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Outlook Express, Windows Mail and Windows Live Mail store your email in a user-specific location that can be difficult to locate. We'll find it.

Can you please tell me in what folder the Outlook Express e-mails are stored? I am using Windows XP SP3.

Sure. I'll tell you where the probably are, but then I'll also tell you how you can find out where they definitely are yourself.

I'll do that last part for Windows Mail in Windows Vista, and then again for Windows Live Mail.

Your email folders are most probably stored in a folder with a name very much like the following:

C:\Documents and Settings\LeoN\
  Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\
  {4E103119-B317-4C55-A74A-4383576140DF}\
  Microsoft\Outlook Express
"The 'trick' is that you can click in it and move a cursor back and forth to reveal it all."

(I had to break it up so that it would fit, but that's one long path to a folder.)

The parts in red, (My login name, "LeoN", and "4E103119-B317-4C55-A74A-4383576140DF") are also almost certainly different in your case.

That's actually enough for you to go spelunking and find it on your own now, but let's do what I did to get that in the first place.

Let's let Outlook Express tell us.

Click on Tools, Options and then on the Maintenance tab. In the resulting dialog box, you'll see a Store Folder... button:

Outlook Express Maintenance Options, highlighting the Store Folder button

Click on Store Folder... and you'll get something very much like this:

Outlook Express Store Location

Now that's only showing us the first part of that incredibly long path. The "trick" is that you can click in it and move a cursor back and forth to reveal it all. In fact, you can click-and-drag to select the text completely, and then copy/paste it to somewhere else where you can see it completely.

Windows Vista

As I've already written about, Outlook Express is not available in Windows Vista, but the very Outlook Express-like program Windows Mail is.

To get the Windows Mail store location, once again go to the Tools menu, Options item, the Advanced tab on the resulting dialog, then click the Maintenance... button and you'll see the familiar Store Folder... button. In Windows Vista your Windows Mail store is likely in a folder similar to:

C:\Users\LeoN\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Mail

Windows 7

Outlook Express is also not available in Windows 7. In fact, there's no mail program at all by default. The Microsoft-recommended option is to download and install the once again very Outlook Express-like program Windows Live Mail.

To get the Windows Live Mail store location, type ALT+M to get the menu drop-down, click on the Options... menu item, the Advanced tab on the resulting dialog, then click the Maintenance... button and you'll see the familiar Store Folder... button. In Windows 7 your Windows Live Mail store is likely in a folder similar to:

C:\Users\LeoN\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Live Mail

Article C4072 - January 8, 2010 « »

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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.

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10 Comments
Mitts
January 12, 2010 10:27 AM

Leo, now that you have told us where to find the messges stored by Outlook Express, my question is, obviously there is alot of old "stuff" stored in that folder. Can these be cleaned right out? For simplicitys sake, like emptyimg out the Recycle Bin?
This technically challenged senior would like to know.

Thanks

In all honesty - I wouldn't. My experience with the questions I get is that Outlook Express's database is very fragile. Cleaning attempts often result in lost email and corrupt databases. Unless you have a specific problem you're trying to solve, I'd leave well enough alone.
Leo
14-Jan-2010

Stan Kern
January 12, 2010 1:01 PM

I am using Windows XP SP3. If my outlook express becomes corrupt, will replacing the identities folder restore not only the emails but also the addresses? If not how would I restore all information?

Harry Audus
January 12, 2010 3:21 PM

Useful info - thanks, Leo. I'm using Outlook 2003 on Vista. Should I migrate to Windows Mail? Will I get all the functionality of Outlook 2003, including the calendar functions? Would I be able to port my Outlook mail and calendar entries to Mail?

Outlook (not Outlook Express) is typically a larger and more powerful program than any of Outlook Express/Windows Mail/Windows Live Mail. In general, I suspect you'd be quite disappointed by changing.
Leo
14-Jan-2010

John Stevens
January 13, 2010 2:30 AM

I use Windows XP & Outlook Express 6
There are 3 Identities in OE 6
Two are working fine but all the folders & contents for one identity are not being displayed.
I get the toolbars & under the toolbars I get an advert from my ISP & a Google search box - nothing else.
If I go to VIEW & click on "Next Folder" I can see in the bottom left corner the number of emails & unread emails but they are not displayed.
Does anyone know how I can get the folders & folder contents back?
Thanks

DuLe
January 15, 2010 2:45 AM

Well, isn't this just dandy news!

I've been an AOhelL addict for 10 years. In the past year or so I've begun changing my email address for many of my contacts from AOL to me@myinternetserviceprovider. I access those emails, as well as all my newsgroups, via Outlook Express.

My PC crashed last weekend -- first crash in 10 years). (And no, Leo, I didn't have anything backed up. Thankfully nothing important was lost. But I *did* buy an external/portable HD this week. Now if only I had a *clue* which files to back-up/transfer.) Anyway, I got mad and ordered a new PC (Dell with Win7).

Now I learn that not only am I going to have to figure out a completely new OS but I'm gonna have to figure out a new way to access my mail and newsgroups?

Will this Microsoft madness never end?!? (Rhetorical question.)

BTW ...
1) My OE files/mail are NOT stored where OE says they are. In fact, the folder doesn't even exist! (So, where are they??) And
2) After my PC crash, reinstalling Windows (XP) and getting my OE up and running again I reinstalled AOL (I *still* can't live without it.) AOL 'hijacked' my OE. AOL replaced my OE desktop icon with one of its own and, clicking on it, opened AOL. I could not figure out how to get my OE back so (I probably did more than I needed to do) I uninstalled Win XP SP3, uninstalled AOL, and then re-ran Win Update. My OE reappeared and is working just fine. But I don't have AOL, I miss my little buddy, and am seriously wondering if I should even consider installing it on my new computer.

Thanks for listening to my cathartic rant!

Anthony
January 18, 2010 7:32 AM

Is there a similar way to find the Microsoft Office Outlook files

Already an article on that: Where is my Outlook "PST" file located? - in fact that article was even listed in the related links for this one.
Leo
18-Jan-2010

Alex Netherton
January 19, 2010 11:58 AM

A very good Outlook Express/Windows Mail/Windows Live Mail alternative is Mozilla Thunderbird, found at I am surprised you didn't mention it...


zebaakhtar
May 11, 2010 7:39 AM

wonderful I don't believe such type of magic. I was unable to search the outlook folder. very helpful indeed.

Sherman Unkefer
January 4, 2011 8:02 AM

How do I transfer my read Outlook (not Outlook Express) emails to my new PC where I will use BT Yahoo! mail?

thanks

stuart beilby
January 7, 2011 7:13 PM

I have windows 7 on my present computer as well as the previous one. On first computer I had Outlook Express but don't know how to install it on my present computer. I have been told it can't be done but as I said I had it on the previous computer which had Windows 7. There are lots of Motels who only use Outlook Express so when travelling I have to make phone calls which is a nuisance at times. Can you help me
Stuart B.

Outlook Express is not available for Windows 7: please read this article: Where is Windows Mail, or Outlook Express, in Windows 7?
Leo
11-Jan-2011

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