Import PST to Outlook: step-by-step tutorial

To import a PST file to Outlook, you have two options: Use the ‘Open Outlook Data File’ or the ‘Import/Export’ options in the Outlook ‘File’ > ‘Open and Export’ menu. With the first option you import the complete PST file to Outlook and it will be displayed in the folder bar as ‘Outlook Data File’. The second option launches the Outlook Import/Export Wizard for even more import options, for example, a selection of specific mailbox folders.

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Quick tutorial: Import PST to Outlook

Import PST file directly to Outlook

  1. Select ‘Open Outlook Data File’ in the Outlook ‘File’ menu
  2. Select the folder where the PST file is stored
  3. Select the PST file and click on ‘Open’
  4. The contents of the PST file will be displayed in Outlook on the left side of the folder bar under ‘Outlook Data File’. Right-click on the folder to display various folder options, e.g. ‘Move’ and ‘Copy’.

Import PST file using Import/Export Assistant

  1. Select the ‘Import/Export’ option in the Outlook ‘File’ menu
  2. Select the option ‘Import from another program or file’ in the dialogue window and confirm with ‘Next’
  3. Select the type of file to import: ‘Outlook Data File (.pst)’ and click ‘Next’
  4. Select folder where PST file is stored and, if necessary, set options like ‘Replace duplicates ...’ and click ‘Next’
  5. Select folders and subfolders to import, if necessary, and click ‘Finish’.

When you may want to import a PST file

Outlook usually automatically creates a so-called PST file with all mails, notes, tasks, and calendar entries. You can then import this ‘Personal Store’, PST for short, as an Outlook archive. In the event of a system crash this is useful to restore data on computers. The PST file is created when you save it on your PC or is stored in a mailbox that is located on the server. The great advantage of this method is that by backing up the data in a PST file, all Outlook data is physically located in one place, so you can access it whenever you need it.

Restore unsynchronised Outlook data

Importing a PST file to Outlook is useful, for example, when you swap your PC but have not synchronised your data via a cloud beforehand. This may be the case if synchronisation was not desired, for example, because of data protection rules in a company. In this case, exporting all Outlook data, transferring it to a storage medium and subsequently importing it to a new system can be the simplest and fastest solution. This way, users ensure that not only a certain type of data is restored on the new computer.

When you import PST files, emails, old and pending calendar entries and tasks will all be integrated, and you will be able to import all existing import Outlook contacts.

Merge Outlook accounts into single view

Some users access multiple accounts in parallel. In this case, it can make sense to merge these accounts into one client for improved organisation. Outlook provides a folder structure for this purpose, which also helps to display several accounts clearly. For this purpose, it makes sense to export an account as an archive, which is then merged with an existing account on the appropriate computer, so that you only have to import the PST file once.

This can become important, for example, if an employee leaves the company and a successor gains access to existing data, for example, because they want to create extensive Outlook distribution lists.

Archiving unused data

Storing all data in a PST directory also serves to store all information from Outlook that is not currently in use as an archive. However, if you simply want to save emails, you can also just archive Outlook mails.

If you prefer to have an overview of all appointments on another computer, it can be sufficient to share the Outlook calendar. This way you can, for example, postpone or reschedule meetings on the go, simply by using your smartphone.


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Import PST file directly as Outlook data file

Outlook offers users a convenient way to integrate archived folders. This way you can easily add PST files and use them as a kind of ‘subfolder’.

Attaching a PST file in your Outlook gives you access to stored data in the form of a separate record in the Outlook profile (see screenshot step 3). The advantage is that the data is not transferred to an existing profile and mixed up with existing mails and calendar entries, but instead appears as a separate part in the overview on the left. If desired, integration into an existing profile – without delimitation – is possible.

Follow the steps below to add PST files to Outlook directly.

  1. Click on ‘File’ in the upper navigation bar and then on ‘Open & Export’ and select the menu item ‘Open Outlook Data File’.
  1. Once you have clicked on the menu item, a window opens from which you can select the file to import. In the example below, the Outlook.pst is located under User > Username > Documents > Outlook Files. Select the file and click ‘Open’.

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  1. Confirm with ‘Open’ and the Outlook data file is now displayed on the left side in the overview page of Outlook.
  1. You can right-click the data file to move or copy it to another profile.

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Import Outlook archive with Outlook Import Assistant

An even more convenient method of importing PST files into Outlook is the Outlook Import Wizard. Using it, you determine whether you want to transfer all or only certain data of a PST file during import.

  1. To import Outlook data, select ‘File’ in the navigation panel and ‘Open & Export’. Click on ‘Import/Export’.
  1. In the next step a selection screen opens, where you select the item ‘Import from another program or file’; confirm by clicking on ‘Next >‘.
  1. Now, select the file type you wish to import. Here, we want to import a PST file. Click the menu item ‘Outlook Data File (.pst)’ and confirm this with ‘Next >‘.
  1. Now open the PST file you wish to import by selecting it from the corresponding directory. You can ‘Browse...’ your computer for the desired file. During this step, you specify whether you want to replace duplicates with the import.

Click ‘Next >‘ to complete this step.

  1. In the final step, you can import certain parts of a directory or subfolders of an Outlook PST file. You can view them by expanding the main Outlook Data File folder as shown in the example. Then click on ‘Finish’ to complete the data import.

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