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Can I save the Sent Items folder to CD in Outlook Express?

In Outlook Express, can the “Sent Items” folder be saved to CD in
one step and not message by message?

It depends on what you want to do. Depending on that the answer is
either yes, or not really.

Regardless, I have to honestly say that this is one of those cases
where I wish you weren’t using Outlook Express.

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If you’re simply trying to backup your sent mail, I would do the
following:

  • Locate your Outlook Express Data Store folder: click on the
    Tools menu, Options item,
    Maintenance tab and then the Store
    Folder
    button. That will tell you the folder on your hard
    drive that contains your email folder.

  • Backup the entire contents of that folder.

It’s tempting to back up or save only the “Sent Items.dbx” file you
might find there, and it can be done, but Outlook Express is
notoriously fragile when it comes to its files. There are
interrelationships that often confuse things if not set up just so on
restoration.

“… it can be done, but it’s complex, error
prone, and quite possibly not at all what you’re looking for.”

Speaking of restoration – the only way to reliably view the
contents of what you just backed up will be to replace it in to the
same place. This is obviously very risky since that means you’d be
restoring on top of whatever files had been updated since you took that
initial backup. You’d want to do this very carefully to avoid data
loss.

Finally, it’s also very tempting to just look at the “Sent
Items.dbx” folder in notepad. Sadly, it’s not a text file, and much of
what you see will be incomprehensible.

So it can be done, but it’s complex, error prone, and quite possibly
not at all what you’re looking for.

The ideal solution, of course, would be to select multiple messages
in your Sent Items folder and hit Save As…. Sadly,
Outlook Express does not enable Save As… when you
have more than one message selected, and I know of no other way to
actually accomplish this with OE.

Windows Mail (Outlook Express’s replacement in Windows Vista) also
seems to suffer from these same limitations.

So what can you do?

I have to say that Outlook Express’s folder structure and the
fragility I see when people try to move, import or export to and from
Outlook Express is perhaps the biggest reason I’d personally never use
it again.

I realize that it’s overkill for just this one issue, but if you
really want to solve this problem, I’d switch to a different email
program.

In order of things I’d suggest:

  • Thunderbird stores email as plain text files. If you want to save
    off your sent mail, just copy the text file that is the Send Mail
    folder, and you’re done. You can even open it in notepad to view your
    email in plain text, or copy it back into your Thunderbird data store
    folder with a different name to view it within Thunderbird.

  • Windows Live Mail,
    Microsoft’s other Outlook Express replacement, uses a different storage
    format. It’s still convoluted, but instead of a single file containing
    all messages in a folder, Windows Live Mail stores each folder as an
    actual filesystem folder, and each message is kept as a “.eml” file,
    also in plain text. Copy the folder contents, and you have what you’re
    asking for.

  • Microsoft Outlook supports Save As… when multiple
    messages are selected. The last time I checked, the order that messages were
    written to in the resulting file appeared random. Other than that it’s
    pretty much exactly what I suspect you’re looking for.

I’m sorry the news isn’t better. It’s possible that there are some
add-ons or utilities for Outlook Express that I expect others may post
about in the comments, but in all honesty for this and several other
reasons, I’d be really tempted to switch programs.

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8 comments on “Can I save the Sent Items folder to CD in Outlook Express?”

  1. I discovered a way to do what the person wanted somewhat easily in OE. Multiple select the messages, and then drag them to a folder in Windows Explorer (CD or otherwise). They are put there as .eml files (text files). I don’t know if Windows Mail does this. I just tried it on OE 6.00. Save As was disabled, but drag and drop still worked – strange…

    Reply
  2. Select all messages you want to backup. Select “Forward”, “File”, “Save”. Give a name to the eml file. That’s all! Do you want to restore? Open OE. Create a folder. Drag and drop the backup file (eml) to this folder. So easy!

    Reply
  3. Tried both methods and they work like a charm, although I think the second method may have some restriction on the number of messages you can select at once. Thanks for the tips!

    Reply
  4. In Outlook, wouldnt you be able to just backup your personal .pst (or use the File>Export option to export data)? To access the saved files you would just add the PST to outlook again via data file management and view messages… no?

    Reply
  5. Dragging and dropping to a folder on your harddrive or a CD works with Windows Mail (Vista’s version of Outlook Express). I have been saving my email this way for a couple years.

    Reply
  6. I certainly find it hard to believe that Leo doesn’t know of this simple technique. I’ve used it for years. Word opens up the.eml files easily.

    Why does he try to speak with such authority, when he doesn’t know what he is talking about. It is beyond me. Outlook Express is still a fine email client.

    Packrat1947

    Reply

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