Outlook is part of your daily routine. You use it to send email messages, to set up calendar events, and to create tasks and other items. But do you wonder how and where all those items are stored?
For Microsoft 365, Exchange, and Outlook.com accounts, all of your information is stored on the server, but an offline copy is also stored on your local computer in an Offline Outlook Data File (.ost).
For POP and IMAP accounts, you might store your Outlook items in an Outlook Data File (.pst).
If you want to open or close an Outlook Data File (.pst), you can do that in a few simple steps.
Note: If your organization has policies in place that archive email messages automatically, your older email messages, calendar events, and tasks might be stored in an archive Outlook Data File (.pst).
Even if your account uses an offline Outlook Data File (.ost) for all of its day-to-day information, you may still have an archive.pst file that contains older information.
Newer versionsOffice 2010Office 2007.
Select File > Open & Export > Open Outlook Data File. Note: Depending on how Outlook is set up, it's likely the folder where the .pst file is stored will open automatically. If it doesn't, browse to the file's location. If you're not sure where your Outlook data file is located, see Locating the Outlook data files.
Select the Outlook Data File (.pst), and then select Open. Once you open the Outlook Data File (.pst), the file will appear in your folder pane.
More about Outlook data files
Usually you'll find it at the bottom of the list of folders.
The following image is an example. The name of your Outlook Data File (.pst) will likely not be outlook data file.
Usually, the name is based on the account the file is associated with.
You can remove an Outlook data file from the Folder pane by closing the file.
This does not, however, remove the file from your computer.
In the Folder pane, right-click the name of the Outlook Data File, and then choose Close "Outlook Data File".
What would you like to do? If you have an Outlook Data File (.pst) that doesn't appear in the Navigation Pane, you can add it so that you can work with the items in the data file.
On the File tab, click Account Settings > Account Settings. On the Data Files tab, click Add. Click the Outlook Data File (.pst) file that you want to open, and then click OK.
Outlook Data File (.pst) created by using Outlook 2010 are saved on your computer in the Documents\Outlook Files folder.
If you're using Windows XP, these files are created in the My Documents\Outlook Files folder.
Files created in previous versions of Outlook are saved in a different location in a hidden folder. Windows 7 and Windows Vista drive:\Users\user\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook. Windows XP drive:\Documents and Settings\user\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook. Tip: For information about hidden folders in Windows, see Windows Help and Support.
The file name that you specify for an Outlook Data File (.pst) appears in the Navigation pane.
Before Outlook 2010, the default display name for Outlook Data File (.pst) was Personal Folders.
This can be confusing if you work with multiple Outlook Data Files (.pst) that were created in previous versions of Outlook. We recommend that you use a descriptive display name for each Outlook Data File (.pst). On the File tab, click Account Settings > Account Settings. On the Data Files tab, click the Outlook Data File (.pst) file > Settings.
In the Name box, enter a descriptive name for the Outlook Data File (.pst).
Note: Changing the display name doesn't rename the file. Only the name as it appears in the Navigation pane is changed. When you no longer need frequent access to an Outlook Data File (.pst), you can close the file. A closed file no longer appears in the Navigation pane, but isn't deleted from your computer.
Right-click the name of the Outlook Data File (.pst) that you want to remove from the Navigation pane, and then click Close name.
Caution: If the Close command isn't available, you're probably trying to remove the default Outlook Data File (.pst) file that is used to save your new messages. If you were to remove that data file, new messages would have nowhere to go. Important: Office 2010 is no longer supported.
Upgrade to Microsoft 365 to work anywhere from any device and continue to receive support.Upgrade now. If you created a .pst file that doesn't appear in the Navigation pane, add the .pst file to Outlook so that you can work with the items in it.
On the File menu, point to Open, and then click Outlook Data File. Click the .pst file that you want to open, and then click OK.
Note: The name of the folder that is associated with the data file appears in the Folder List. To view the Folder List, on the Go menu, click Folder List.
By default, the folder will be called Personal Folders. The following is a list of where Outlook data files are saved on your computer.
Search another Outlook data file
Some of the folders might be hidden folders. To view them, do one of the following:.
Click the Start button, and then click Control Panel.
Click Folder Options.
Click the View tab, and then click the Show hidden files and folders option. File locations in Windows Vista.