Migrate from Outlook Express to Windows Mail

In our previous article we presented the new Windows Mail and its features. We also made a step by step tutorial on how to create your first e-mail account in Windows Mail. Today we will show you how to manually migrate all your e-mail accounts, messages and your address book from Outlook Express to Windows Mail. As you will see for yourself, the procedure is not very complicated even though it might take you some time to do it.

This article in split in two parts. The first part covers the export procedure that you need to perform in Outlook Express and the second one explains how to import everything in Windows Mail.

Outlook Express

First, you need to start Windows XP and launch Outlook Express. If you have a dual-boot configuration (Windows XP and Windows Vista) you should export everything to a location that is accessible from both operating systems. If you have Windows XP installed and you plan to erase it and upgrade to Windows Vista, we recommend that you save everything to a back-up disk and import from it later, after you install Windows Vista.

Exporting the Address Book

Go to the File menu, select Export and click on Address Book.

Outlook Express

The Address Book Export Tool will be launched. Select the second option – Text File (Comma Separated Values) – and click on the Export button.

Outlook Express

You will be asked to select the path where you want to export your Address Book. Click on Browse, go to the folder where you want to save your Address Book, type the name of the file in which it will be saved and click the Save button.

The CSV Export window will open. Here you will have to select which contact details you want to export. Select the ones you want or, for more safety, select all the fields and then press the Finish button.

Outlook Express

The Address Book has now been exported to the chosen location.

Exporting E-mail Accounts Settings

In Outlook Express, go to the Tools menu and then select Accounts.

Outlook Express

A window with all your internet accounts will be opened. Go to the Mail tab and from the list of e-mail accounts select the first you want to export. Click on it and then press Export. You will choose the folder and the file name where your settings will be exported. After that, click on Save.

Outlook Express

Repeat this procedure for all the e-mail accounts you want to export to Windows Mail.

Exporting E-mail Messages

Go to Tools and then select Options.

Outlook Express

Go to the Maintenance tab and click on the Store Folder button.

Outlook Express

A small window will open and you will see the location where Outlook Express stores all your e-mail messages. Copy that location, close Outlook Express, open that location in Windows Explorer and then copy all the content to a different location.

Outlook Express

If you have a lot of messages, the process will take quite some time to finish.

IMPORTANT:Make sure none of the files you are backing up are “Read only” otherwise when you start the import, it will fail.

Windows Mail

After you have finished the export process, reboot and start or install Windows Vista. When you are ready to import all your e-mail accounts, messages and address book to Windows Mail, go to the Start Menu – All Programs and launch its shortcut.
IMPORTANT: during the importing process we recommend that you run Windows Mail as an administrator. If you do not run it as an administrator the import process might fail.

Start Menu

Importing the Address Book

In Windows Mail, go to the File menu, select Import and then Windows Contacts.

Windows Mail

In the Import to Windows Contacts window, select the first option – CSV (Comma Separated Values) – and press the Import button.

Windows Mail

Now you have to Browse to the file where you exported the Address Book from Outlook Express and then press Open. When you are done press Next.

Windows Mail

In the CSV Import window choose the fields you want to import. If you are not sure which fields to select, select all of them and press the Finish button.

Windows Mail

Now the Address Book has been moved from Outlook Express to Windows Mail.

Importing E-mail Accounts Settings

First, go to Tools -> Accounts. In the Internet Accounts window, press the Import button.

Windows Mail

Now you have to browse to the location where you exported your e-mail accounts settings and select the file containing those settings.

Windows Mail

Repeat this procedure for all your e-mail accounts. All the restored accounts settings will be listed in the Internet Accounts window.

Windows Mail

Importing E-mail Messages

Go to the File menu, select Import and then click on Messages.

Windows Mail

In the Windows Mail Import window, you need to select the third option – Microsoft Outlook Express 6 – and click on Next.

Windows Mail

Select Import mail from an OE6 store directory and press the OK button.

Windows Mail

Now you have to browse to the folder where you exported all your e-mail messages, click the Select folder button which takes you to the next screen at which point you then press Next.
IMPORTANT: Some of our readers reported having a duplicate node problem. Before pressing Next, check that the folder displayed does not contain duplicate nodes.

Windows Mail

Select the message folders you want to import and press Next.

Windows Mail

After the import is finished, the wizard will show a Import Complete message. Press the Finish button.

Windows Mail

Now all your e-mail messages from Outlook Express will be available in Windows Mail. By default, all your imported messages will be placed in the Imported Folder. You can move them to any other folder using the drag and drop procedure.

Windows Mail

UPDATE:Due to the huge numbers of comments on this article we removed the create comment option. If you need help or you want to post a comment please go to our forum and use the Outlook Express to Windows Mail – ISSUES Topic.

Related articles:
Windows Mail
Windows Mail keyboard shortcuts
Where are the e-mail identities?
How to migrate to Outlook 2007 & Windows Vista
Backup your Outlook Inbox
How to setup an e-mail account in Outlook 2007

61 thoughts on “Migrate from Outlook Express to Windows Mail”

  1. Thanks
    I have been through this before vista but I always need you guy’s to come thru with step by step instructions…life is so busy I can’t remeber every thing. Thank you for all your hard work


  2. Excellent
    My only comment concerns the step when importing into Windows Mail, and you need to browse to the folder containing the email-messages. I found that you should not browse to the folder containing the exported .dbx files; but rather should you browse to the folder above it.

  3. OMG THX!!!
    Seriously you have no idea how much time I wasted f*^&ing about with Outlook and OE, then I realise I just want to use Windows Mail, find this page, it works and hey two months after I got my new PC I can actually get my old emails on it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    BIG thanks again.

  4. but when you have exported
    but when you have exported your outlook express adressbook from xp to vista’s microsoft mail they don’t have the right order anymore and you can not find your adresses anymore……

  5. YAY — but importing messages
    you need to browse to folder above the mbx files. That’s the only problem I had after I found your wonderful instructions. THANK YOU.

  6. Thanks….but add a note please
    A note not to double click the last folder in the tree would be Very helpful.
    One click too many and it looks like a folder that doesn’t contain the right file type, or is empty.


  7. Doubled-up folder
    I found that the folder MS-Mail was looking in for messages was called:
    F:Backup FolderBackup Folder
    instead of just
    F:Backup Folder
    You can’t manually edit the path (you can only browse), so I made another
    folder of the same name below the original one, moved the files into the
    new lower folder, pointed MS-Mail’s import at the first folder and everything
    finally worked.
    Mail Import: another fine Microsoft product thoroughly tested before
    release… NOT!

  8. export OE data to Vista
    Good info, however some of us are still using Win98SE, (yeah, I know), and this doesn’t work. I found that by selecting all emails in each folder, then drag and move to a folder on USB drive or external HDD, then opening that folder in Vista explorer and do the reverse drag and drop. Bit more work, but works very well.

  9. No longer have Outloook – just the files
    This looks like it will work fine if you’re upgrading, but I’ve got a new PC with Vista installed, and I’ve got my old files from my previous computer, which was running XP with Outlook. It’s too late for me to export it.

    Is there any way for Mail to read the Outlook file?

    • Just follow the same
      Just follow the same procedure for the import. It will work. You don’t need to have Windows XP installed. You need only the old Outlook Express folders and files.

      • Don’t have Outlook either
        My original message was that I have NEITHER Outlook nor XP, just a dead PC with a fried motherboard, and the outlook.pst file recovered from the disk.

        Your first step is to open Outlook. Can’t do it. It’s gone.

        So, now what?

        • Jump to the import process
          Sorry for the late reply. I was very busy these days.

          In this case the procedure is rather awkward: if you have the outlook.pst file you need to install Microsoft Outlook and import the e-mail messages from this file.
          In the Windows Mail Import window, you need to select the second option – Microsoft Outlook – instead of the third and then click on Next.

  10. don’t have outlook or OE installed
    Yes same problem as the chap above. I had to buy a new computer with vista and windows mail installed when mine died. I can recover from my old hard drive, which i’ve installed as an extra temporaily to recover data, and all the files are there but I keep getting

    ‘Messages cannot be imported from the MAPI client’
    ‘ An Error has Ocurred’ when I try for outlook importing and files not found when I try with OE
    I have even moved the files off the hard drive and put them into a folder but still no joy or with the contact list either
    any clues please

  11. Success at last!
    Thanks to your clear & concise step by step instructions, I was able to migrate from Outlook Express 6 on a Windows 98 machine to Windows Mail on Vista. Perhaps the difference was was in following your instruction on the Import side to open Windows Mail with ‘Run as administrator’. I found that I could not find that option simply right-clicking on the E-mail option always in the start menu, but had to first select All Programs and right-click Windows Mail. Also when browsing for the OE6 Store Location to import messages, I had to start over at one point because the import wizard was adding duplicate nodes, thus creating a file path that didn’t exist. Otherwise it went very smoothly. Thank you!

    • dbx Files not found
      I have a strange situation transferring from 98 to Vista. The files are on my Vista system, the folders.dbx one is there, they’re all dbx files, yet, when I’m importing and browse to the folder, it shows that there are no files of the type it’s looking for. I’m not getting the directory duplicate nodes issue, I’ve tried with all files set to read only and not read only and there’s no difference. I ran as administrator and the standard user, still no difference — any ideas please?

      • This is because the
        This is because the instructions are not completely accurate — the instruction that states:
        “Now you have to browse to the folder where you exported all your e-mail messages and then press Next.” should read:
        “Now you have to browse to the folder where you exported all your e-mail messages, click the ‘select folder’ button which takes you to the next screen at which point you then press Next.” Before pressing Next, check that the folder displayed does not show the duplicate node problem.

        • Thank you!
          Thank you all for your feedback. We updated the article according to your suggestions. Hopefully, people will have less trouble with the e-mail import procedure.

  12. why the *** do we have to go
    why the *** do we have to go though such a convoluted procedure? why can’t microsoft provide a tool… oh yes, they do, it’s called ‘windows easy transfer’… only it doesn’t do anything useful like migrating outlook.

    I have had vista for one day and to say I am un impressed is a major understatement.

  13. Outlook Express to Outlook 2007
    Do you have a similar set of instructions on how to migrate from Outlook Express on XP to Outlook 2007 on Vista? I think I will take the opportunity of having bought a new computer to bypass Windows Mail and utilize Outlook 2007 instead.


  14. just wanted to say thanks.
    just wanted to say thanks. I’d been surfing for days trying to find a guide on how to move my 3 years of emails onto my new vista laptop. Really appreciate your guide – it was simple and concise and, well, just perfect.
    Thanks again

  15. Double Thanks
    I have just followed the instructions with great success. Love the pictures, makes it so much clearer. Have also just had a quick scan through the site and am well impressed, I can see I shall be a regular visitor. I actually like Vista and am so far quite happy.
    Thanks again

  16. Too complex for me to decipher
    For many of us who are not extremely computer proficient, I found that the instructions were not simple enough for me to follow. Now I’m stuck without having my Outlook Express local folders on Microsoft Mail. Bummer.

  17. Still Not Working
    I think that I have followed your instructions properly, but I still can’t see my emails. I tries windows easy transfer and I saw me emails briefly, but no more. I have tried importing the .dbx emails to windows mail, but I can’t see them. I have tried to copy them manually to the Windows Mail folder, but no luck. I wasn’t sure what you meant when you wrote export emails from outlook express. Do you actually export them or copy them. I tied both, but I couldn’t find any exported emails. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks, Stuart.

    • Read again
      Try to read the Export Mail instructions again and follow them. I don’t know how I can reformulate the text to make it clearer.

      PS: By exporting I mean copying the old e-mails to a new folder on your hard disk.

  18. outlook emails to window mail
    i bought a new computer with the windows vista. i have access to my old hardrive, but i do not have outlook express anymore. is it possible to get my old emails/contacts from my hardrive? i started to follow the instructions, but realized without the access to outlook express email, that i was up against a more difficult task. just need to know if it is even possible or am i just wishful thinking????

    • Find…
      You need to find the location of your e-mail messages. Try to search your old “C:” drive for “*.dbx” files and see where they are placed and import those in Windows Mail.

      The default location is “C:Documents and SettingsLocal SettingsApplication DataIdentities{GUID}MicrosoftOutlook Express” where {GUID} is the Global Unique IDentifier (technical jargon for a unique long number) used to specify an Identity.

  19. .PST
    Dear Sir

    Can you confirme me if that procedure is the same for import files like backup.pst.

    Because i tryed and when i select the program Microsoft Outlook it retrieve “Is not possible import messages from client MAPI” and when i tryed Microsoft Outlook 6 i can go to find and when i select the file that contains de backup.pst it says that “it is not possible localize messages in this file may be it is being executed on other apliccation (it is not true) that have the necessarie files open. Select another file or try to close the apllications that can have the file open”

    Can you help me with that?

    Many thanks in advance

    PS: My Vista is in portuguese i tryed to translate sorry if i was not quiet clear.

  20. export windows mail to outlook express
    how can i get and find the exported windows mail messages. i cant seem to find where windows mail exported the messages to. i need to transfer my windows mail messages to another pc using outlook express.


    • More details
      Windows Mail exports e-mail messages to the location specified by you. The messages should be where you requested. Could you please give us more details?

  21. Great directions … BUT!!!
    I did everything fine up until I was to import messages. Saved them to an external hard drive. Hooked the drive up to the Vista computer. Browsed to the folder in the “import messages” portion of the instructions, and the computer said “no files of the type you desire” … or words to that effect! The .dbx files are there, but the Vista computer Windows Mail Wizard doesn’t see them. Any suggestions?

    • Maybe this helps
      Another user had a similar problem and also found the solution. Maybe this helps:

      I found that the folder MS-Mail was looking in for messages was called:
      F:Backup FolderBackup Folder
      instead of just
      F:Backup Folder
      You can’t manually edit the path (you can only browse), so I made another
      folder of the same name below the original one, moved the files into the
      new lower folder, pointed MS-Mail’s import at the first folder and everything
      finally worked.
      Mail Import: another fine Microsoft product thoroughly tested before
      release… NOT!

  22. OE6 to Vista
    I copied the Inbox.dbx file to an external hard drive. I cannot seem to find the file on the external hard drive when I try to import it into Windows Mail. I can find the EHD easily but it won’t show all the folders. I am sure it is simple but I have not gotten it yet.


  23. migrating to Windows Mail
    Hi. I used a Belkin usb cable and the Windows Easy Transfer program to input all my old folders. However, Windows Mail does not display the emails. It imported the folders just fine, and next to each folder is the number of messages. But the messages themselves are ‘invisible’. Any recommendations?


  24. Excellent help
    Your instructions were clear and to the point and the conversion worked 1st time.
    Thank you very much for the excellent help in migrating my Outlook Express to Vista Windows Mail.


  25. automatically completing email addresses
    Is there a way that Vista can auto-complete email addresses ? I find that it will, but only to a limited extent. With XP, It worked great. You could just type in the 1st or 2nd letter of the email, and see all the addresses.

  26. Import can find the dbx files
    When i point to the folder where the .dbx files are located the import cannot find them. I’ve tried it many times and in different way. But with the same result. The files are in C:Outlook. I’ve selected just c: . When i select c:outlook, it changes it to c:outlookoutlook. Thanks.

  27. From Windows Mail Vista to OE6
    Need help.

    What about exporting from Windows Mail to OE6 – downgrading? My Vista crashed last week, but I managed to save my mails. I need all these mails to be imported to my notebook which is currently running OE6. I have no intention in re-installing vista for now (after the crash, not so soon I guess) so I need to get all the mails to my OE6 but I just dont know how.

    What should I do? Please help.


    • The *.eml files can be read
      The *.eml files can be read by Outlook Express…so you need to manually recreate the folders you had in Windows Mail within OE6, then drag the relevant emails from the directories you saved following your system crash into the folders in IE6.

      I’ve decided to go back to XP because Vista sucks!

  28. Thank You Kindly!
    A new place for me to actually solve problems! Thank you so much for the info and if you need a hand at all, I owe it to you folks!

  29. Windows Mail Vista
    I am English but Vista does not seem to recognise (not recognize) my language. I am NOT an american and when sending official material in my own country it is very irritating to have to be corrected into a foreign language which is then seen by my colleagues as an inability in myself, to spell correctly. Is there now, or ever going to be, a solution? Or will Vista become another Millenium Edition (failure).

  30. Importing Rules from OE to Windows Mail
    Great job..Is there a way i can import all rules to Windows Mail. I have almost 200 to 300 mail rules defined

  31. Probs importing *.iaf files into windows mail
    Thanks for these instructions. I knew how to do all of this, however, your instructions
    to import outlook express 6 email acccounts do not work here.

    I’ve been to microsoft web site to seek an answer how to cure this ongoing error
    i receive stating that an error occurred when importing the email accouts.

    Do you have any other solutions/work arounds please?

    Thanks kindly 🙂

  32. Importing messages from OE to Windows Mail
    I followed your instructions for messages without success. Maybe because I’m not upgrading software rather upgrading computers. My old computer is XP with OE 6. My new computer is Vista with Windows Mail. The file on my removeable disk is inbox.dbx, but the import function in Windows Mail can’t see it. It sees other folders but not that one. Any suggestions?

  33. Migrate Outlook Express to Vista
    Spending hours and hours following your instructions and reading and trying all of the reactions, my .dbx files were not seen by Vista.
    It proved to be necessary that the folders.dbx file is present !!
    Even when you want to transfer only one folder (incoming.dbx for instance) you need the folders.dbx as well.
    This solved my problem.
    By the way: do not EXPORT from Outlook express, just COPY the necessary .dbx files !!

  34. XP outlook to XP outlook express and then to Vista windows mail
    I used outlook on XP, not outlook express. I opened outlook express for the first time after reading this and other similar guides (Thanks, by the way!). I zipped the directory on my XP machine that OEX made with the dbx files it made from reading my outlook.pst file. I brought them to Vista and tried to import the messages. All I got was “no messages found or some other program has them opened” errors. I tried many things, zipping several levels above the dbx files, many silly things, but nothing worked. Since I was an outlook 2003 user, outlook express read my .pst file and made a bunch of dbx files from my contacts and empty (I think) notes, journals and other non-mail stuff in the pst file. I finally just deleted all non-mail files in outlook express and then emptied the deleted file folders. This time I copied the directory above the dbx without zipping first, and the import into Vista windows mail worked. I think it was the contacts and other non-mail files that caused the error, but it could have been my trusty friend winzip.

  35. Outlook Express 5 to Windows mail
    I can confirm that the instructions work exacly the same for importing outlook express 5 (even using the “import mail from an OE6 directory” option).
    Moving from windows 95 to Vista has been made a whole lot easier thanks to this site. I’m glad it came up near the top of the google search “outlook express windows mail”.

  36. Exporting E-mail Accounts Settings IMPORTANT
    Before exporting email account settings, make sure the “always connect to this account using” box is UNCHECKED!! After importing email account settings, Windows Mail hangs if you go to the account properties, connection tab, if this connection does not exist in Vista (It’s the connection name that’s important, needs to be named identically).

    If you have already imported the email account settings, you can always create this connection, only the name needs to be correct – rest of connection info is not needed – make it up. Then go back into windows mail and to the account properties, connection tab and change the setting to a working connection in Vista (or uncheck the box). Then go back and remove the connection.

    Only problem is I haven’t found a way of seeing the name that is in the “always connect to this account using” drop down box because it hangs before displaying the connection tab. So you need to know it or find it on your old system/computer

    There must be a technical way to see this field – I guess without running windows mail? Anyone know?

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