Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Can I import Outlook Express email into another instance of Outlook Express?


I'll assume you're running OE 6. Hit File, Import, Messages, select Outlook Express 6 (or whatever version of Outlook Express you're importing from, and press Next. Now select Import mail from an OE6 store directory, and press OK. The next page of the import wizard will let you point to the directory containing the other OE's store. Once you've selected that, press Next and you can choose which folders to import.

Article C2029 - June 12, 2004 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

July 13, 2004 6:58 AM

how do I import my e-mails to this computer?

July 13, 2004 9:03 AM

That depends on many things you haven't specified. What email program? What operating system? Where are the email's now that you want to import? What email program were they saved with?

David Brazeau
July 21, 2004 9:40 AM

I still can't import my email from outlookexpress becuse it says it's in use by outlook express...

I just re-installed outlook express and only have one version running.

How do i get all my old emails back...pls help me!!!

Thanx, youre friend.

July 21, 2004 11:17 AM

If you're running only one copy, and the files are reported as in use then either you're not importing the files you think you are, or they're already open in OE and there's no need to import.

October 12, 2004 5:24 PM

I'm trying to import files from an old drive, but I can't figure out the directory that they would be in. Anyone know the file or directory? I've been told they have .dbx extensions or reside in an *identity* folder.

October 12, 2004 5:26 PM

Depends on the operating system that was being used on that drive. My advice is to use the Search for Files feature on the Start menu and look for "*.dbx".

October 21, 2004 8:57 PM

I store my outlook express emails in files in outlook express- down the left side of the screen where you can make files- now I find out that this is taking up way too much space on my computer- but it is handy having them so readily available for review- it is like another filing system. But they tell me that there is another way to store these email files so that I can continue to reference them, but they won't take up space on OE. Is this what the 'store' option is under the maintenace section of OE. Please advise. shelley

October 21, 2004 9:21 PM

Well, messages take up space wherever they're stored. I'm not aware of "another way" that you're asking about. The store option is where outlook express stores it's messages ... in other words it's what you're already using. You can move it, but it takes the same amount of space.

October 25, 2004 8:14 AM

Hi there,

I'm having a strange problem. It imported all my folders, which got me excited. I then proceeded to ensure the importing of messages was complete - and am frustrated as only messages in my inbox, sent & deleted folders appear.

(I'm trying to set up my new system before the old one goes in for upgrades -- using Outlook Express) With 20 folders and over 2000 messages, I'm desperate for some assistance :)

Do you know if there's a reason for this or if I may have missed something along the way?

Many thanks in advance :)

October 28, 2004 4:06 PM


I just got a new laptop, and i'm trying to import all my messages into my outlook express 6 in windows xp, from OE6 in windows xp, first i couldn't find the folder in the share folders, finally, after making it visible, i found the folder that contains my messages, but at the time of trying to import from this folder, an error says that that folder does not contains any messages or is in use, i've checked 20 times, it is the right folder! why is it happening? and what can i do? i need my messages!



February 10, 2005 7:20 AM

Hi Leo,
I've got this OE(old version) back up as *.dbx from my old PC and now I trying to transfer these folders to my new OE6 on SP2(XP). I can't see to import or transfer them. I've tried creating folders using the same name on OE6 but I can't still see my old mails. Could you pls help me. I'm out of my wits as Microsoft is not helping much thru' the knowledge base neither call them via phone helps too. I'm in your dept.

February 25, 2005 6:21 PM

I'm having the same problem as Jan posted, she didn't get a reply, is their an answer why we only got back the 3 folders and not the other folders - please help, there was important saved mails in the other folders and I don't know how to get the others to import back ??? I tried doing them individually as well, they just won't go back in, I deselected the read only aspect, there is content in them, but they won't import back :(

February 25, 2005 8:25 PM

My approach would be to try to copy the entire tree of files and folders found under the OLD Outlook Express's Data Store location, and use that to replace the contents ot the new Outlook Express's Data Store location.

March 5, 2005 2:21 PM


I tried your approach of copying all the old files and folder and paste them into the new OE data store location. However the OE does not automatically pick up any of the folders. I then tried to import the messages using the new OE import function and when I use the same location of the data files as the new OE, the error message that the folder does not contains any messages or is in use.

Please advise.

Mark C
March 9, 2005 12:19 PM

Like several others who have posted here, I backed up all the sent messages on my old machine as a .dbx file. I now have them on my desktop. When I try to import them into Outlook on my new computer, the response is that there are "no messages in that folder." But I'm lookin right at the file.
No one has answered the others on this site who have had this problem, but here's hoping...
Mark C.

March 9, 2005 10:42 PM

just like others who have posted here, i have the same problem..does microsoft have any answer to our common dilemma? we all need our "old" messages!

Mark Glazener
March 12, 2005 3:13 PM

I had the same problem about importing and having Outlook Express tell me there were no files to import. Here's the trick. Go to each of your .dbx files and display the Properties. They will each probably have Read Only checked. Uncheck this option and try your import again. Should work this time.

March 25, 2005 1:29 PM

One more option to try for subfolders -
Open the new Outlook Express and first create empty subfolders with matching titles for every subfolder .dbx file. Then, close Outlook Express and open your store folder. You should then be able to drag your old .dbx files into the stores folder and replace the empty subfolders you just created. My OE wouldn't recognize .dbx files pasted into the stores folder unless I had an instance of the folder created there first. Hope that helps - nothing else I tried would!

April 5, 2005 3:09 PM

Ha! I just did it! I copied all the dbx folders from OE6 on my win98 computer, and burned 'em to a cd. (Can't find 'em? Do a search on inbox, be sure it will show hidden folders; that will steer you to their hidden lair) I put those in a new folder on my desktop on my new xp machine. I moved a small one as a trial to the new machine's new OE dbx file folder, and yes, OE totally ignored it.
So I just went to OE6 -file--import--messages--outlook express 6 --OE6 store directory--browse--
found my file with the old email folders--did the import, and voila! I am restored! Hope this helps! Tom

April 14, 2005 5:18 PM

You saved me thanks

May 2, 2005 4:15 PM

I had the same problem as everyone else. I followed the advice to create a new folder in OE (and save an email to it in order to create a dbx file in the stored folders). I them renamed my backup message dbx to the same name and replaced the file in the stored folders. Worked a treat. Thank you.

May 12, 2005 3:54 AM

I had the same problem: Folder is in use or does NOT contain email-items...
Solution: During the import-procedure do NOT point to the folder with the name Mail, but to the parent-directory that contains this folder! The import-program recognizes the mail-folder of its own! It worked smoothly from there!

May 31, 2005 3:23 PM

It's pretty simple overall.

(For OE 6.xx.xxxetc.)

Just copy your old email folder or files to a folder inside the path in ../application data/.. that your new OE client is defaulting to.

Then, when importing, tell it to look in that folder and you're golden.

June 11, 2005 9:24 PM

Hello All,

I am having similar problems moving mail from Outlook Express in my old computer to Express in my new computer. This is my case:

The old computer's Express was an IMAP client and I have saved mail in the old computers Express in a separate account from the Local Folders account that exists by default in Express. So the situation in the old computer is that I do not have any mail in the Local Folders account (which has an Inbox, Deleted Items folder etc) and only have my mails in the other account which appears like the Local Folders account in the upper left pane of Express.

Now, I want to move the mail in this other account in the old computers Express to my new computers Express. I tried various things and particularly I tried copying all the .dbx files from the old computer to the new one and then using the Import feature in the new computers Express to bring in those mail to Express. Unfortunately, Express only shows Inbox, Deleted Items and the usual default folders for import and does not show the many other folders and mails that I have in the other account.

Can you please help me solve this problem and tell me what I may be doing wrongly?

thank you.

June 12, 2005 10:23 AM

I don't have a tremendous amount of experience with IMAP acocunts, but my understanding is that the mail is kept on the server, not on your machine. So there's nothing to move or import, other than the account settings. So I would, on the new machine, configure the IMAP account, and then download or syncronize mail, and my understanding is that the folders and email should appear.

Good luck!

June 12, 2005 6:13 PM

Thanks for the reply Leo.

Yes, you are right, IMAP folders and mail remain in the server, but you can also have the same be synchronized and stored in your machine as well. So, I did that in my old machine and therefore have in addition to the Local Folders section, another one for this set of folders and mail. Now, while offline in the old machine, I am able to see all mails in the IMAP folders. Also, they are stored as .dbx files in the machine, just as the Local Folders entities (Inbox, Deleted Items etc) have their own .dbx files in the machine. Problem is, how does one make the new machine's Outlook Express read the IMAP .dbx files. I tried to copy them over to the new machine and have Outlook Express access it, but Express does not acknowledge these IMAP .dbx files.

Hope I am more clear this time. Any help will be appreciated. thanks again

June 26, 2005 3:11 PM

I was unable to import folders into OE using the File > Import > etc. method as I'd always get the error message mentioned by several users. Instead, what I did was was create empty subfolders in OE and rename the existing .dbx folders with the exact names given the empty OE folders. [This process has been mentioned before by other users.] But instead of using the OE import method, I merely dragged the .dbx files directly to the Outlook Exprress folder: Windows>Application Data>Identities>"folder with lots of numbers>Microsoft>Outlook Express. No error messages. Opened OE, opened the newly created folder and lo and behold, all imported messages appear. Nothing else worked for me.

July 1, 2005 4:23 AM

My problem is I had 7 identities on my WinXP machine... after my Windows died it's final breath, I built a new computer. My old Outlook E-mail information is now on my backup hard drive (D:) ... I want to import all my mail account settings into my new Outlook Express.

I'm able to import the folders no problem, but I don't want just the folders... I need the e-mail addresses and passwords for those 7 mail accounts (and pop/smtp info).. it's been nearly 10 years since I've set some of those up and it'd be impossible to find out those username/passwords now.

August 2, 2005 10:37 AM

My computer crashed. I was able to install a parallel version of Windows XP home on the same computer. I can now access and removed much of my data, but I cannot seem to copy my email messages into the knew version of xp and outlook ex 6. Can you help me. I did not create a store, but can copy the files.



August 3, 2005 9:08 PM

My problem is I only have one computer. I need to import my emails address book and settings to my new drive but when I try to open my old outlook express on the old drive it is like outlook express from my new drive takes over. How can I get this done.

Ted Dennison
September 2, 2005 1:21 PM

I backed up my messages to a folder but now
I can't import them back into outlook express 6
on my winxp machine. When I use the import wizard
when I get to the screen to select which mail program there is nothing listed, just and empty
box. Any ideas?

I suspect a microsoft bug is the root of the problem.

Mike Dancer
September 13, 2005 4:49 AM

I tried your method to access OE6 email files that I exported from my old computer into a 'Temp' folder on my new computer, but it only duplicated the existing OE files. Incidentally, the old and current files are all suffixed ".dbx", which I understand means they're folders and not individual mesages (I can't find any ".msg" files on my hard disk). Any clues?

September 18, 2005 5:29 AM

i had a problem with windows 2000 pro therefore decided to install XP on the same partition to recover the files, however, I cannot access my old email in outlook in win 2000, i am interested in recovering the old attachments, is there any way I can recover the old mail in win 2000 which I can no longer access.

September 18, 2005 3:40 PM

For outlook, you should just be able to locate the .pst file from before (use file search, if you need to) and then File->Open it in Outlook.

September 19, 2005 6:40 PM

Create a folder named say "XPMail"
Search for *.dbx
Add the folders you want to XPMail and also add the "folders" folder this file is need for the import interface.
Open Outlook, file, import, messages, (which version your importing from), next, import from OE6 store directory, ok , next, all , next.

good luck

September 23, 2005 7:39 AM

Couldnt use import messages. I found an easy way around this. I moved all my dbx files from my newly installed OE to a safe location (just in case...). Then I copied all my old dbx files into the dbx directory. Voila.

September 26, 2005 5:11 AM

i am unable to import my emails from identities folder into outlook express 6, I have followed the proper process as per the guidelines but still no emails. Comments please!!!

September 30, 2005 8:29 PM

i followed import instruction, but failed with this message: No messages can be found in this folder or another application is running that has the required files open. I have all of my old *.dxb files in the specified folder and no other application is running. Help please ?

October 4, 2005 12:10 AM

i have the problem of importing the outlook express local folders to my new computer from old, and i am in LAN network, so help me out in this that how can i retrieve my local folders back in to my new computer, i am using outlook express 6.0 and i am working on windows 2000 professional.....

October 19, 2005 11:30 PM

I've tried it all and nothing works. When I try to import, OE says "no files can be found in this folder or another program etc" neither of which should be true.

When I copy the .dbx file into the proper identity with or without creating an empty folder with the same name, I get the folder, but OE says there are no messages even though the .dbx file size is the same as before (ie the messages are still there). Sorry for the run-on sentence.


October 19, 2005 11:41 PM

One more thing, Eudora can import the messages without problem. Unfortunately my wife doesn't want to switch programs. I didn't have any problem importing the address book into OE, only the messages.

October 20, 2005 9:33 PM

Ok, it's getting even stranger. My computer at work wouldn't import the OE messages, but they did show up when copied into the identity/etc. directory.
So there must be something wrong with my version of OE at home. I tried to download a newer version of Internet explorer, but it said I had the latest version and wouldn't overwrite it (I'll check into this further).

Now OE won't even display even new messages (sent or received).

Sebastian Rimestad
November 4, 2005 7:16 AM

Hello JohnP

According to Microsoft ( this can be because the .dbx files have the attribute of being read-only. I tried changing that, and at once, I managed to import all my e-mails


November 6, 2005 5:00 AM

what about different versions of OE? what if you want to import from OE 5 but the option in the list has only OE4 and OE6? can you add OE5 to the list from which the messages can be imported? you've not answered this part and left me in the loop please!

Leo A. Notenboom
November 6, 2005 10:02 AM

One of OE4 or OE6 should work. Try selecting one and importing your OE5 files. My guess would be that OE4 should work.

November 6, 2005 1:24 PM

Hi, I've been having the same problem as posted. Tried both OE4 and OE6 options, ensured the .dbx files were not read only, etc. Finally found a solution - create a new empty folder in OE6, called e.g.: "test". View the contents of this new empty folder, which creates a new test.dbx file. Close OE6. Rename the .dbx file you want to import to "test", copy it into your OE6 store folder, overwriting the folder that OE6 created. Open OE6, and your messages should be in the "test" folder. Hope this helps.

November 15, 2005 3:13 PM

Thank you Martin - That worked like a charm!!

November 16, 2005 12:18 PM

I am trying to tranfer my old messages from my old hard drive from Windows 98 to my new computer which has Windows XP. So far I have not been successful using the prompts on "import".

November 22, 2005 6:46 PM

I'm having a similar problem trying to locate the message files in oe6. I also have windows xp home edition and I want to transfer files from one computer to another. I see that someone said they are read only files. Does that mean a search cannot find them? How do I locate the message files, actually, I only need the Draft messages. I'm pretty dumb when it comes to these things. any help will be greatly appreciated.

November 22, 2005 11:19 PM

I am trying to copy OE6 files from my desktop onto a laptop and both have OE6 and XP home edition. I tried your suggestion,Martin, but it did not work. It would not allow me to copy across. Anybody else have any suggestions?I have the saved files on cd and they have now been wiped off my desktop.The data is there ok but I cannot load it onto the laptop...

November 23, 2005 3:11 PM

Martin, great work around.

November 28, 2005 3:43 PM

I have just loaded Office2003 and running XP home completlely upgraded (svc pack 3) and I am trying to get Outlook to work properly. I can send messages but not receive. Everything (all emails)keep going to OE6. Can I turn off OE6?

November 28, 2005 4:20 PM

If you're switching to Outlook, you can just stop running Outlook Express.

Mohammed Mehdi
November 28, 2005 6:09 PM

Unfortunately it seems as if when I exported my outlook messages then turned into a .psf file which outlook express does not seem to recognize. Is there any way around this

December 2, 2005 7:01 PM

How can I convert or import an e-mail file with a file extension dbx to get it to read using either outlook express 6 or Microsoft outlook?

December 13, 2005 6:11 PM

I followed the prodecure went through the import wizard and got a message that my mail has been imported, but not into OE6, I can't find it. Did I miss something? there but not even a split second in between hitting the import command and getting the message. it didn't even seem like the program accessed my storage device.
thanks in advance for any help.

December 15, 2005 8:24 PM

Shanthi: .dbx files are outlook express files. You should be able to use the import funciton.

Graham P
December 19, 2005 9:18 AM

I have followed your instructions to migrate my Emails folders from my old WinME machine in OE. I copied the files to a CD but when I tried to import them from the CD onto my new WinXP machine (still OE) it would not recognise the files. Should I move them from the CD onto the new m/cs hard drive - if so where to? You say "from an OE6 store directory" Many thanks. Both machines have OE v6.

Graham P
December 19, 2005 10:15 AM

Further to my earlier post. I have now successfully imigrated my mail folders from my old machine. Whilst my new computer refused to reconise the folders on a CD, when I transferred them all to a new (called Outlook Import) folder on my new machine, and then followed your instructions it worked perfectly. Thanks a lot.

December 26, 2005 1:02 PM

make sure the .dbx files are not read only

February 5, 2006 7:00 AM

I have tried every suggestion here, but still cannot import my old OE6 emails. Every time I change the "read only" attribute from the Store Directory on the CD, it still will not import my messages. The "read only" attribute does not stay unset. I have truly tried every suggestion here. I am running XP on old and new computer and OE6 on each. I have tried saving the old email store directory to a CD then import from that, no success. It is that same old message, NO EMAILS FOUND. I have looked for any solution to this. When I open the Email folder on the CD, I see the subfolders, and they are not showing as Read Only. But the mail Email folder IS and will not let me unset the Read Only setting. I am at my wits end because you all seemed to get it to work. Anyone have yet another solution?

February 5, 2006 8:17 AM

For one thing, you CAN'T change the read-only setting on a CD-ROM. It's a read-only device.

You need to copy the contents of the CD ROM to your hard disk, THEN reset the read-only flag on that copy. Then you should be able to import from that copy.

February 5, 2006 8:39 AM

I tried that too, I have tried every move I could think of. The Read Only reset simply will not stick when I even put the Folder from the CD to My Documents. It seems like it should be a slam dunk, but nothing seems to work when I try to import, short of going back to my old PC and emailing hundreds of emails to a third party email address. So if you have a solution for resetting the Read Only on my hard drive folder when I dump it from a CD, I am totally all ears. I am totally baffled by this. Thanks Leo for the reply, I look forward to another idea.

Brett Hollis
February 5, 2006 10:34 AM


I have had this problem before, and have found a way around it like this:

Check the properties of your inbox on your OLD OE, make a note of the location of the files (i.e. docs and settings/user/local settings/application data/identities/{GRDS23546478263-PO}) or whatever. In this folder you should have inbox, outbox, drafts, etc etc etc, whatever you have in there.


Go to the new OE, and check the location of IT'S inbox and folders (as above).

OPEN the new OE. Prime each folder, by opening it (or clicking on it once) so you can see they're empty (just delete that stupid 'welcome to...' mail). At this point, if you have other dbx files in the OLD OE, i.e. you created sub dirs or folders, you must create them, EXACTLY as per the old OE, i.e. Case sensetive, spaces etc.

THEN, prime each folder again.

Close the new OE, and copy the OLD OE Identity directory contents directly to a CD or the network, whatever. There will be from 5 - however many DBX files here.

THEN, paste these, or copy these, DIRECTLY into the NEW OE's Identity location.

Windows will ask you, 'Do you want to overwrite?' You say yes.

Hey Presto!

Works for me anyways. Don't worry about all that exporting/importing bollox.

February 7, 2006 11:33 AM

I am having the same problem as Darren. My old OE .dbx files are on the hard drive of my new machine and are not "read only," but the folder they are all sitting in keeps going back to "read only" (even after I right click the folder, go to properties, uncheck read only, apply, okay).

Roger Knowles
February 18, 2006 7:12 AM

I had the same problem with an inablility to re-set the read-only flag. Here is a possible solution to that issue:

I hope this helps

February 26, 2006 10:21 PM

I've tried everything. I was able to get the .dbx file onto my new computer. But the OE6 import function doesn't recognize it. The suggestions in this thread don't work on my computer. The only thing I can think of is that the e-mails were created under Win98SE but I'm trying to import into XP. Or is there some sort of auxiliary file that also needs to be imported into the new computer?

Lee Endo
March 24, 2006 8:23 AM

The best way i've found is to copy all the folders from docs and settings/user/local settings/application data/identities/{GRDS23546478263-PO} on your old machine (except folder.dbx, leave this) and then transfer them to your new machine, overwrite all the existing ones on your new machine and then rename the folders.dbx file to folders.dbt. Close the folder and start up OE, OE realises there is no folders file and makes a new on and hey presto all your old folders are non your new machine.

March 24, 2006 5:47 PM

I've replaced an old computer that died before I could get any files off it. I did salvage a good hard drive from it, which was drive C: on that old computer running OE5. This hard drive now works on my new computer as Drive L: I can't find any way to get my old Address Book off of Drive L: and onto Drive C: of my new computer so I can use it with my new OE6. (In fact, when I run L:\---\wab.exe it shows my current OE6 Address Book.)

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks,Jim

March 24, 2006 7:42 PM

You need to look for files that end in ".wab" on drive L:. That's the address book.

April 22, 2006 5:02 AM

How do I send message Send HTML, plain text, messages?

Error is ( you are sending this message as a rich-text html message some of the recipients prefer to receive only plain text message

April 22, 2006 9:09 AM

As you compose a message in Outlook Express, on the Format Menu, select Plain Text.

April 23, 2006 6:55 PM

I have ALMOST a similar problem but not quite and hope someone can help?

I need to move some of the folders (with files inside) that I have created on one of my OE accounts, to another account in the same OE and in the same machine. i.e.: folders I created in my OE account "A" I need to move to my OE account "B". Is there a way to do it? Thanks anyone! Adela

April 24, 2006 9:43 AM

Correcting my message of 4-23:

I used the wrong terms, I meant to ask how to move folders I created in OE, from one of my identities into another of my identities. I wrongly used "accounts" instead of "identities". Please someone tell me? Thanks. Adela

May 1, 2006 4:24 AM

i had my OE in c: drive. I formatted c: drive and installed fresh win Xp. I didn't take any backups of my mails before formatting. How can I extract my mails from the mail server?

May 1, 2006 9:23 AM

You probably cannot. The normal settings delete mail from the server when you download it.

May 6, 2006 7:36 AM

I have downloaded Windows 2000 Professional into the computer that had Windows 98. But I cant find any of my old email files or addreses. How can I retrieve my old information and import it into my new outlook express. ??

May 7, 2006 3:21 AM

Hiya. I backed up all my Outlook messages and address book data from my old computer onto a cd before the old comp died. I've managed to import the address book to Outlook on the new computer but having problems getting the dbx files with messages to import to the new computer. They're saved individually under each folder name.

May 21, 2006 11:42 AM


I have a cd with dbx files from Outlook Express. I want to import the contents of those dbx files to Outlook. When I attempt to do this I get a message that the files cannot be opened because they are already being used by another proramme.

Outlook Express appears to be installed automatically, how do I get my files to Outlook 2003. I can't seem to unistall express.

I'd be very glad for your help.


May 22, 2006 4:17 PM

You need to copy the files to some place on your hard drive, and then make sure that they are NOT marked "read-only". On CD-ROMs they are read only, and that confuses the importer.

June 19, 2006 5:38 AM

I ahve a problem with my outlook express. Always when try to connect to Outlook express there is one message that appears on the screen and that is: "Outlook express could not be started , because there is another isntance of it running on your computer". Tell me please how can I solve this problem?

June 21, 2006 6:35 PM

Just installed a new computer, and need to get my old emails from Outlook from my old machine. Where are they (eg. filename) on my old computer? Had folders, etc. that I need to import and still keep my old email messages. I suspect I will have to burn them on a cd, but don't know the filename/folder where these are kept Help

July 3, 2006 7:40 PM

When I try to import my .dbx files I get a message saying that I can't because there are no files or they are open somewhere else on the computer. HELP WITH THIS PLEASE. They aren't open anywhere else.

July 10, 2006 1:22 PM

(old drive):\Documents and Settings\USER\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook\Outlook(office data file).
Paste that to current drive in the same place, it might overwrite anything that you have in there but all old messages from knackered windows will be there.
Worked for me anyway.

July 11, 2006 2:27 PM

I'm so discouraged, and my brain is weary.
Our computer has two "users".
After setting up a separate "identity"(?) with separate email address for the second user, I need to "transfer", or "import" message folders from the old "identity" (email address)location. When I do the file-import-browse-c drive-program files-outlook express process, and hit "next", I get a window telling me that I can't access it, because it's open, or in use, or some such.
I've also tried to "drag n' drop" to a CD, to no avail.

If anyone can guide me through this, I would be most grateful.

michele Winer
July 13, 2006 9:21 PM

Hi I had my outlook express backed up and they are in a DBX file that now says they are a word doc(. I can't open them in word). I have a new computer and I would like to import my files. How do I do that??? The Geek Squad said all I would need to do is put the CD in and it would just go from there, I NEED HELP!!!! How do I import these files? Thanks soooo much in advance I read above is it the same

Steve Sanford
July 15, 2006 9:12 PM

After HOURS of frustration - getting the "no messages found" or "file in use" message when importing - I found Lee Edno's method of transfering DBX files and renaming the Folders.dbx to Folders.dbt WORKED LIKE A CHARM!!!
****Thanks Lee!****

I quote Lee:
The best way i've found is to copy all the folders from docs and settings/user/local settings/application data/identities/{GRDS23546478263-PO} on your old machine (except folder.dbx, leave this) and then transfer them to your new machine, overwrite all the existing ones on your new machine and then rename the folders.dbx file to folders.dbt. Close the folder and start up OE, OE realises there is no folders file and makes a new on and hey presto all your old folders are non your new machine.

Posted by: Lee Endo at March 24, 2006 08:23 AM

July 18, 2006 7:02 AM

I am trying to retreive/import outlook express emails from an old HD to a new HD which is using outlook 2003. I have scowered the net and found that depending on what version of express you have the file extn will be_. I have ran a search on every extension I could find and I can not locate my old emails or contact info. Any direction you can offer would be much appreciated. thx

August 1, 2006 3:23 PM

I copied the messages I created on vacation but did not copy the identity, only the directory with the messages. Now I cannot import the messages using Outlook express or mearly copying the sub-directories to a new identity. What can I do?

jim curley
August 8, 2006 10:03 AM

My old computer 'crashed'. I put the old hard drive into my new computer as a backup (slave) drive to the new computer's Master HD. I am able to access the old drive, but when I try to Import its OE addresses or messages to the new HD, I get the message that they are not there. If I look up the Store address, I get an address, but I don't know if it's the old HD's OE or the new HD's OE... no matter whether I select to run OE from the old or the new HD, it appears to be the same, and all I get is the message that "there are no files in that folder..." when I try to Import! I have tried following the instructions in this article to the letter, but it doesn't work.
What am I doing wrong?

August 11, 2006 10:25 PM

Jim, I feel your pain. I can't get my computer to import from the old hard drive either. Let's hope someone can help us!

August 12, 2006 6:35 AM


Another problem, on my old computer all mails are stored in a :pst file. How can i transfer them to the new one wich have .dbx

Al Ball
August 12, 2006 12:25 PM

I am trying to transfer .dbx Outlook Express 6 emails from one computer to another that is also using Outlook Express 6. The directions to do so at the top of this web page do not work.

I get the following message:

"No messages can be found in this folder or another application is running that has the required files open. Please select another folder or try closing application that may have files open."

The only application I have open is Outlook Express. I have tried using the MyDocuments Folder and the CD Drive with a single .dbx file on a CD as sources.

Thank you.

r u d y x o f t
August 13, 2006 11:32 AM

NO MESSAGES CAN BE FOUND... Hope this is of some help to some of you...

The "*\Identities\{user-account-code}" folder sometimes will not display any contents since they are 'hidden' by windows. To 'un-hide' the files and folders, you should:
1. Enable the options 'Display the contents of system folders' and 'Show hidden files and folders' on the 'Options' menu on Windows Explorer.
2. Perform a 'Search' to find the file "folders.dbx".
3. Once you get the list of seach results, right click on the 'folders.dbx' file that belongs to the Identity you want to import the mail from (check the dir root), and click on 'Open containing folder'.
4. A new explorer window pops up, but this time, showing all contents of the "*\Identities\{user-account-code}" folder. From this window, COPY the whole "Microsoft" folder to a known location. This should 'UN-HIDE' your mail files.
5. Perform the import procedure again, but this time using your new location as the source, making sure that the folder selected is '*\Microsoft\Outlook Express\'.
Good luck!

Ian (NZ)
August 18, 2006 3:09 AM

I had exactly the problem as described by Steve Sandford in his comment of 15 July 2006. I had carefully located the ~.dbx files on my old computer, burned them to disk and reinserted them into the correct directory of the newer computer. It only recognised Inbox and Sent items, none of the other folders. After removing duplicate files for each time I repeated the action I was back at step 1 - no additional folders had been repopulated with my old messages. Eventually I threw some key words into Google to see if anyone had had a similar problem and arrived at this page. I read the latest comments, followed the advice and it worked like a charm. Thanks Leo, I can now de-stress

August 20, 2006 7:16 PM

Hi Leo and others out there!

My SEND window has disappeared in my Outlook Express and now to send I go into FILE and then SEND NOW......where could it have gone?



August 22, 2006 1:09 AM

Can I import my Outlook Express emails into another cpmputer?

August 30, 2006 11:32 PM

I want to export from my outlook express to another address on certain set days of the week. Is it possible to set up a time and date scheduled export to a different address, computer and program?
Best regards,

September 3, 2006 11:31 PM

I have a CD with all my old "outlook express" on it.
I can't import the files to the new Outlook Express ie Inbox saved is a DBX file size 139MB and is a read only file.
Can you please help??

September 10, 2006 10:54 AM

I had this same problem -- the folder with the files that you are importing CAN NOT be read only!! I changed it and it worked!!

Clare Shemeta
October 15, 2006 1:10 PM

I am trying to import my old OE 6.0 inbox, and some other folders to a new OE 6.0 instance on a new XP machine. I have dilligently located and saved off the .dbx files, and renamed them to inboxOLD.dbx etc. I have saved these files in the OE mailbox directory (the long documents and settings, local settings, etc - where the new OE instance message folders are located).

I am getting the dreaded "The specified message store could not be opened, it could be in use by OE". I followed the instructions in posting by Al Ball on 8/12. All the folders are not hidden and Display contents of system folders is enabled. What am I doing wrong (and why the heck doesn't MS have anything on this on the knowledgebase?) grrrr!

Clare Shemeta
October 15, 2006 1:28 PM

I'm posting in response to my posting. I went back and followed Al Ball's instructions, but got balled up on step 5. He says use the new location as the source, but then says "make sure the folder selected is '*\microsoft\outlook express". I have copied the files to the new location, but am worried about deleting all the .dbx files in the special folder and re-copying them from the "new" folder. Thoughts?

October 22, 2006 7:43 PM

I'll keep this short. Thank you!!!!! I was able to recover my e-mail files from a crased OS, using your information and my newly installed disk and OS.

I set the disk with the crashed OS as a slave and just transferred the files as you indicated.

Graham Weekes
November 13, 2006 4:01 AM

Dear Leo,
I tried to import using the OE import tool and followed your advice about copying files to unhide them but in each instance a message appears:
"No messages can be found in this folder or another application is running that has the required files open"
I do not knowingly have anything else open, only OE6 itself.
I have also tried dragging and dropping and copying and pasting the files into the correct folder without success. They are in the folder but OE6 just does not see them.
I have ensured they are not read only.
The only messages I have in my inbox are the 2 standard welcoming/opening messages from Microsoft.
Any idea what I could be doing wrong?
Thanks in anticipation

William Odell
November 18, 2006 3:30 PM


I have imported my emails from Outlook Express into Outlook.

My sent emails have not fully imported. I have 2 recent emails and emails which have been sent before 2004.

Can you help me import all my sent emails?

All inbox emails have sucessfully imported.

Thank you


Woody Chipman
November 28, 2006 7:02 PM

I tried to import using the OE import tool and followed your advice about copying files to unhide them but in each instance a message appears:
"No messages can be found in this folder or another application is running that has the required files open"
I do not knowingly have anything else open, only OE6 itself.
I have also tried dragging and dropping and copying and pasting the files into the correct folder without success. They are in the folder but OE6 just does not see them.
I have ensured they are not read only.

I am at the same point as the above. I have tried it from cd, shared files etc. I am trying to move files to an older windows '98 system from a system with XP. Both are on Office 2000.

Any Thoughts?


chea dinna
November 28, 2006 8:08 PM

can u tell me how to copy all mail from outlook express to Microsoft outlook when i join new domain?

Rudy Xoft
November 30, 2006 8:09 AM

I have done this procedure many times... if you are following every step on the comments I posted on Aug 13,2006, just make sure the 98 system has the same or NEWER version of OE... Check the Help-->About menu for version # on both systems. If not, install updates (from Microsoft's site) on the 'Importing' computer... You shouldn't have any problems.
Also make sure all other users are logged off completely to avoid any conflicts...

December 12, 2006 7:01 PM

I was having this same problem for a while and had tried everything everyone else has tried with no lukc. Then just now I renamed the .dbx Inbox.dbx then copied it into my OE folder, restarted OE and bam! It finally worked. They're all in there.

C:\Documents and Settings\User1\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\{D527DBE8-700A-4E15-A0CE-B9B792E84D20}\Microsoft\Outlook Express

Ted Berra
January 2, 2007 10:22 AM

I see that many, like myself, who followed Leo's instructions, are still unable to import the 'old' emails into their new pc. After days of being totally frustrated I finally found the solution below, and am posting it here for others in the same situation: Happy New Year

[Copyrighted material removed. Just follow the link above.]

January 13, 2007 5:39 AM

hello, im having similar trouble with my importing of emails from old PC to new. ive managed to import them and the names are their in the inbox folder but each name has no email to read!! what next?

Chan Sek Kong
March 11, 2007 7:10 AM

I am trying to import my Outlook Express files from another harddisk (slave) into the master harddisk.
However, I am unable to locate the Outlook Express files in the slave harddisk.
Background info - As my harddisk shows an error code 07, I have bought a new harddisk and perform the necessary Window XP installation and MS Office on the new harddisk. My old harddisk is still performing well (cannot see an error except for the diagnostic 07 code) & is slotted as a slave. PleaPosted by: Clare Shemeta at October 15, 2006 01:28 PM
I'll keep this short. Thank you!!!!! I was able to recover my e-mail files from a crased OS, using your information and my newly installed disk and OS.

Posted by: Clare Shemeta at October 15, 2006 01:28 PM
I set the disk with the crashed OS as a slave and just transferred the files as you indicated.
se assist. Thank you

Rod Schall
May 7, 2007 3:33 PM

I have been trying to import my email files and address book from my old computer. I went through the steps given above for saving them to an external hard drive. On the new computer, I was able to get all my email messages, but when trying to import my address book, I keep getting this error message:

An error occurred during the import process. The import process could not be completed.

I can open the address book in Excel, but that is not where I want it. I could also import it to Microsoft Outlook, but not Outlook Express where all my other files are. What do I need to do?

Charlie Worcester
May 20, 2007 2:59 PM

After spending nights trying to transfer/copy my email messages in Outlook Express to my new computer, I found Leo's instructions. They work flawlessly. Thank you Leo.

Jahnny Cash
August 2, 2007 5:20 AM

I'm studying in Extended MAPI and try importing mail files into Outlook like .msg,.eml and .tnef files.But I don't know where to begin or how to with Extended MAPI.Now I am confused and looking forward your help.If you might give me a sample,I'd really appreciate it.
Thank you!

August 9, 2007 5:37 PM

The trick is to find those pesky *.dbx files once ytou know what you are looking for it is a little easier (in xp the file name is numeric... what a help... and changes from system to system... and install to install just to make it interesting then the file under it is microsoft, since i was copying all my files i just moved to whole microsoft folder) just checked and this has worked on my system (from xp to xp) dual boot went wrong had to get my files out before reinstalling... I hope this helps you guys.


August 10, 2007 7:55 AM

Sorry I should of put the directory name is numeric... hmmmm hope that I havent made it harder than it should be!

Vanilla Gorilla
October 27, 2007 7:27 PM

If you've got access to the old drive (i.e. set as slave in the new system), then you just need to make sure your windows explorer allows you to see all hidden folders and files. Then just follow the path 'drive letter':\Documents and Settings\'username'\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\'whatever number express came up with'\Microsoft\Outlook Express

Just set your new OE to import and point towards that folder, Walla, done.

November 24, 2007 12:05 PM

Thanks Rupture...Your's was the answer I was looking for. My old computer crashed but the hard drive was still workable. I put it in an external drive case but was having trouble finding the file with all my messages. Thanks mucho. Now all I have to do is some cleaning up.

January 17, 2008 10:40 AM

I just bought a new laptop and I'd like to transfer all my messages (mailboxes) from my old laptop which is running Outlook Express 6 to the new one. The new laptop is running Microsoft Outlook 2007. The problem I'm having is when I try to export my messages from OE6 It asks me to choose a Profile or create a new one then I get an error message saying: The MAPI Spooler could not be started. Close then restart any mail-enabled programs MAPI 1.0 (000004C7).
I believe I need .pst files to import my mailboxes but all I can get are the dbx files which I don't think are any help when you're using a newer mailclient version. Does anyone know how I might fix this problem?

January 25, 2008 5:38 PM

I am trying to transfer my Outlook Express dbx files to Outlook 2007. The folders (up to the letter M) transferred but they're all empty!!! The dbx files from a-z are there but every time I tried using the procedure above to import the .dbx files but I get an error message saying I don't have permission. Excuse me? It's my dang computer and I should have access, I'm the only user on my laptop and am not even hooked up to a network. I'm really frustrated that all my clients' emails files are unusable. Thanks Microsoft for ruining 7 years of my business!

January 27, 2008 8:06 PM


January 28, 2008 2:02 PM

To import email from Outlook Express into Outlook open outlook go to file:import-export:last entry is import mail & addresses:then menu provides for importing from outlook express, and voila just import.

February 23, 2008 6:28 AM

Thanks for your instructions Leo! Do you have similar instructions for Vista's Windows Mail? For XP I've been using Adolix Email Backup , but they don't support Vista.

Elizabeth Gawor
March 5, 2008 7:02 AM

I would like to transfer/copy 90 emails from Microsoft Outlook on one computer to Microsoft Outlook on another under different email addresses, how do I do that?

Samantha Smith
April 4, 2008 3:50 AM

Please tell me if I import my outlook express e-mail from my old computer onto my new one, will the e-mail still exist on my old computer.Would I be able to check my outlook express from either computer? I want to set up one at home and at work but still be able to access my outlook from both with having all e-mails on both computers.

Thank you
Samantha Smith

April 14, 2008 10:05 PM

I'm an experienced computer user and I am totally UN-able to access old emails and my previous address book thus far, even using your instructions. Any further recommendations? I've got my previous set-up on C:\My Backup -- 14-04-08 0721


April 19, 2008 12:04 AM

I had Outlook Express 2000 (version 6) on my previous computer. Now my new computer has Outlook 2007. I have imported all emails from OE to Outlook 2007. However, the .dbx files which is the sent folder is not getting imported. How can I import the sent files from OE to Outlook 2007? Thanks for your help in advance.
Warm Regards,

May 25, 2008 11:23 AM

I want to know if I can import to Outlook Express 6 from an email like yahoo and hotmail. I also just changed my ISP and can't get my email under my old ISP, I need to know if it is possible to import from my old address until all of my friends know the new address?

Juergen Harder
July 12, 2008 12:32 PM

If some of you are trying to import your outlook express files from one computer into Microsoft Outlook on another computer as I have been trying to do... Simply copy the store folder as mentioned above to the new computer. Open outlook express to import that folder. THEN open outlook and import from outlook express. All should be right with the world after that.

July 24, 2008 6:26 PM

how can i transfer files from windows email to eudora email

August 19, 2008 10:20 PM

Leo, I backed up my old emails from Outlook by dragging and dropping them into a folder on my desktop. Is there a way that I can sort the emails by sender and not by subject? Help!

January 26, 2009 11:03 AM

How can I transfer email files from outlook express on an old computer with xp pro to outlook 2007 on a new laptop with vista

Michael Bradley
January 30, 2009 8:28 AM

Thanks for the info, I am a Mac support person and am very busy helping Windows users who switch to Mac but still run Windows on their new Macs with either Parallels or VMWare. I have had to learn a great deal about various Windows issues to do this and your pages have been very useful. One comment on the Outlook Express mail box transfer ... I had to turn off the READ ONLY check box on the folder containing the mail boxes before the import worked. After that is was simple. I must say running Windows on the new Macs is easier and faster than any of the PCs I try. Thanks again for the clear, simple and good tips. Not too common lol ;)

February 4, 2009 10:39 PM

I follow your instructions to import messages into OE, but I get the following message each time: "No messages can be found in the folder or another application is running that has the required files open. Please select another folder or try closing applications that may have files open".

As far as I know the files are not being used. I have done this in the past with no problems... So this time I am stumped.

Any ideas???

February 24, 2009 2:56 PM

I have tried using the instructions to copy my emails from xp outlook express 6 to vista and it keeps saying there are no files, I have checked they are not read only or hidden or archive?? any ideas Leo, your instructions were perfect upto the point of my vista outlook not being able to see them to copy them back into my new laptops email??

March 25, 2009 1:30 AM

how i do canvort outlook mail

deepak singh rawat
June 25, 2009 5:16 AM

haw can take back up outlook and re install outlook back and address boll also

July 23, 2010 7:51 AM

Yes you can import dbx files into Outlook Express. Try using Import DBX from

July 4, 2011 6:57 AM

Read Article but have bit of a problem. I am using Visa, IE8 and not IE6 and my ISP's pop&smtp are being rejected by Outlook Express 2003 you mentioned are IE6 related. I get same error code that others had that led me to this area. Could I download newer version over present Outlook 2003 that would work with my IE8? The end of error code indicates SSL servers can't be found yet when I chek IE8 settings, SSL boxes are checked? Can you help me with this please?

So I'm fairly confused - Outlook Express 6 came with IE6, it's true, but updating IE shouldn't impact it. You mention Outlook [Express] 2003 - there is no "Outlook Express 2003", there is an "Outlook 2003". Outlook is a part of the Microsoft Office suite, and completely unrelated to Outlook Express, despite the confusing name. Finally, the POP3 settings shouldn't change regardless of which version you're working. My recommendation is that you clarify exactly whether you're working with Outlook or Outlook Express, and which version, and then contact your ISP for some help.

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