To help readers follow the instructions in this article, we used two different typefaces:
Boldface type is used to identify the names of icons, agendas and URLs.
Sans serif type shows commands and instructions users should type into the computer and the names of files.
Q. I just bought a new PC loaded with Microsoft Office. My old computer also has Office, and Outlook contains all my contact information—names, e-mail and snail mail addresses and telephone numbers. How do I transfer all that to my new computer? I hope I don’t have to type it in.
A. Worry not. Outlook has a process for exporting and importing its information with just a few clicks. The problem is moving such a large chunk of data—usually measured in gigabytes—to the new computer. My suggestion is to use a portable hard disk or some other high-capacity portable device to handle the transfer.
You might ask, “Why can’t I just link the two computers and transfer the files?” It’s certainly technically possible to do that, but I would recommend against it because, while it looks easy, you’ll probably face some thorny problems in getting the two machines to recognize each other. Even if they don’t have to transfer Outlook data, I think all users should have a portable high-capacity device available. It’s like a Swiss army knife: It comes in handy at unexpected times to accomplish many chores. Since it’s portable, it’s perfect for data backups. A typical portable 80-Gb drive costs less than $200—a wise investment. Portable disks come with a USB port for easy connection via a USB cable, to any computer.
Now, to the actual export and import process. Begin by locating Outlook’s .pst file in the old computer.
The easiest way to find it is to open Explorer and click on Search , which is situated on the toolbar (see screenshot at right) and follow the screen instructions.
In the space under Search for files or folders named , type *.pst . (the asterisk is a wild card that stands for any file name). In the space under Look in , type the drive that contains Windows; it’s probably C: . The file’s name likely will be Outlook.pst , but I suggest using the wild card just in case it has another name. The search screen will resemble the screenshot below.
Once you locate it, link the old computer and the portable drive with the USB cable. Your old computer should recognize the new drive immediately and give it a temporary drive letter. Using Explorer, copy Outlook.pst from the old computer and paste it in the portable drive.
Now open Outlook on the old machine, go to the toolbar and click on File and then on Import and Export to open the Import and Export Wizard (see screenshot below).
Highlight Import from another program or file and click on Next , which brings up this screen:
Highlight Personal Folder File (.pst) and click on Next , bringing up this screen:
Under File to import click on Browse and locate your old Outlook.pst file on the portable drive. If you’ve placed some new contacts or made changes to Outlook on the new computer, click on the radio button next to Do not import duplicates . If you did not add or change any contacts it makes no difference which button you click on. Click on Next and Outlook will do the rest.