You use outlook on a daily basis. It is used to send emails, make calendar events, create tasks, and other things. But do you ever wonder where and how all those things are kept? All your information for Microsoft 365, Exchange, and Outlook.com accounts is kept on the server, but an offline copy is also kept on your PC in an Offline Outlook Data File (.OST).
You could keep your Outlook items in an Outlook Data File for POP and IMAP accounts (.PST). You can easily access or close an Outlook Data File (.PST) by following a few straightforward steps.
Importing the whole backup file of emails into Outlook is time-consuming overkill if you just need to retrieve one email. Here’s how to browse a PST file’s contents in Microsoft Outlook without importing.
A smart option to create a long-term email archive and free up space in your email account is to back up your emails to a PST file. However, one potential problem is that accessing a specific email within a PST file without importing the entire file is not immediately clear.
Thanks to Outlook’s ability to open PST files without importing them, you can view their contents as though they were merely folders. You can read the messages, copy or move them into your account, delete, reply to, and forward them, as well as do anything else you can with regular emails, including establish a task or meeting.
- Start by launching Microsoft Office, clicking “File,” and then choosing Open & Export > Open Outlook Data File.
- Click “OK” after selecting the PST file you want to view.
The PST will show up as “Outlook Data File” at the bottom of the navigation window.
Like any other folder in Outlook, you can browse the PST’s folders. Even if you close and reload Outlook, you are free to leave the file open for as long as you choose. Because the messages in the PST file only reside in that file and not in your online account, this makes backup files particularly useful for minimising the volume of email in your inbox.
You can modify the default “Outlook Data File” name to something more meaningful if you have numerous PST files open or if you want to remind yourself what the file is.
- Go to the menu by right-clicking “Outlook Data File” and selecting “Data File Properties.”
- Select “Advanced” from the menu.
- Give the “Name” field a more interesting name.
- The name that appears in Outlook will be changed, not the PST file itself.
- By selecting “Change Password,” you can password-protect your PST file as well.
- By doing so, you can add a password in the “Change Password” dialogue window. This will prevent anyone from accessing the file without your password.
- The usual warning applies here: If you forget the password, you won’t be able to view the PST’s contents. Therefore, be sure to store your password in a secure location.
- In the “Change Password” dialogue box, click “OK,” and then on the following two panels, “OK.”
- Whatever you gave it a new name will now be known as the “Outlook Data File.”
- Removing the PST file if you no longer require it is just as simple as adding it. “Close [Folder Name]” can be chosen by right-clicking the file name.
- Microsoft Outlook keeps track of any name changes, so if you close the PST and open it again later, the name you gave it would appear instead of “Outlook Data File.”
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