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MSG vs PST File Format

The email file format can vary. It depends primarily on the email client where the files are created. But even the same email client can use different file types, depending on the content. Let's see what is the difference between MSG and PST, the two main Microsoft Outlook file formats, and how you can change one format to the other.

What is the MSG message format

MSG is an internal Microsoft Outlook format. It is used to store individual mailbox items. These can be messages, contacts, calendar events, journal entries, tasks, and notes.

One MSG file contains only one Outlook item with all its properties.

For saving and transferring scattered information from different Outlook mailboxes, the .msg file format is the most convenient and reliable.

What is the PST file format

PST is a Microsoft Outlook data file. It stores all information about the Outlook mailbox: messages, calendars, contacts, and other items.

PST is an internal Outlook format and cannot be opened or imported into other email applications.

PST data files are used for backups and archiving. You can store all mailbox data in them at once or selectively, segregating the files by type, date, or other attributes. Archived PST files are often created to organize messages or reduce the Outlook storage size.

What is the difference between MSG and PST


  • MSG files are designed to store, view, export and import individual Outlook mailbox items: one file for one message, contact or note, etc.
  • The PST format is used to store all Outlook mailbox data, including all item types, folder structure and settings.


  • MSG is a format supported only by Microsoft Outlook. These files cannot be created, opened, and saved in other email clients.
  • PST data files are Microsoft Outlook proprietary files and cannot be opened in other programs.


  • MSG files are designed for Outlook and can be opened in the Windows operating system.
  • You need a Windows desktop or laptop computer to work with PST files.

File contents

  • MSG files contain all fields and internal properties of messages and other Outlook mailbox items. Emails in MSG format contain unique Outlook fields that can be displayed in Windows Explorer and searched by their contents.
  • PST data file contains a complete copy of the entire mailbox or separate folders. It stores folder structure, rules, view settings, signatures, search folders, and other properties and settings, along with complete information about Outlook items.

Working with files in Outlook

  • All MSG files can be opened in Outlook by double-clicking. When an MSG email is dragged and dropped into Outlook, a normal copy of the message is created in the folder.
  • Since PST is Outlook's native format, it can be easily exported, viewed, and imported into the mailbox. You can use the built-in Outlook tools or special utilities with advanced settings to export or import PST files.

File sizes

How to convert MSG to PST

Here are the reasons you may need to convert MSG to PST:

  • It can be difficult to organize if you have a large archive of MSG files. The PST format provides more options for organizing messages and other items.
  • It is easier to transfer an Outlook archive to other users or another computer in a single data file.

How to export Outlook emails to PST manually

To change MSG to PST format with the built-in Outlook tools, you can import MSG items to Outlook and then export them to PST:

  1. Create a new folder in your Outlook mailbox.
  2. Transfer MSG files to the new folder by drag-and-drop or copy-and-paste.
  3. Export the new folder to a PST file using the Import and Export Wizard.

The manual method requires attention and is time-consuming, especially if you have many MSG files. If you need to add MSG items to an archived PST, you must import the PST into Outlook first, then transfer the MSG there.

Automatic MSG to PST conversion

Professional MSG to PST converter is a simple solution with various features to create PST from multiple MSG files or add MSG items to an existing PST file.
  • MSG to PST converter has no limitations and can convert multiple MSG to PST files without the threat of data loss.
  • This tool allows you to automatically create multiple PST files from MSG by using macros and dividing PST by size.
  • You can select MSG items to convert using ready-made filters.
  • Converted emails can be marked as unread. You can move converted MSG to another folder.
  • Besides the listed features, the professional version of the utility offers a command line app for batch and bulk import of MSG to PST.
MSG to PST Converter

How to convert PST to MSG

MSG is a separate Outlook item that can be extracted from a common PST data file. This may be necessary when transferring information from an account or backup to other users or another mailbox.

When you have a large PST file, it increases the chance of corruption and data loss. Here, it is better to use Outlook MSG format to store the information.

How to extract MSG from PST manually

You can extract items from a running Outlook PST file with current information by dragging and dropping them into the desired folder on your computer, creating MSG files. You can manually export Outlook items from an archive PST to MSG format in the following way:

  1. Open a PST file in Outlook from menu File > Open and Export > Open Outlook data file.
  2. Select the .pst file from which you want to extract data and click OK.
  3. After that, the selected PST will be opened in Outlook. You can extract the desired items from it to MSG using the drag and drop method.

Exporting MSG out of a PST file manually is inconvenient and time-consuming. This method does not allow you to save information about the original location of items in Outlook folders. The automatic solution saves your time and effort and offers additional features.

Automatic PST to MSG conversion

You can quickly and reliably save any data from PST to MSG format with PST to MSG converter. The advanced version of the software has no limitations on the number or size of source and destination files and offers additional features:

  • Saves perfect copies of Outlook items with all the properties in MSG files.
  • Exports items from one or multiple PST.
  • Maintains the original folder structure or creates a new one using macros.
  • Adds information for Windows Explorer to MSG files.
  • Provides different overwrite modes when duplicates are detected.
  • Contains filters for choosing Outlook items to convert: by type, by time period, by time of day, received or sent messages only.
  • Provides options to convert PST to MSG in bulk and create complex scripts using the command line tool.
PST to MSG Converter


Microsoft Outlook can store emails in different file formats. The MSG format is used to store and transfer individual items, while PST is used to store entire mailbox or folder information, to back up and transfer data.

Both formats are used only in the Outlook email application. This allows you to store and migrate complete information about mailbox items, including internal properties. To exchange files with other email client users, you must use special software to convert them to the appropriate format.

You can combine MSG files to PST or export PST to MSG using Outlook native tools, but these methods are inconvenient and very limited. We recommend professional utilities with advanced features to convert from MSG to PST and convert from PST to MSG.

Other utilities are useful when working with MSG and PST formats:

Not only Microsoft Outlook, but many other email clients use different formats to store individual messages and the entire contents of a mailbox or folder. The most common of these are the EML and MBOX formats, which we compared in our blog.

See also EML vs MSG and MBOX vs PST comparisons to see how these formats differ beyond the fact that they are used in different email systems. Other comparisons:


MSG or PST, which is better?

Choosing the format to save Outlook emails and other items depends on how many messages, contacts or entries you need to save and what you will do with them later.

  • If you need to keep information on a few individual mailbox items, it's more convenient to save those items in MSG format by simply dragging and dropping them into a Windows Explorer folder.
  • To keep multiple items together for transferring or backing up information, you should save them to a PST data file.

Is the Outlook data file the same as PST?

Yes, PST is an Outlook data file. MS Outlook uses two types of data files, PST and OST. Consider Outlook data file comparison to discover the difference between PST and OST.

How do I add thousands of MSG files into a single PST file?

With the MSG to PST converter, you can easily and quickly add any number of MSG files to existing PST data files or create a new PST.

How to extract emails from PST as .msg files while keeping the folder structure?

When you change MSG to PST manually, the folder hierarchy is not saved. You can save the original folder structure using the PST to MSG converter.

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