I have a home computer that only has a 15Gb C: drive, and ran out of space with all the Microsoft Updates, etc, that keep coming down. So I fitted a 160Gb drive as a C: drive and altered the drive jumpers to make the old C: drive into a slave D: drive, to save migrating documents, etc.

I've installed a clean copy of Windows XP SP3 and reassigned the new Outlook Express' mailstore path to point to the old mailstore folder that now has a D: drive letter - and it all works OK.

However, my extensive list of mail rules have not been transferred to the new OE and I have not been able to identify how they are stored. To find it I added a new rule to the new OE, exited OE, then searched on the whole computer (including hidden/system files) for files altered around the time I added the rule. I hoped I could just overwrite a new empty file with an old one.

But the only files that seem to be changed are Windows system-level files and some bits and pieces in the Windows\PreFetch sub-folder. None of them can be opened as XP has them locked, and none of them have names that are anything to do with email or rules.

Does anyone know of any way of migrating OE rules, or do I have to re-enter them by hand?


Stay away from Outlook Express. Thunderbird is very nice. Even Windows Live Mail, the successor of Outlook Express, is good.

...Back to the question.

Windows programs almost always store their configuration in the registry, so a file search can't find them.

SysInternal's Process Monitor can display all filesystem and registry operations, and shows that Outlook Express stores its settings in the following area of the registry:

HKCU\Identities\{uuid}\Software\Microsoft\Outlook Express\5.0\Rules

where {uuid} is a randomly assigned UUID of the identity.

(Identities are a legacy of Windows 9x, where almost everybody shared a single system account between all users.)

If you still have your old profile directory (the one in Documents and Settings), it will have a file NTUSER.DAT in it. This is your personal registry -- the HKEY_CURRENT_USER hive.

You can read this file by using the File → Load Hive option of the Registry Editor. However, you will probably need Administrator rights to do that, as it's only possible to load hives directly under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE or HKEY_USERS. (It doesn't matter which one you pick here.)

Alternatively, use:

reg load hklm\MyOldProfile "C:\Documents and Settings\Joe\NTUSER.DAT"

Once the old NTUSER.DAT is loaded, open it in Registry Editor, and browse to the Identities\{uuid}\Software\Microsoft\Outlook Express\5.0\Rules key. Right-click on it, and choose Export. Save it somewhere you can find.

Now open the exported file in Notepad (or your favourite text editor) -- right-click and pick Edit. You'll see something like:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\MyOldProfile\Identities\{MY-OLD-IDENTITY-UUID}\Software\Microsoft\Outlook Express\5.0\Rules]

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\MyOldProfile\Identities\{MY-OLD-IDENTITY-UUID}\Software\Microsoft\Outlook Express\5.0\Rules\Mail]

Now find every occurence of text "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\MyOldProfile" (or whatever path you have chosen in the above part) and replace it with "HKEY_CURRENT_USER".

Also replace the UUID ({blah}) with your current identity's UUID.

In the end it should look kind of like this:

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Identities\{MY-CURRENT-IDENTITY-UUID}\Software\Microsoft\Outlook Express\5.0\Rules\Mail]

Finally, save the file and import it back to registry (by double-clicking, or with reg import).

hive - logical section of the registry

key - a "folder" in the registry



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