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Open Outlook Data Files (.pst)

If you have an Outlook Data File (.pst) that doesn’t appear in your Outlook left-nav bar, you can add it so that you can work with the items in the data file.

For example, if you archive your email, an issue might arise and you want to open an archive.pst file and then selectively choose certain emails or contacts to retrieve so you can address the issue. When you're done, you can close the .pst file again.

If you're moving your email from one computer to another, we recommend importing your .pst file so you'll have all of your old emails, contacts, and calendar handy.

Note: You can open and close .pst files in Outlook 2010, 2013, 2016. It doesn't work on or, or other versions of Outlook.

  1. Choose the File tab.

    This is what the ribbon looks like in Outlook 2016.

  2. Choose Open and Export, and then click Open Outlook Data File.

    Open an Outlook data file

  3. Browse to the Outlook Data File you want to open, and then click Open.

  4. The PST file appears in the left-nav bar in Outlook.

    If the .pst file was stored somewhere besides the default Outlook folder, when you open it, in the left-nav bar it will be named outlook data file (it doesn't have the same name of as the file you clicked, but it's the same file). If you have a lot of folders in your left-nav bar, you'll need to scroll down to see it.

    Outlook Data File

  5. To see the contents of the outlook data file, choose the arrow next to the file to open it.

    To open the outlook data file, choose the arrow next to the it.

  6. You can drag and drop specific emails or groups of email from the outlook data file into another email account in Outlook, the same way you would drag and drop files in File Explorer or Windows Explorer.

    For example, in the following picture, the billing email is in the outlook data file. I can drag and drop it to the email account.

    You can move emails from your outlook data file to your email account.

Notes: These are the locations where the PST files are stored by default:

  • Outlook Data File (.pst) created in Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2016, are in Documents\Outlook Files folder.

  • Outlook Data File (.pst) created in Outlook 2007 and earlier, are in drive:\Users\user\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook.

Remove or "Close" an Outlook Data File

To remove an Outlook data file from your left-nav bar, right-click outlook data file and then choose Close "Outlook Data File." The file will still be on your computer, but it will no longer appear in your Outlook left-nav bar.

See Also

Import email, contacts, and calendar from an Outlook .pst file

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