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I have an outlook 2002 PST file. This old format has problems like a 2 GB size limit. I wanted to convert to a more modern PST format (unicode) which doesn't have this issue.

MS's site says there's no direct conversion, but you can create a new unicode PST, then export all the messages from the old ansi PST into it. So I followed the steps on this page: -->

The problem is this doesn't seem to truly merge or import the messages. Outlook now shows two inboxes, and I have two separate PSTs in C:\Documents and Settings\user_id\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook seems to be keeping track of the both PSTs, with the new one having no messages (and no size limit problems) and the old one having all the messages I wanted to keep (but also the size limit).

How can I get my old messages into the newly-made PST that doesn't have a size limit?

edit: The program linked in the accepted answer kept crashing with a runtime error (terminated unusual way blah blah blah)... both on a windows7 and XP machine. An alternate freeware program worked ok, with some minor hassles -

After converting with it, you can replace an existing outlook.pst with the converted file. But it names your personal folder (top level of your mailbox) something like "made with WinPST" and you can't rename it. And you get a mysterious duplicate personal folder that has identical inboxes, subfolders, etc. (new messages show up in both inboxes). Outlook's data files section shows only one PST (plus archive.pst which can be ignored). To delete the duplicate personal folder, I had to do some convoluted steps. Back up your existing converted PST if you haven't already. Create a new data file (control panel --> mail --> data files --> add --> choose the newer format --> give it a name --> click OK). Set outlook to send new messages to this data file (control panel --> mail --> view or change existing email accounts --> change "deliver new mail to" so that it goes to your newly made data file). Finally, run outlook, go into tools --> options --> mail setup --> data files --> click on the outlook.pst (not the new one we just made) and click remove/delete. Yeah, we're nuking the file you successfully converted. You backed it up right? Somehow, rather than deleting all your messages etc., they stay and you delete only the duplicate personal folder. Close and reopen outlook to confirm.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

It's been a while since I used Outlook XP/2002, but it should probably give you a way to Export the mail as something more generic than PST, like say a .CSV (plain-text, Comma Separated Values), as Outlook 2007 & 2010 support importing CSV's. You'll probably have to do your mail, contacts, etc. each separately.

If that's no good, then there is software out there to help you convert/upgrade PSTs; For example: Systools' PST Upgrade Tool.

SysTools Software offers simple yet powerful PST Conversion tool to convert Ansi PST to Unicode PST and Vice versa. Software efficiently performs:

  • Conversion of Ansi PST (MS Outlook Outlook 2000/2002/XP) to Unicode PST (MS Outlook 2003/2007)
  • Conversion of Unicode PST (MS Outlook 2003/2007) to Ansi PST (MS Outlook 2000/2002/XP)
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I'm hoping that this systool program works as advertised, I don't even see a demo limitation so this might be really easy. Thanks very much. – CreeDorofl Nov 21 '11 at 18:30

Here is very good step-by-step guide how to move files from old ANSI .pst file to new Unicode file. It doesn't require any commercial/trial software or .csv export/import.

To convert the ANSI formatted pst-file to UNICODE, you must do this manually to preserve the correct dates of the archived data. While the process is quite easy, it is tedious though, especially if you have a large pst-file and lots of folders directly below the root folder. Note: Importing all the folders automatically (instead of manually moving folders) from the ANSI pst file to the new Unicode pst file will change the dates of the stored data, emails, etc. This may have legal ramifications for the user’s data.

  1. To be safe, make a backup of your pst-file that you want to convert first.
  2. Create a new pst-file by; • Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007 File-> New-> Outlook Data File… • Outlook 2010 Home tab-> button New Items-> More Items-> Outlook Data File…
  3. When prompted (Outlook 2003 and 2007 only), select "Office Outlook Personal Folders File (.pst)" and press OK
  4. When using Outlook 2003 or 2007, a new dialog pops up where you can specify the display name, encryption settings (not recommended unless you have a very specific need to do so) and optionally set a password on the pst-file.
  5. Switch to the Folder List Navigation (CTRL+6). This will make it easier to also copy your Calendar, Contacts, Journal Tasks and Notes folders.
  6. Now move all the folders from the ANSI pst-file to the newly created UNICODE pst-file. You can do this by drag & drop or right-click and move. This copy also copies all the subfolders.

Previous answer doesn't work for me, because Systools' PST Upgrade Tool is not free now and trial version converts 15 files per forder only. My ANSI .pst file was about 1.8 Gb.

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