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Open and find items in an Outlook Data File (.pst)

If you use a POP or IMAP account, then all of your Outlook information is stored in an Outlook data file, also known as a Personal Folders File (.pst). You might also use an Outlook data file to backup messages or store older items to keep the size of your mailbox small.

By default, when you use Outlook's search tools, Outlook only searches the current mailbox. Any additional Outlook data files stored on your computer won't be searched unless you change your search scope to All Mailboxes.

You might also have an Outlook data file if you use AutoArchive with your Exchange server email account. This is a different feature than Archive button in Outlook 2016. For more information, see Archive in Outlook 2016. To see what your AutoArchive settings and location are, and for instructions to turn off AutoArchive, see Automatically move or delete older items with AutoArchive.

Search another Outlook data file

Open an Outlook data file

In order for Outlook to search a Personal Folders file for a specific word or phrase or sender, the file must be open in Outlook.

  1. In Outlook on your desktop, choose File > Open & Export > Open Outlook Data File.

  2. Choose the Outlook data file you want to open.

    Choose the file named "archive."

  3. Expand the top level of the Outlook data file in the Outlook Navigation pane to see the subfolders in the file. Click each subfolder to see the contents.

    Expand the archive file in the nav pane to see the subfolders under it.

  4. To search for a specific email, use Outlook's built-in search tools.

  5. If you want to import your archived items back into your Inbox, follow the instructions for importing a .pst file.

Where is my .PST file?

In Outlook 2016 and newer versions, new Outlook data files are, by default, saved in the following locations:

  • Windows 10     drive:\Users\user\Documents\Outlook Files\archive.pst

In earlier versions of Outlook, the archive file is saved in the following locations:

  • Windows 10    drive:\Users\user\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook\archive.pst

Related Topics

Switch to another Outlook e-mail profile
Create a new e-mail profile
Back up, restore, or delete items using AutoArchive
Archive items manually

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