Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Outlook's file format changed from Outlook 2000 to Outlook 2003. Unfortunately upgrading your existing Outlook PST is not automatic, and not easy.
I keep bumping into the 2 gigabyte problem with my PST. While I know I should probably devise a way to keep my PST smaller in general, I understand the Outlook 2003's PST format doesn't have the same problems as the older formats. When I upgraded to Outlook 2003, shouldn't it have upgraded my file format? And how do I do it myself?
Apparently when you upgrade to Outlook 2003 it does not upgrade the format of your PST. Similarly many folks including myself make a habit of upgrading or installing Outlook with our "real" PST squirreled away for safety, only pointing Outlook at it when the installation or upgrade is complete.
Regardless of how you get there, how to upgrade your "primary" PST isn't at all obvious. In fact, it's a tad cumbersome.
Fortunately, it's not something you need to do often.
The only way to get an Outlook 2003-formatted PST is to have Outlook 2003 create it.
If you use multiple PST files, then for all PST's except your primary, you can simply create a new PST in Outlook 2003, copy the contents of the old PST into it, and close the old. Fairly simple, actually.
But your "primary" PST - which is the one that contains your default delivery inbox, calendar, contact list and more - is special.
When you create a new PST in Outlook 2003 it does not contain all the necessary folders to be your primary PST. And there's no easy way to switch over.
So here's the process I use. Although a little convoluted, it works and does a reasonably good job of preserving all the little settings that you might otherwise forget about along the way.
Backup your PST. You never know - something could go wrong.
Start Outlook and switch to "Folder" View
Create a new PST. Using Outlook 2003, we create a new PST in the new format.
In the File menu, click on New and then Outlook Data File.
Select "Office Outlook Personal Folders File (.pst)" as the type of storage.
Place it in the same folder on your hard disk as your primary PST.
Give it a reasonably descriptive Name: such as "Personal Folders (New)"
Select the Encryption you want (I typically choose "Compressible Encryption".)
"Swap" Filenames. Outside of Outlook, we swap the two PSTs.
Locate your old and new PST files on your hard disk. Remember that we created the new PST in the same folder as the old.
Note the file name of your old, primary PST. Write it down if you need to.
Rename your old PST file to a temporary name, like "old.pst".
Rename the new PST file to the name that the old PST used to have.
Rename the old PST file with its temporary name to the name that the new PST used to have before the preceding step.
Restart Outlook. It will come up with your new PST as the primary/default PST. It will also note that several of the "special" folders it needs are not present, and will create them.
Move your "non-special" folders. By non-special I mean those folders that perhaps you created and that have no special meaning to Outlook.
In each case you can simply drag and drop each folder from your old PST to your new one. If it's a top-level folder, drop it on top of "Personal Folders (New)" or whatever you named your new PST within Outlook.
Note that by default, folders are moved, not copied - which means that they'll be removed from the old PST after they've been placed in the new. You can avoid this and perform a true "copy" operation by holding down the Shift key when you drag and drop the folders.
Copy the contents of Special Folders.
Inbox: Outlook will have already created an inbox in your new PST. Copy the contents of your old inbox into the new. If you created sub-folders within your inbox, you'll need to copy each of those individually to your new inbox.
Sent items: Copy the contents to the Sent Items folder in your new PST, just like you did your Inbox.
Calendar: click on the calendar in your old PST. Then click on the View menu, Arrange By, Current View, and then click on List. Your calendar should now appear as a list. Select all, using CTRL+A, and now drag the calendar items from your old calendar list and drop them on the Calendar in the new PST.
Contacts: Much like you did with your calendar, click on your Contacts folder, select all with Ctrl+A, and then drag & drop the contact entries to the Contacts folder in your new PST.
Close the old PST. Right click on the old PST in the Folder View, and select Close.
Yes, it should be easier. I haven't yet tried Outlook 2007, but I hope it will be easier there. But for now, this should convert you to an Outlook 2003-formatted PST.
It did for me.
Comments on this entry are closed.
If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.
If you don't find your answer, head out to http://askleo.com/ask to ask your question.