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How do I move my Microsoft Outlook mail and address book from one computer to another?

Question: How do I move my Microsoft Office Outlook mail & address book from one computer to another?

I’ve done this countless times back when I was using Microsoft Outlook.

My approach turns out to be extremely easy, though the steps may not be quite as obvious as you might hope.

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This technique assumes you have two machines. One I’ll call it the “old” machine, that has Microsoft Outlook up and running and on which you currently receive email. The other that you’re setting up I’ll call the “new” machine. Your plan is to move your email and your email access from your old machine to your new one.

Almost everything you need to copy is in a single file, your “PST” or “Personal Store”.

Step 1: Install Outlook on your new machine. Set it up as completely as you can, including email account definitions, but don’t download any email. Not yet.

Step 2: Determine the location of the new PST file on the new machine. Where is my Outlook “PST” file located? will show you how.

Step 3: Determine the location of the old PST on the old machine. This is the PST file that contains all of your current email, contacts, and calendar.

Step 4: Save your rules to a file if you use Inbox Rules.

Step 5: Shut down Outlook on both old and new machines.

Step 6: Copy the old PST from the old machine to the new, replacing the new PST on the new machine. If required, rename the PST in the process to match the name of the PST on the new machine. (Typically copying is done via a network connection, but burning your PST to a CD or DVD is also quite common and a good way to create a backup of the file at the same time. Be sure to reset the read-only attribute when you copy the file to your new machine.) Also copy the file containing your Inbox Rules if you created one earlier.

Step 7: Fire up Outlook on your new machine. It should come up with your email, contacts, and calendar, all transferred from the old one.

Step 8: Finish configuring Outlook on the new machine. Particularly if you have Inbox Rules, this would be the time to import them and make sure they’re working properly.

Step 9: Never use the Outlook on the old machine again. Doing so might cause some email to be downloaded into that old PST and if you’re using your new machine to download email that’s not where you want it. There’s no simple way to transfer just “some” of the email from one machine to another. It’s possible, but the steps are definitely more involved.

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42 comments on “How do I move my Microsoft Outlook mail and address book from one computer to another?”

  1. And how do I move my outlook 2003 pst files to my macbook’s mail program without losing the folder structure, attachments, etc.
    I tried many options I found online, but none work well…

    Hash: SHA1

    I’m not aware of any solution. Sorry.


    Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)


  3. After reading all of the Microsoft Outlook articles, there is still one task I would like to do and I cannot find any reference to it: My wife and I have separate computers with “almost identical” contact lists. She would like me to make them absolutely identical. Is there any way to synchronize our contact lists so that I only have to maintain one list (I sometimes forget to update both). Thanks for the help.

    Hash: SHA1

    I’m not aware of any way to do that in an automated fashion.



    Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)


  5. When you copy the .pst file to tne new computer it sounds like the contacts and calendar, etc all come over. Is there any way to copy only the email? I have already cleaned up the contacts and calendar on the new computer and just need the email. Thanks

  6. How do you create a brand new default PST File
    I have a corruped PST file. It opens and I can send mail, but it crashes every once in a while.
    I cannot back it up unless I am in safe mode (it will not let me change it as my default mail…)
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    For Richard Phariss question regarding address book sync…. Yahoo Sync has a great option to keep address books updated. It works great. I have my work pc and home pc always synced, with all the address. change anyone computer and it syncs. then i use Yahoo go on my BB and have the into there also. always up to date.

  7. we have several computers with the same email address and of course, the “Leave a copy of messages on the server” is checked.The main computer is set to have them removed from the server after 10 days. I am trying to move all of my email from one computer to another. i have set up the new computer with the same address and it has already downloaded the email that the server was holding. Should i delete all of the email from the new computer before i transfer the mail from the old one? Is there a setting that i should be aware of before I transfer so that it does not reload and duplicate the newly transferred mail? i would like to use the “old” machine again for email and using the same email address, is it possible?

    thank you for your time…

  8. Leo – your instructions are very helpful… but I still can’t access some of my email. Here’s my situation:

    I had to temporarily set up my email account on a second PC. When I did so, all of the messages in my Inbox moved over to the second PC. Now that I’ve got Outlook up and running again on my original PC, I’d like to move the original Inbox messages back to the original PC.

    I’ve created a .pst (off of the 2nd PC) and saved it in the same folder as my other .pst on the original PC. How do I get Outlook to reflect the files in that .pst? Note that because this email account is enabled on both PCs, I’m currently receiving messages on both, but I can’t get the old messages (from my Inbox) to move back to the original… and until I do, I’m hesitant to remove the account from the second PC.

    Thank you for your help! Your directions on creating and moving psts were great.

  9. I have already used Outlook for a week. How can I move the stuff from my old computer without losing the messages on the new computer?

  10. Leo:

    I was using Outlook 2003 and have upgraded to Office 2007 PRO. I exported my messages and contacts from my personal folders in my OUTLOOK 2003 to a PST file. I deinstalled Outlook 2003 then completed the installation of Office 2007 with Outlook 2007.

    I wanted to create a personal folder in Outlook 2007 – NOT – load all of my personal messages onto my company Exchange server.

    It appears that I did just that.

    So I know I can delete the folders that were imported easily enough, but before doing so I want to import the old Outlook2003.PST into Outlook Express but can’t seem to find an option in the IMPORT utility to allow me to choose the old PST file I had exported earlier.

    What am I doing wrong?

  11. Thanks Leo. Very informative. However, I want to transfer emails and contacts from my old XP machine running Office Outlook 2003 to my new pc running Vista and want to use Windows Live Mail. How do I do this?

    I don’t know of a path to transfer data from Microsoft Office Outlook to Windows Live Mail. That’s considered a “downgrade”, and I know of no way to do it.

    – Leo
  12. I have been trying for days to move my Microsoft Outlook mail and address book from my old laptop to my new PC which has Vista. I have been successful in moving my contacts and calendar into Microsoft Oulook XP, but I cannot get the email moved. I have tried all the suggestions on this site as well as others.


  13. I have a new Dell with Vista I plan to install microsoft office 2007. My old laptop has XP and office 2003. I have a transfer cable. Should I install office 2007 on both computers then use my transfer cable to move my files?

    The microsoft office 2007 is new and a full version not a update.

    Any help would be great I don’t want to mess this up.

    Thanks Debbie

  14. My boss got us new computers at work. I archived Outlook 2003 into a .pst file. New computer up and running, I loaded the .pst file. All emails are there, but my address book is wiped clean…no address book or any contacts. Is there something I am missing? or another step I missed in saving that info?

    please help !! over 100 business contacts are now not there ! and I can find nothing on the net about what exactly the .pst file will hold.


  15. I copied the Outlook.PST from the old maching to the new maching and all the emails are there, but no addresses.

    It says: The address list could not be displayed. The contcts folder associated with this address list could not be opened; It may have been moved or deleted, or you do not have permission. For information on how to remove this folder fron the Outlook Address Book, see Microsoft Office Outlook Help.

    What do I do now?


  16. I have a similar problem as Dave and Bill. I have copied my .pst files for Outlook 2003 from one XP Home computer to another XP Home computer using Outlook 2003. I can see the email messages but not the address book. What do I need to do to see the address book?

  17. I found the PST on my ‘old’ computer (87.2 MB) with Windows XP but I cannot copy it, neither onto a CD nor a Flashdrive. Also I have not found it on my new PC with Windows Vista Home Premium 64 bit. Any suggestions?

  18. Leo:

    I transferred my .pst file from XP to Vista as instructed above. My Inbox is working fine and all those files transfered fine. However, when I try to click on any of the sub folders I created, or even the “sent items” folder, Outlook says “Loading”, but just sits there. Arrgghh. Any ideas why it won’t open?

  19. I copied my pst file (assuming it is only archive.pst) from Outlook 2003 onto a CD. However, Windows 7, Outlook 2007, will not allow me to copy without Administrator’s rights. I’m stuck. I moved the files onto my desktop but nothing else is happening. Where do I go from here?

  20. I am moving email from my old desktop system (Outlook Express and Windows XP) to my new laptop (Windows 7 and Oulook 2007). How do I go about doing this?

  21. I tried other sites explaining how to transfer the old Outlook emails and contacts to my new PC without joy, the above steps were clear, easy and fully explainative, and the final result was everything is now on my new PC. Many thanks for a easy to read step by step method.

  22. I have read your article but I find that it lacks 2 things: Information on how to transfer autocomplete as some folks use it quite extensive and the other thing is the locations of pst files. I saw that you have an article for this one but it is outdated and it does not contain locations for Windows 7 and Windows Vista. This is what I use to transfer Outlook 2003 or 2007:

  23. After transferring Outllo to the new system – Personal Folders is okay but problems when using To/CC/BCC in mail as can’t get names to come up?

    Also problems transferring Archive Folders onto new computer?

    Please could youa dvise on both?

  24. As for Shahriar – Moved Outlook successfully from one PC to another using instructions above (Outlook 2003 from XP to W7). Everything seemed to transfer ok – mail, contacts all visible – but when composing an email, none of names in contacts come up in the TO: field.

    Is this a permissions issue?

  25. do these instructions hold true for transferring outlook 2007 email on an old laptop to outlook 2010 on a new laptop?

    It should.


  26. I followed the same procedure as mentioned. E-mails gor transferred sucessfully. But now when I stars downloading the emails, all the emails that are already in the pst file are being downloaded again. This way I will have two copies of all emails. Any solution?

    Note: I always leave a copy of email on the server.

    What has or has not been downloaded is kept on the Outlook installation. When you move to a new installation on a new machine that’s lost. I don’t know of a good workaround.


  27. If you only want to move certain folders instead of the whole PST, there’s a plug-in called Pandali Folder Master that has a wizard to help copy those folders to another machine (or Gmail), and allows you to choose multiple folders, unlike with Outlook’s Export feature.

  28. It would be helpful if you explained how to not download email in step one. When I finished setting up Outlook, it automatically started downloading email.

    Thank you for this article. It was some help.

  29. I have a new laptop running Windows 7 and Office 2010 and want to transfer its Outlook address book and mail files to an older computer at home that runs Windows Vista and Office 2007–is there going to be any problem with my older software reading the files created in the newer environment?

    Thanks for any advice before I try the move!

  30. I have followed your steps to move outlook from my old computer to my new computer. At first the old file structure of personal folders appeared in the new computer, but they were empty. after ‘repairing ‘ the .pst file they now contain all the messages correctly. BUT the new computer fails to send or receive. The error message is :- Task ‘sending’ reported error (0X8004010F) Outlook data file cannot be accessed. Same message for ‘receiving’. Queries. The old data file is Outlook 97 -2002, the new Outlook is 2010. Could this be a problem? In the Settings of the data file no password was set. I tried to add the password used in the account settings but it was reported as incorrect. When transferring the .pst file I changed the name to {email removed}.pst as that was the name of the .pst file in the new computer. I had set up the email account on the new computer with this name before transferring the .pst and it sent and received correctly. I would be most grateful for help with this problem.

  31. When you replace your current computer with a new one, you have to transfer your programs and files first.. after which, transfer Outlook email so as to enable access to all the old emails on your new computer..

  32. THANK YOU so much for this info…took me a little bit to find the file on the old computer and 1st try didn’t work but I got it reading more of your notes and I can’t thank you enough for posting!!! I did it and it works!!

  33. Another option that I have used and seems to work quite well is to use the “Export” / “Import File” options available in Outlook.

    Under File / Options / Advanced / Export – select “Export To A File”, then “Outlook Data File (.pst)” then select the highest level folder – possibly “Personal Folders” be sure to check the box “Include Subfolders” this will assure your inbox, calendar, contacts, etc. are included.

    I use a USB drive to save the file and transfer it to the new machine (best to create a new folder on the removable drive and save the pst file to this folder). I found it was better not to set up or configure an account in Outlook on the new computer. Open Outlook and Import the file following the same steps above – File, Options, Advanced, Export, “Import From Another Program or File”, “Outlook Data File (.pst) ……….
    This should import everything from your old computer. This process also worked in 2007, 2003, and I believe 2000 and 97.

    Regarding the question from – Yanesh Tyagi October 10, 2010 – one work around to eliminate duplicate messages downloaded from the server, after the download is complete (thousands of old messages may be interspersed among the messages imported), so create a folder for “Unread Mail” in the “Outlook Search Folders” (Right click Search Folders, select “Unread Mail”, then all of the unread message will be grouped in this folder, first check new messages as read (new messages since the transfer from the old computer) then delete all the remaining messages in the Unread Mail folder, voilà!

  34. “Step 9: Never use the Outlook on the old machine again.”
    If you use that to check email on that old computer using IMAP, the emails will be downloaded to both computers when you run Outlook. It’s similar when sending emails. The problem is with contacts. Contacts added to one won’t be added to the other.


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