Unlike many other email programs, Outlook places all of your information into what it calls a “PST” or Personal STorage (or just “store”) file.
All of your email, contacts, calendar entries, notes, journal, and whatever else that you choose to use Outlook for are stored in PST files.
It can often be important to know where the PST file is kept, perhaps for recovery purposes, but more often for backup.
It’s not always easy to find the PST file, so I’ll show you three separate ways to locate Outlook’s PST file.
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Transcript and higher resolution version provided near the end of the article.
Using Outlook 2010
In Outlook, on the left-hand side, the default view includes a list of accounts and folders.
Right-click the top-level item: “email@example.com” in the example below:
Then click Open File Location. The result will be Windows Explorer opened to the folder containing the PST file:
As you can see in this example, the PST is located in c:\Users\LeoN\My Documents\Outlook Files\firstname.lastname@example.org
Using Windows Search
Click the Start menu to expose the Search box:
Type *.pst into the search box:
As you can see, even before pressing Return, Windows Search lists the .pst files found on the machine.
Right-click the file and click Open file location:
The result is, once again, Windows Explorer opened on the folder containing the .pst file.
Using Command Prompt
Start the Windows Command prompt by clicking the Start button,
All Programs, Accessories, and then
right-clicking Command Prompt and clicking
Run as administrator:
In Command Prompt, type:
followed by Enter to change the current directory to the root of the drive, and then type in
Again, followed by Enter, to search the entire drive for all .pst files.
As you can see, the PST is located once again in the same folder as before.
Video Transcript & HD
Hi everyone, I’m Leo Notenboom for Ask Leo!. I’m going to show you three different ways to find Outlook’s .pst files.
We’ll start with Outlook itself. This is a relatively fresh install of Outlook 2010. Off to the left, you’ll find a list of accounts and the folders associated with those accounts. You can right-click on the account name and open file location. There you will find Windows Explorer opened on the folder that contains your .pst file. In previous versions of Outlook, there may be different labels associated here but simply right-click on the top-level item to get either the File Properties or if it’s available, Open File Location.
But let’s say that the Outlook is too complex or we’re not looking at the version that you are. Instead, let’s use Windows own Search. What we’re going to do is search for *.pst and sure enough, the very first thing that it comes up with is our .pst file. We can right-click on that and open file location and once again, we’re actually in the folder, looking at the pst file.
Now, there’s a third option for folks who like to use the command line. What we have to do, however, is go to All Programs; Accessories; right-click on Command Prompt and make sure to run it as Administrator. Once we get there, type in cd, space, backslash, Enter, which moves the current directory or current folder to the root of the drive. Do a dir for a directory listing; slash s to search all sub directories; star dot pst to locate all .pst files; enter and Windows goes off and searches. You can see that we’ve immediately found the .pst file that we located earlier. Had there been more than one .pst file on this machine, this command would have located it.
That’s it! Three different ways to find your .pst files. I’m Leo Notenboom for Ask Leo!.