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In Microsoft Outlook 2002, 2003, and 2007, what are personal folder files, and how do I create them?

In Outlook 2002, 2003, and 2007, a personal folder file is a file with a .pst extension that is located on your computer's hard disk instead of the server. Personal folder files contain messages, forms, files, and other personal folders. You work with a personal folder file as you would with any other file. You can save, copy, and move a .pst file to another location on your hard disk, a floppy disk, or a server. These files allow you to view your read messages when you are not connected to the server.

Setting up personal folders

  1. From the Tools menu, select Account Settings. For Outlook 2002 and 2003, select File | New | Outlook Data File.
  2. The New Outlook Data File window will open.
    • If you only use Outlook 2003 or 2007 to view personal folder files, select Office Outlook Personal Folders File (.pst). If you want your personal folder files to be compatible with previous versions of Outlook, select Outlook 97-2002 Personal Folders File (.pst). Click OK.
    • For Outlook 2002, select Personal Folders File (.pst), and then click OK.
  3. The Create or Open Outlook Data File window will open. From the drop-down menu next to "Save In:", select the folder in which you would like the personal folder file stored. Outlook is the default, and most people will want the folder there.  If you have a drive mapped to a server where you would like to store a personal folder file, you can navigate to it now.
  4. In the "Filename:" field, enter a filename for the folder file (e.g., Becky's Personal Folder File) or simply leave the default name. A .pst extension will be added automatically.

    Note: This is the name for the .pst file only. You will need to name the folder separately (see next step).

  5. Click OK. You will now see a window called Create Microsoft Personal Folders. The name that you supply here will appear among your mail folders in Outlook; therefore, you should use a name that is related to the contents of the folder. For example, if you named the .pst file "Becky's Personal Folder File", then you may want to name this folder "Becky's Personal Folder".

You can also password-protect your personal folder. If you do not password-protect the folder, any Outlook user profile on your machine can access the .pst file at any time.

Warning: If you do password-protect the folder, make sure you remember the password. If you forget the password, there is no way to recover the information in the .pst file.

Using personal folders

You can use personal folder files to save copies of your email, calendar, and contacts, or to move e-mail off the Exchange server. To move mail to a personal folder file, select the mail messages you wish to move, and right-click them. From the menu that appears, select  Move to Folder.... From the list that appears, select the correct folder and click OK.

Note: Any messages you move to a personal folder will be removed from the Exchange server and will be available only on the computer or disk on which you created the .pst file.

You can also move messages by clicking and dragging them to the appropriate folder. If you wish to copy messages (i.e., leave a copy in the original folder), use the right mouse button to drag the messages. After you drop the messages into the personal folder, a menu will appear, allowing you to choose Copy or Move.

Should you need to repair your personal file folders, search the Microsoft knowledge base on the terms outlook .pst repair.

You can search Microsoft's knowledge base at:

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