Where Does Outlook Store Contacts?

By Pam Durant

You’ve just grabbed one of the latest new laptop deals at your favorite electronics superstore. Now you’d like to pass on its predecessor to your back-to-school teen. But before you can make the swap, you need to transfer all 300 of your Microsoft Outlook contacts from the old laptop to the new one. If this task poses a challenge, chances are you don’t know where Outlook is storing your information.


Microsoft Outlook is the personal information manager application that is part of the Microsoft Office 2007 suite. Across the four major categories of Outlook, you can electronically manage your email, calendar, task list and contacts. Over time, Outlook can compile a goldmine of data for your business if used frequently. Whether you’re transferring existing Outlook data to a new computer or simply looking to do a backup, understanding where Outlook stores what you type will be helpful.

Locating the File

All your Outlook data—not just your contacts—is stored in your Outlook .pst file (the .pst extension represents the term \"personal storage\"). Here’s a quick way to find the full path for your .pst file’s location:From any view in Outlook 2007, choose \"Data File Management\" from the \"File\" menu. An \"Account Settings\" dialog box will appear, with the \"Data Files\" tab enabled. Next to \"Personal Folders,\" you will see the full path and filename of your Outlook .pst file. Your .pst file will be buried about five folders deep under your root C:\\ drive if it was created using the default location. To easily navigate your way to the file, click on the “Open Folder” link directly above the path and filename. This will immediately open up the folder containing your .pst file in a new window.

File Management — Backup Your Data

If you’d like to make a backup copy of your .pst file, you must exit Outlook first, then copy the entire file onto a removable flash drive (right-click on the filename, choose \"Send To\" and click on the drive letter representing your flash drive). If you want to verify the size of the file before copying it, simply hover over the filename with your mouse. A small screen tip will appear, showing the file type, size and last date modified.

File Management — Retrieve the Backup

Open a new \"My Computer\" window (\"Start\" button, \"Computer\") and double-click the drive letter for your removable drive. Copy the .pst file from the flash drive by right-clicking on it and choosing \"Copy.\"

File Management — Paste the Backup

Now launch Outlook on the new computer and go to \"Data Management\" on the \"File\" menu. Click on the \"Open Folder\" link and then exit Outlook as soon as the new window opens. Right-click and paste anywhere inside of that window to overwrite the contents of the existing Outlook .pst file. You will have to rename the original .pst file before performing this action if there's any Outlook data on the new computer that you don’t want to overwrite.