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When transferring emails from Outlook to use on another computer, it's important to create files that can be read by the new computer.

I left a job recently where I had Windows XP and Microsoft Outlook on my laptop. I transferred, to save, some of my Outlook emails to a DVD when I left. But my personal laptop runs Windows 7 Home Premium's 64 bit and Windows Live mail. And when I insert the DVD, it only shows the folders that I saved the emails in, but when I click on them, they won't open in Live Mail so I cannot read them. I tried using the import function but that didn't work either. Do I need to download Microsoft Office Outlook 2010 to be able to open and read these emails files?

In this excerpt from Answercast #15, I examine the kind of files created by Outlook and recommend ways to open saved email files.

Will the emails open with Outlook?

Quite possibly.

I'm not sure how you transferred to save the emails to a DVD. There are several different approaches.

Transferring Outlook emails

Typically, my recommended approach for Outlook is to:

  • Create a new PST file
  • Drag and drop all of the emails that you want to save into that new PST file
  • Close it in Outlook
  • Then copy the PST or burn the PST that you just created to a DVD.

Doing it that way definitely takes another copy of Outlook to open the PST and examine its contents.

File types

I don't know what kind of file is created if you just drag and drop a message out of Outlook on to a file and on to a DVD or into Windows Explorer.

If it's a .eml file, then Windows Live mail should just be able to open that if you double-click on the .eml file. You won't necessarily be able to import it, but you'll at least be able to view the contents of the file.

Try it with Outlook

My recommendation at this point (given that I don't exactly know what it is you have on the DVD and how you created it) would be to go ahead and grab a copy of Outlook 2010 (or even an older version; whatever version you had at work) and install that. At that point, you should be able to determine whether or not you can examine those files, those emails that you saved to DVD, and what it's then going to take.

It's possible even that you could use a trial version of Outlook; open those emails and potentially save them in a different format without necessarily having to purchase a full copy of Outlook.

I'm not sure on that, but it's something worth looking into.

Article C5303 - May 7, 2012 « »

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?

May 8, 2012 7:12 AM

It might be easier to try the DVD with a friend's computer where Outlook is installed. If this does not work it saves you the trouble of downloading, installing and then uninstalling a trial version of Outlook.
When you drag and drop an Outlook e-mail into a folder in Windows Explorer you get a .msg file.

May 8, 2012 4:09 PM

A couple of years ago, found the following procedure on a forum (I can't remember which one.) It worked like a charm for me (converting several thousand Outlook messages.)

First, download & install Mailstore Home from (Software is free.)


1) In Mailstore Home, select "Archive Email" and point to Outlook.
2) Export to "File System" using the eml format
3) Export to a directory such as C:\temp\email
4) In Live Mail use the Import Function
5) Select "Windows Mail" format
6) Select the directory such as C:\temp\email

Michael Scott
May 10, 2012 6:52 AM

Good stuff, thanks.
Now, how about a solution for transferring Outlook's Inbox contents over to my new Gmail account?

I'm actually not aware of an easy way to do that. "Uploading" existing email to a web-based email service is typically not available or at best not very easy. One approach would be to set up a PC based email client using IMAP to connect to Gmail, and then start copying email into folders in that client.
Michael Scott
May 11, 2012 6:03 PM

Good stuff, thanks.
Now, how about a solution for transferring Outlook's Inbox contents over to my new Gmail account?

Mark J
May 12, 2012 12:47 AM

You can configure Gmail to work with IMAP and set up your Outlook (or any email client) for IMAP Then, all of your emails will be synced between your email client and GMail. Your Gmail will download to Outlook and your Outlook's Inbox will upload to GMail.
Configuring your email client to work with IMAP on Google

March 11, 2013 10:22 AM

The information that you have provided in the above blog about moving outlook to new computer is very nice. Couple of day’s back I sold my old laptop, so I need to transfer my outlook profile to new computer system. Therefore, I am looking for best application, which should take back up and transfer my outlook profile to new laptop without altering the old setting because I do not know how to transfer outlook to a new computer. Can your product transfer my outlook profile to new computer system? i will be waiting for response

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