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PST File Format


Related utilities

What is a PST file?

PST (Personal Storage Table) data files store messages, contacts, calendars, tasks, other Microsoft Outlook items, and their properties.

What data are in the PST file?

  • A PST file contains a folder structure that stores various Outlook items: messages, contacts, appointments, meetings, tasks, notes, journal entries, documents, and files. Folders in PST files can be of diverse types to store the appropriate Outlook items.
  • Besides the folders and Outlook items themselves, PST files store their properties and field values.
  • PST also stores rules for processing incoming and outgoing messages, view settings, signatures, search folders, etc.

To view the list .pst and .ost files, and other stores connected to your Outlook profile, use the report on Outlook stores and data files.

You can add images and documents to a PST file by simply dragging and dropping them into Outlook folders one by one. To add many different files while preserving the original folder structure, use the utility for importing documents and files to Outlook.

How to create a PST file?

On the Outlook ribbon, click the New Items and select the More Items > Outlook Data File in the menu. Click the OK button. Enter the name for the new PST file and click the OK. You can also create a PST file in Outlook account settings. To do this, go to the Data Files tab in the Account Settings window and click the Add button.

To create PST files containing copies of messages, contacts, calendars, and other items from Outlook folders and mailboxes, export Outlook data to PST files.

Export Outlook to PST

Sometimes you need to create a new PST file out of several. For example, when merging multiple email archives. Creating such a combined file manually using Outlook is difficult. To create a single consolidated PST file from multiple .pst files, simply use our PST merge tool.

To create Outlook PST files from individual message files, use the utilities for converting MSG to PST and EML to PST.

How to reduce the size of a PST file?

Over time, .pst files get larger, and Outlook performance degrades. You can keep the reasonable PST size by deleting unnecessary data or archiving outdated items. This will ensure maximum productivity when working with email, calendars, and contacts.

There are several ways to solve the problem:

After deleting unnecessary data, compress Outlook PST data file to reduce its size on a disk.

How big can a PST file be?

By default, PST files have size limits of up to 20GB in Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007 versions and up to 50GB in Outlook 2010 and later. If the file reaches the limits, you can no longer send, copy, or move messages in Outlook, and receive new messages without cleaning up your mailbox.

You can use ReliefJet Outlook Tweaker to change PST files' maximum size and enable or disable automatic compression of PST files when exiting Outlook.

Outlook Tweaker

Where is PST file located in MS Outlook?

You can store .pst files anywhere on your disk. The default location of PST files depends on your Outlook and Windows versions:

  • Outlook 2007 and earlier on Windows XP:
    %UserProfile%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook
    E.g.: C:\Documents and Settings\UserName\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook
  • Outlook 2007 and earlier on Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10:
    E.g.: C:\Users\UserName\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook
  • Outlook 2010 on Windows XP:
    %UserProfile%\My Documents\Outlook Files
    E.g.: C:\Users\UserName\My Documents\Outlook Files
  • Outlook 2010, Outlook 2013, Outlook 2016, Outlook 2019 and Microsoft 365 on Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 10:
    %UserProfile%\Documents\Outlook Files
    E.g.: C:\Users\UserName\Documents\Outlook Files

If Outlook PST file still missing

To locate the folders of your PST files, go to the list of Outlook data files connected to your profile

  • in Outlook 2007:
    File > Manage Data Files
  • in Outlook 2010/2013/2016/2019 and Microsoft Office 365:
    File > Account Settings > Account Settings > Data Files

Regardless of the Outlook version, running our reports is a universal way to locate OST/PST data files.

Outlook OST/PST File Report

How to open a .pst file?

PST files can only be opened in Outlook for Windows. To access the contents of .pst files in other programs, you need to convert the data files to a suitable format.

How do I open PST file in other email applications?

To open your PST files in another email client, you need to convert them to a supported format. For example, convert PST to MBOX format. MBOX format is supported by many mail programs.

Another way is to convert PST to EML format when each message is saved to a separate file. Besides the fact that the EML format is also widespread, this method has the additional advantage: if one message file gets damaged, the rest of the mail will be saved.

PST file corruption is a widespread problem

Remember that PST files often fail, and it is difficult or impossible to restore a .pst file. Even storing data in clouds and on servers does not solve the accidental corruption of Outlook folders and items in PST files. Timely backup of PST files ensures reliability and availability of information.

When a PST data file gets damaged, the main threat is the loss of all your messages, attachments, and mailbox settings at once. A reliable way to ensure the safety of the other messages if one gets corrupted, is to convert PST to EML format, PST to MSG format, PST to PDF format, or PST to HTML format, depending on how you plan to view the saved files.


Why do I need to import PST files?

You may need to import PST files to Outlook:

  • When transferring data from one Outlook account to another.
  • When exchanging Outlook data between computers.
  • When migrating data between Exchange Server, Microsoft Office 365, Gmail, IMAP, POP3, and other mailboxes.
Import PST to Outlook

How to open a PST file without Outlook and other apps?

  • To read PST file, view and print emails while preserving the formatting, the .pst data file can be converted to HTML. It is a convenient format for viewing on all platforms, including smartphones and legacy devices. You can also share messages with other users by saving them to .html files and ensuring the recipient is guaranteed to open and print them.

The added benefit of converting messages from PST to HTML is another way to back up PST email messages to guarantee their safety even if one of emails is accidentally damaged, as opposed to PST format. In addition, the safety of attachment files and images, even those contained in links to external Internet resources, is ensured.

  • Email messages in PST format can be converted to Adobe PDF document format to view files with attachments and external images using PDF viewers or a modern Internet browser.
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