How to Export and Import Outlook 2013 Account Settings
One thing that has been missing from Microsoft Outlook is the ability to Import/Export settings. You would imagine that when the developers develop a software product they would consider the ability to export (backup) configuration settings as one of the most basic features of the software. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. For the most part they do, but in case of Microsoft Outlook they never added that functionality, despite the fact that this is a feature that is desperately needed. In Outlook 2013 there is an Export option but it is used for a different purpose.
The export option is used to either export RSS feeds, or export messages in a folder. It doesn’t allow you to export Outlook settings, such as all the POP3 and IMAP accounts that you have configured. Due to the nature of my business as an instructor and consultant, I manage several networks and for various reasons I have close to 50 accounts (mostly POP3) that I use in my Outlook profile. Every time a new version of Outlook comes or I have to create an Outlook profile on a different computer, I have to start from scratch and add all these accounts manually.
I have been searching for a solution for a long time. Over the years, I have asked Microsoft experts, fellow instructors, Outlook experts, and searched the Internet. I was really hoping Outlook developers will add a backup functionality but they didn’t. Interestingly, starting with Office 2007, you can export and import the ribbon configuration in most of the Office applications, including Outlook but exporting and importing the e-mail account settings is not an option. By the way, I love the ability to customize my ribbon settings, export the configuration and then import it on other computers.
For the past several weeks the automatic Send/Receive feature in Outlook 2013 stopped working. I tried every trick I know, disabled every single add-on and still couldn’t Send/Receive to work automatically. It worked fine manually. I decided to delete my profile but I didn’t want to go through the process of creating 50 new e-mail accounts manually. I started to look around in the registry and discovered that there is an Outlook profiles folder. I thought I should test this out. In the past, I haven’t been able to find anything in the registry that will allow me to export my settings. I used the registry with Outlook Express quite often and it was very helpful.I exported the profiles folder and imported it on a test machine. It worked like a charm. I repeated the procedure of deleting my Outlook profile [in Control Panel -> Mail] and then creating a new one on my production computer. I then used the .reg file to import the e-mail profiles and it finally fixed my automatic Send/Receive problem.
The location of Outlook profiles is different in Outlook 2010 compared to Outlook 2013. Here are the paths.
Outlook 2010 profile path: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows Messaging Subsystem\Profiles\Outlook
Outlook 2013 profile path: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Outlook\Profiles
If your profile is called Outlook then there will be a folder called Outlook under Profiles. My profile in Outlook is called Zubair Alexander so there is a folder with my name under the Profiles folder in the registry. If you want to change the name of your profile you must change it in the registry because there is no option to rename your profile in Outlook. Simply right-click the folder and rename it.
To export your settings, right-click the folder and select Export. Then save the .reg file on your hard drive. You can use this .reg file to import settings on the same computer after you reinstall or delete your profile to fix a problem, or you can use the exported file on another computer.
Importing Outlook Profiles
To import the profiles using the .reg file, all you have to do is double-click the .reg file and follow the instructions.
NOTE: The name of the profile should match with the name of the profile that was used to export the registry data. For example, if your Outlook profile was called Bill Gates, then the name of the profile where you want to import the Outlook profile data should also be called Bill Gates. If you exported the registry data for an Outlook profile called BillG and then try to import it into an Outlook profile called Bill Gates it won’t work because when you double click the file it will simply import it into a folder called BillG in the registry, not in the folder Bill Gates. Of course, there are ways to fool the registry and you can try to edit the .reg file in Notepad and update all the references to the profile but if you want to go that route I will leave that up to you.
Importing Signatures in Outlook Profiles
You can import your signatures in Outlook by copying them from the APPDATA folder in your profile in Windows Explorer (called File Explorer in Windows 8/8.1). Because APPDATA folder is a hidden folder, you can simply use the following in Start, Run box on Windows 7/8/XP to quickly get to the folder:
For more information, check out my new article How to Backup and Import Email Signatures in Outlook 2013 Profiles.
One final note, when you use the registry to export and import your Outlook settings, it won’t include the passwords in your account settings because the passwords are not kept in the registry. Therefore, you will have to reenter the password for each account. However, if you import your settings on the same computer your passwords should be in tact. Frankly, I would rather enter 50 passwords instead of creating completely new 50 POP3 accounts. Luckily, I had to fix a corrupted profile on the same computer where I exported my settings so I didn’t have to reenter my passwords after importing my profile settings.
Last Updated: June 16, 2014
Update Note: November 24, 2015
This article was written for Outlook 2013 but the configuration in Outlook 2016 is very similar. Therefore, you should be able to use most of the instructions in this article for Outlook 2016.
Copyright ©2013 Zubair Alexander. All rights reserved.