deal with the Personal Stores and Address book services.

Section 1 - Profile Defaults

[General]
Custom=1

Value Description
ProfileName=My Outlook Profile This is the name of your profile.
DefaultProfile=Yes Is the profile going to be set as default? Yes or No are valid
OverwriteProfile=Yes Do you want to replace the profile or append the changes to it? Valid entries are Yes, No, and Append. Use Append to update a profile.
ModifyDefaultProfileIfPresent=FALSE Modifies the default profile if one exists, even if the profile name is different from the one in the PRF.
BackupProfile=No Undocumented property to avoid creating backup copies of a profile.
DefaultStore=Service3 Which PST should be the default message store? Use the Service name that corresponds to the PST

Section 2 - Services in Profile

This section is pretty straight forward. You'll have one service entry per personal store or address book in your profile. Outlook 2003's Unicode PST is "Unicode Personal Folders" while the Outlook97/2002 (ANSI) format is just "Personal Folders"

[Service List]
;ServiceX=Microsoft Outlook Client
Service1=Personal Folders
Service2=Unicode Personal Folders
Service3=Unicode Personal Folders
Service4=Outlook Address Book

Section 3 - List of Internet Accounts

Each account in your profile is listed in this section, followed by the account type. If you add more accounts in Section 5, be sure to add the accounts here, incrementing the Account#. If you have 6 email accounts, you'll 6 accounts listed, numbered 1 through 6. The account types (POP3, IMAP, HTTP) can be in any order, the examples on this page came from the sample PRF where they were in POP3 and IMAP. Note that HTTP protocol is not longer supported and this PRF does not contain information for Outlook Hotmail Connector.

[Internet Account List]

Value Description
Account1=I_Mail I_Mail indicates Account1 is a POP3 (Internet) mail
Account2=IMAP_I_Mail IMAP_I_Mail indicates Account2 is a IMAP account

Section 4 - Default Values for each Service

Value Description
[Service1] Service name, corresponds with the services listed in Section 2.
UniqueService=No Are you limited to one of this service type in a profile? Answer No for PSTs.
Name=My Personal Folders Service name. For PST, this is the display name in the profile.
PathToPersonalFolders=%USERPROFILE%\ documents\outlook files\outlook.pst Where is the pst stored and what is the filename? By default, it's in the user profile.
EncryptionType=0x80000000 Encrpytion type:
0x80000000 = No encryption
0x40000000 = Compressible encryption, the default (ANSI) or
0x50000000 (Unicode) See Note below
0x20000000 = High encryption

Outlook Address Book service does not need any parameters, it just needs added to the profile:

[Service4]

Section 5 - Values for each Internet Account

Each account needs to be listed here, using the proper format for the account type. The CIW leaves some fields blank, as shown here, unless you selected More options as you added the profiles. To add new accounts, copy the proper account type and paste it following the last account, changing the account information as needed. Don't forget to change the Account# here and add it to Section 3.

POP3 Account Settings

Value Description
[Account1] Account number. It needs entered here and in Section 3. Use a different number for each account.
UniqueService=No Can you add the account type more than once? Because you can have more than one POP3, IMAP, or HTTP, you'll use No.
AccountName=Outlook Tips POP3 The name displayed in the Accounts dropdown and on the Send/Receive list.
POP3Server=mail.outlook-tips.net POP3 server name
SMTPServer=mail.outlook-tips.net SMTP server name
POP3UserName=outlookt The username you use to log on to your account
EmailAddress=tips@outlook-tips.net Your email address.
POP3UseSPA=0 Do you use SPA? In most cases, the answer is No, or 0. Enter 1 if you do use SPA.
DisplayName=Diane Poremsky Enter the display name to be used when you send messages.
ReplyEMailAddress= If you use a different reply to address, enter it here.
SMTPUseAuth=1 Are you required to authenticate before sending email? 1 = Yes, 0 = No.
SMTPAuthMethod=0 What authentication method do you use?
0= use same as POP3 logon.
1= Use different credentials.
2= POP before SMTP
SMTPUserName=dianep Username to use when you use different credentials to send mail.
ConnectionType=0 How do you connect to the internet?
0 = LAN.
1 = Use IE's dialer
2 = Use Phone line
3 = Use modem if LAN unavailable.
LeaveOnServer=0x0 Leave mail on the server?
0x0 = No.
0x50001 = Yes, days option unchecked, never delete.
0x90003 = Yes, 9 days, don't delete.
0x50007 = Yes, 5 days, Delete from server when emptying Deleted items
ConnectionOID=MyConnection Dial up connection (DUN) to use.
POP3Port=110 The POP3 port. Leave it on the default of 110 unless you are told to change it.
POP3UseSSL=0 Do you use SSL? In most cases, it's No, which is 0.
ServerTimeOut=60 What is your server time out? 60 seconds is default.
SMTPPort=25 SMTP port number. 25 is default but some servers use 2525 or 587. Leave it at 25 unless you need a different port.
SMTPUseSSL=0 Does your SMTP server use SSL? Leave it on 0 (No) unless told otherwise.

IMAP Account

Value Description
[Account2] Account number. It needs entered here and in Section 3
UniqueService=No Can you add the account type more than once? Use No for HTTP, POP#, or IMAP accounts.
AccountName=AOL-IMAP The name displayed in the Accounts dropdown and on the Send/Receive list.
IMAPServer=imap.aol.com IMAP server
SMTPServer=smtp.aol.com SMTP server
IMAPUserName=poremsky Your username, used to logon when you check email.
EmailAddress=poremsky@aol.com Email address
IMAPUseSPA=0 Use SPA? 0 = No, only change it if you do need to use SPA.
DisplayName=Diane Poremsky The display name you want to use when you send messages
ReplyEMailAddress= Reply to email address, if different than your sending email address.
SMTPUseAuth=1 Do you need to authenticate to send email? 1= Yes.
SMTPAuthMethod=0 What authentication method do you use?
0= use same as POP3 logon.
1= Use different credentials.
2= POP before SMTP
SMTPUserName=dianep Username to use when you use different credentials to send mail.
ConnectionType=0 How do you connect to the internet?
0 = LAN.
1 = Use IE's dialer
2= Use Phone line
3 = Use modem if LAN unavailable.
RootFolder= Do you use a root folder? If so, enter the path here.
ConnectionOID=MyConnection Dial up networking connection to use.
IMAPPort=143 The port you use to collect email. Default is 143, don't change it unless told to.
IMAPUseSSL=0 Do you use SSL? 0= No.
ServerTimeOut=60 Server timeout.
SMTPPort=587 The SMTP port to use. Default is 25, change it only if your server uses a different port, as AOL does.
SMTPUseSSL=0 Do you use SSL to send mail? 0=No.

More Information

***Note: The CIW uses the wrong encryption code for Unicode psts and you'll need to change it from 0x40000000 to 0x50000000.

Also see Tips for using Outlook .prf files to configure profiles
Customizing Outlook Profiles by Using PRF Files.
Create an Outlook Profile File (*.PRF) Step-by-step using Outlook 2003's CIW

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 Slipstick.com.

12 responses to “Understanding an Outlook Profile file (PRF)”

  1. Dean

    Is there a setting to uncheck the 'remember password' option for an IMAP account? I am using a PRF file to automate the configuration of a users email account, however, this option is checked by default and so Outlook attempts to connect to the mail server without prompting the user for their password. And because the password field is blank and not yet set, it fails. I would like to turn this option off so the user can enter their password before Outlook tries to connect to the server. Is this something configurable in the PRF file?

    1. Diane Poremsky

      No, its not configurable in the PRF, sorry.

  2. Kevin Dondrea

    If you use a VBScript to Automate the Outlook setup process you should be able to add a Sub for a registry key to turn off the check mark for "Remember Password"

    Add the 'Security" key and "PromptForCredentials" value to the registry with the following command:reg.exe add "HKCU\Software\Policies\MicroSoft\Office\12.0\Outlook\Security" /v PromptForcredentials /t REG_DWORD /d 1 /f

    http://www.itninja.com/question/disable-remember-password-option-in-outlook

  3. Kevin Dondrea

    Thank you Diane, this information is perfect. I had an old copy but it had things they left out.

  4. Ahmed

    can i save the password for POP3 account ,because i have many users in my domain using pop3 accounts and i want to change the password for all pop3 accounts.

    1. Diane Poremsky

      The password can't be saved in the PRF files. Sorry.

  5. Phillip Richardson

    This is great information. Do you know how to remove a PRF off a computer that was deployed during an Office 2013 installation? The PRF was referenced in the MST file created with the Office Customization Tool.

    1. Fab

      it located Under c:\program files (x86)\Microsoft Office\custom14.prf

  6. Ian

    Where are PRF files stored, for Outlook 2010 desktop?

  7. Ian

    Thanks, Diane.
    So, can I use the tool (? is it called OCT) to export a PRF? Or, can I edit the preferences in some way without the tedious changes that are possible within the Outlook desktop interface itself?
    Although I use just Outlook 2010 desktop (not Exchange with numerous accounts), I like to keep 2 or 3 profiles in the applet that launches Outlook (I assume that the Control Panel Mail applet calls the same thing that I see when I don't have a default startup profile). I would like to be able to change these profile preferences - and even rename them - in a fairly simple way.

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