Video: Create and use Personal Folders (Outlook Data Files)

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If you like to use folder for managing your email, then you should know about Personal Folders. To create one, you start with an Outlook Data File.

Create an Outlook Data File (.pst) to save your information

When you run Outlook for the first time, the necessary data files are created automatically.

Sometimes additional data files are needed. For example, older messages and items that you don’t use regularly can be archived to an Outlook Data File (.pst). Or, if your online mailbox is near your storage quota, you could move some items at an Outlook Data File(.pst).

  1. Click HOME.

  2. In the New group, click New Items, point to More Items, and then click Outlook Data File.

  3. In the Create or Open Outlook Data File dialog box, in the File name box, type the name as you want it to appear in the Outlook folder pane, and then click OK.

  4. By default, data files are not password-protected. To add a password to your data file, under Password, type that password that you want to use in the Password and Verify Password text boxes.

    If you set a password, you must enter it every time the data file is opened. For example, when Outlook starts or when you open the data file in Outlook.

    Important:  Microsoft, your Internet service provider (ISP), or your email administrator neither have access to your password, nor can they assist you with recovering the contents of the Outlook Data File(.pst) if you forget the password.

If you access your email account from multiple computers or devices, it is important to know that when messages are moved to an Outlook Data File(.pst), they are available only on the computer where the file is saved.

If you like to use folders for managing your email, then you should know about personal folders. Regular folders and personal folders work about the same. It is what goes on behind-the-scenes that makes them different. To create one, you start with an Outlook Data File. On the HOME tab, click New Items, More Items, and Outlook Data File.

Choose where you want to save the file, type a name for it, and then click OK.

The Outlook Data File is added to the folder list as a personal folder.

Now, we can add regular folders to it to organize our content.

Right-click the personal folder, then click New Folder and type a name for it.

And we'll add a few more.

You can move content to a folder by dragging and dropping items from the e-mail list.

To copy items, hold down the Ctrl key and then drag and drop.

The personal folder looks and works like the folders in your email account, but here is the big difference. Content in your personal folders resides in Outlook Data Files on your computer, and content in your email account folders resides on an e-mail server that you access over the Internet. If you save an Outlook Item on your email server, you can access it from other computers, email programs, and devices, like smartphones.

If you save it to an Outlook Data File, you only have access to it on the computer in which you saved the data file, but you can work with the data just like any other file on your computer.

Let's say we finish a project that has a lot of e-mails associated with it. We can free up the space on the e-mail server by moving it to a personal folder that we created for the project. Next, we can customize the options for the folder. Right-click the personal folder, click Data File Properties, and then click Advanced.

Here, we can change the name that appears in the folder list, or click here to password-protect the data.

If your folder contains a lot of files and attachments, you can click here to compress the file to a smaller size.

Also, note the path and file name. You can use this information to locate the file, if you want to move or copy it.

Click OK and OK.

So, with your email and other mail content available in a file on your computer, you can do things like send copies of it to others on your work team, or use it when you change e-mail accounts.

More about that in Movie 3: Move email to a different account. But before we do, let's look at another use for personal folders and Outlook Data Files archiving.

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