Copying Outlook profiles, looking up SIDs and rediscovering Outlook 2007’s autodiscovery functionality

One of the benefits of not being so “hands on” these days is not having to mess around with Outlook profiles but, after joining my Windows 7 workstation to my employer’s Active Directory domain last week, I was faced with the prospect of migrating certain settings between the profile for a local user account and the profile for my cached domain logon. It should have been easy to set up a new profile, but for some reason I couldn’t get Outlook to connect to my server, so I decided to copy the working profile from the local user account.

There are various ways to do export Outlook account information but I decided to fall back to direct registry manipulation, exporting the registry values at HKEY_USERS\SID\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Windows Messaging Subsystem\Profiles\Outlook (thanks to Dave Saxon for that tip), then massaging the resulting .reg file to change the SID and re-importing.

Incidentally, to find out which SID relates to which username, I followed a Microsoft Scripting Guys article to run the following VBScript:

strComputer = "."
Set objWMIService = GetObject("winmgmts:\\" & strComputer & "\root\cimv2")
Set objAccount = objWMIService.Get _
("Win32_UserAccount.Name='username',Domain='computername'")
Wscript.Echo objAccount.SID

The main problem with this method was that my profile included an offline folder file (.OST) which was not accessible for my domain user account. It did, however, allow me to verify the settings that were required and to attempt to set up an new profile.

As it happens, even that was unsuccessful, so I tried the Repair button in the Outlook account settings, which invoked Outlook 2007’s autodiscovery functionality. If only I’d thought to use that in the first place… Still, at least it exposed me to the workings of an Outlook profile.

Incidentally, whilst researching this post, I came across some more information that might be useful if you’re trying to move Outlook data around.

There are two key locations containing many of the Outlook data files:

  • %userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Outlook (also accessible at %userprofile%\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook)
  • %userprofile%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook (also accessible at %userprofile%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook)

Some of the useful files (which may exist outside those two folders, and which may vary according to the version of Outlook) include:

  • profilename.NK2 (or .NICK) – nickname files with auto completion information.
  • profilename.xml – navigation pane settings.
  • .PST files – personal folders.
  • archive.pst – archived data (my personal preference is to turn off auto Archive and manage it manually).
  • .PAB files – personal address book files.
  • .FAV files – Outlook Bar shortcuts.
  • .RWZ files – Rules Wizard rules.
  • .DIC files – dictionary files.
  • views.dat – customized system folder views.
  • outcmd.dat – customised toolbar settings.
  • extend.dat – references to extensions (add-ins).
  • .sharing.xml.obi files – RSS subscription names.
  • .xml.kfl – RSS known feed list.

Signatures, Stationery and Templates have their own folders under %userprofile%\AppData\Local\Microsoft:

  • \Signatures (.RTF, .HTM, and .TXT files).
  • \Stationary (.HTM files).
  • \Templates (.OFT files).

You may also find some send and receive settings (.SRS) files. These are workstation specific and appear to be created on the first run of Outlook for each messaging profile. Consequently they do not need to be migrated.

Similarly, offline address book (.OAB) files should be downloaded from the server.

Finally, just as I was about to post this, I found an Outlook Backup Tutorial covering both Outlook and Outlook Express, which might be useful if you want to back up just your Outlook data (I tend to back up the whole machine).

2 thoughts on “Copying Outlook profiles, looking up SIDs and rediscovering Outlook 2007’s autodiscovery functionality


  1. Why go through all this for moving to Windows 7, when you could have done a File – Export – to PST from within Outlook?


  2. Hi Jordan – I think you missed the point. I use Exchange Server for my mail (with some archival to PST to keep within my mailbox limits) – exporting to PST doesn’t help me when I’m not working at that computer (e.g. web access) and it doesn’t help to migrate other Outlook information (e.g. signatures, RSS subscriptions, etc.) between user profiles.

Leave a Reply