Personal folders are files that you create on your hard drive to store email messages. Personal folders have a .pst extension, and are often called .pst files. You can find out if you have a personal folder by looking at your folder list in Outlook. Personal folders are often named Archive or Personal folder. Personal folders do not always show up in Outlook, so it is also a good idea to search your computer for personal folders.

Default location for a personal folder

By default, Outlook saves .pst files in a hidden location on your computer. The default location is:

C:\Documents and Settings\User Name\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook,

where User Name is the user name you log on to your computer with. To go to this location, you will need to first turn on your hidden files and folders. See instructions below.

Find where a personal folder is saved

Unless you designated to save your personal folder in a specific location it is probably saved in Outlook's default location. Follow the instructions below to find out where your personal folder is saved:

  1. Open Outlook.
  2. Right click on the personal folder in your folder list.
  3. Select Properties.
  4. Click the Advanced button.
  5. Look in the File name field to find out where your file is saved. You may want to write down the path.

Search for personal folders

You may have Outlook Personal Folders (.pst files) saved on your computer and not realize it. Even if the file does not show up in Outlook, it could still hold some of your old email. You can search your computer for personal folders.

Turn on Hidden Files and Folders

Before you can search for a .pst file, you will need to make your hidden files and folders visible. Personal Folders are often saved in a hidden folder.

  1. Open My Computer
  2. Go to Tools > Folder Options.
  3. Click on the View tab.
  4. In the Advanced Settings box, select View hidden files and folders.
  5. Click OK.

After you have turned on your hidden files and folders, you can search your computer for any .pst files.

  1. Go to the Start menu and select Search.
  2. If the window says Windows Desktop Search across the top, then click on the Click here to use Search Companion link at the bottom of the left column.
  3. In the What do you want to search for? section, click on the All files and folders link.
  4. In the All or part of the file name box, type *.pst.
  5. Click the More advanced options link.
  6. Check the Search hidden files and folders box.
  7. Click Search.

Move your Outlook Personal Folder

If your personal folder is in the default location, then you should consider moving it. The default location makes it difficult to back up your personal folder, so it is a good idea to store it in your My Documents folder, or another easy to access location. Moving your personal folder is a multi-step process.

Close your Personal Folder in Outlook

  1. Open Outlook
  2. In the column on the left, right click on your personal folder.
  3. From the right click menu, select Close "name of your personal folder".
  4. Close Outlook.

Move your Personal Folder

  1. Navigate to your personal folder.
  2. Right click on your personal folder and select Copy (or press Ctrl+C on your keyboard).
  3. Navigate to the location where you would like to store your personal folder.
  4. Right click in the location and select Paste (or press Ctrl+V on your keyboard).

Note: Sometimes cutting and pasting this file works, and sometimes it does not. After you have pasted the file into the new location you can delete the old file from the old location. It is a good idea to open the personal folder (the one in the new location) in Outlook before you delete the copy in the old location. Close Outlook before you delete the copy in the old location.

Open your Personal Folder in Outlook

  1. Open Outlook
  2. Go to File > Open > Outlook Data File.
  3. Navigate to the new location of your personal folder.
  4. Select your personal folder and click Open.

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