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Locating Outlook Express e-Mail Files and Folders

written by: John Garger•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 7/13/2010

Moving Outlook Express e-mail files requires some digging into your hard drive’s file structure. Once found, moving the e-mails to a new computer is easy. Learn how to export and then import you outlook express e-mail messages to another computer.

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    With Windows Vista not doing well in the market, Windows XP remains the most popular operating system in the world. Consequently, Microsoft’s Outlook Express program remains the most popular e-mail program for home users. Although easy to use, moving Outlook Express e-mails from one computer to another can be difficult because the files are stored in a strange location that is hard to find.

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    Locating Your Outlook Express E-mail Files

    To find your Outlook Express e-mail files, you must first make hidden files visible to you. Typically, only an administrator can make hidden files accessible so check with your administrator if you do not have the rights to view hidden files. To show hidden files, open any Windows Explorer window and click on:

    Tools>Folder Options>View>Show Hidden Files and Folders

    Now click on My Computer and open up the hard drive where you e-mail files are stored. For most people this is the C drive or whichever drive contains the Windows XP operating system. Then, go to the following folder:

    x:\Documents and Settings\<Username>\Application Data\Identities\<GUID Identifier>\Outlook Express

    where “x" is the drive where your e-mail files are stored, <Username> is the your user name when you logged into Windows XP, and <GUID Identifier> is a long string of seemingly random numbers. For example, here is a sample path to Outlook Express files:

    c:\Documents and Settings\Bob Jones\Application Data\Identities\{9BU76GT8-1455-6788-5655-6676-GH67G8F8JK876}\Outlook Express

    Of course, everyone’s path is different depending on username and the unique GUID Identifier.

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    Copying Your Outlook Express E-mail Files

    You will need all of the files in the folder described above to copy your e-mails to your new computer. You may recognize some of the names of the files; they are the same as the folders you created and use in Outlook Express. Some you may not recognize but you will need them all anyway. If multiple people use the computer, be sure to grab everyone’s e-mails. Just be sure to put each person’s files into a different folder on your backup media otherwise you will mix up everyone’s e-mails when you install them on your new computer.

    To transport your Outlook Express e-mail files to another computer, you will need to make a copy of them and place them on some removable media. Any removable media will do such as a CD, DVD, external hard drive, or USB flash drive. Remember, though, that external hard drives and USB flash drives are vulnerable to static electricity and other environmental hazards. If your e-mails are very important, you should consider backing them up several times or back them up to a more stable medium such as CD or DVD.

    Once you have copied your e-mail files, you can import them into Outlook Express on your new computer.

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    Importing E-mail Files into Outlook Express

    Luckily, Outlook Express includes a function for importing backed-up e-mail files from another computer. To import your e-mail files into your new computer, open Outlook Express and click on:

    File>Import>Messages>Outlook Express 6

    Then click on <Next> and check the button next to “Import Mail from an OE6 Storage Directory." Click on the “Browse" button and point to the location where you have your Outlook Express e-mail files (your CD, DVD, external drive, or USB flash drive). Now when you open Outlook Express you should see your e-mails and folders just as you had them on your old computer.

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    Conclusion

    Outlook Express includes a handy function for importing e-mail messages from other Outlook Express storage files. However, finding your Outlook Express e-mail files can be difficult if you are not able to see hidden files and you do not understand the complicated folder structure where the files are stored. Once found, you need only make a backup of the e-mail files and import them into Outlook Express using the Import function.