How do you import outlook express 6 messages into Windows Live Mail and have them in the proper folders?

Posted on 2009-12-21
Last Modified: 2012-05-08
Once your Outlook Express emails are imported into Live Mail they go into an imported folder in Live Mail.  If I have 30 separate folders under my inbox, I then have 30 separate folders under my Inbox in imported folders.  I then have to manually create each folder and drag it to the proper position under my inbox.  RIDICULOUS!  When you used to import your mail, it would properly place all of your folders right into your new inbox.  Is there an easier way to do this with Live Mail than what I have found?
Question by:sbmgabby7
    LVL 14

    Expert Comment

    Why don't you just click and drag (move) the folders from the Imported folder to your inbox folder?

    Author Comment

    Have you tried it?  It doesn't work for me to click and drag
    LVL 38

    Accepted Solution

    Hi sbmgabby7

    I hadn't noticed this before, because I tend to avoid having a load of nested folders in email clients, but I was aware of the File menu > Folder > "Move..." option which shows a dialog that seems to allow you to move folders.  This must be some kind of bug or just a stupid unfinished bit of programming with Windows Live Mail because that dialog doesn't allow dragging and dropping folders nor does it show any other means like a right-click menu to facilitate moving folders.

    In fact, Windows Live Mail does not appear to allow you to create a sub-folder within an existing folder at all, so there is absolutely no sense in even having the menu option to show this dialog, because the only options that work in it (New Folder, Delete, Rename) are available directly within the Live Mail interface from Right-Click menus, and dragging and dropping folders doesn't work there either.

    I believe that there is a very good reason why Microsoft have deliberately made it impossible to create sub-folders, and it is most likely due to the manner in which messages are stored by Live Mail.

    I'm not sure if you are aware of one of the main differences between Outlook Express and Windows Live Mail in terms of message storage.  Outlook Express stores messages inside a compressed database file named after that folder, eg. "Inbox.dbx", while Live Mail stores messages as individual *.eml files.

    In Windows XP Windows Live Mail places its user folders here:

    C:\Documents and Settings\<YourName>\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Windows Live Mail

    You can see what your master "Store Folder" is by opening the Tools menu > Options > Advanced tab > Maintenance button > "Store Folder" button.

    There are sub-folders therein named after each configured Live Mail account, and within each there are physical folders named after the default Live Mail Folders (Inbox, Sent Items, Deleted Items, Drafts, etc) as well as user-created ones.

    Creating a new physical folder in any of the above folders, or alongside them, in Windows Explorer will not create them as new folders in Windows Live Mail.  You can only create new folders from within the Live Mail interface, and they are thereafter mirrored as physical files in Windows Explorer in your Store Folder under the account you created it/them.

    Additionally, as sub-folders under the "Windows Live Mail" folder there are the "Outbox" folder and "Storage Folder" (plus its sub-folders) that are common to all accounts.

    All messages received by Live Mail and showing in the Live Mail folders are stored as *.eml files in the physical folders of the same names at the paths mentioned above.  eg.

    C:\Documents and Settings\Bill\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Windows Live Mail\Bill Hotmail 2\Inbox\00294823-0000000A.eml

    Note the strange alphanumeric name for the *.eml file rather than a file name derived from the Subject line, as is the case if you do a File > Save as *.eml, from, or drag and drop a message out of Outlook Express to a Windows Explorer folder.

    However, I have found that if you drag and drop one or more messages OUT of Outlook Express to a folder on your Desktop or elsewhere (where it will extract them as new *.eml files), and then drag and drop them INTO the message pane of Windows Live Mail when you have one of the folders opened, the messages are immediately readable in their original format complete with attachments and embedded images, and will then be saved as *.eml files with new alphanumeric names in the matching physical folder as mentioned above, eg.

    C:\Documents and Settings\Bill\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Windows Live Mail\Bill Hotmail 2\Inbox

    With manipulations like this, and also drag and drop moving/copying of messages from one account folder to another account folder, in the Live Mail interface dumps copies of the copied/moved files into new sub-sections under the Storage Folders > Recovered Items special folder.  They can be deleted from there quite easily though.

    Please see the message at the bottom of my attached screenshot.  "You cannot create a folder inside this folder".  That was me trying to create a new sub-folder in the "Inbox" folder, but the same is true if you create a new folder and then try to create a sub-folder inside that user-created one.

    My testing has been quite exhaustive, and as I mentioned it is NOT possible to create new folders or sub-folders within Windows Explorer while Live mail is closed, and then have Live Mail recognise their presence and display them when restarted.

    Given the inability to create new sub-folders in existing Live Mail folders, and therefore also the inability to drag and drop the FOLDERS that import into Windows Live Mail interface, I think you are stuck with this strange and somewhat ridiculously restrictive issue.


    LVL 38

    Expert Comment

    **** Whoops ***

    Sorry, I meant to mention the significance of the "Storage Folders" repository.  In Windows Explorer this is the only folder (apart from the "Your Feeds" folder) that has sub-folders in it:

    C:\Documents and Settings\Bill\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Windows Live Mail\Storage Folders\

    Default sub-folders are:

    Deleted Items
    Recovered items
    Sent Items

    Within the Windows Live Mail interface this is the only folder in which you CAN create a new folder, and then create sub-folders within that.  See the attached screenshot.

    Right-Click on "Storage Folders" > New Folder > type in a name.
    Right-Click on the new folder > New folder > type in a name.

    If you delete any of your user-created folders, they are stored in the "Storage Folders > Deleted Items" folder until emptied.

    Clearly the "Storage Folders" is independent of all of your configured Live Mail accounts, but it seems strange that you cannot even create a new folder and import into THAT folder.  It insists on creating a new folder hierarchy:

    C:\Documents and Settings\<YourName>\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Windows Live Mail\Storage Folders\Imported Folder\Local Folders\<Name-Of-OE-Folder-Imported\*.eml

    and the *.eml files are already given their unique alpha-numeric names immediately on import, so it's not like that folder has to act as an intermediary for message indexing and naming when they are moved.

    Just why Microsoft designed it this way is a mystery, and you are stuck with that behaviour.
    LVL 38

    Expert Comment

    I suppose if you are following some "best practice" method, you shouldn't really be using your "Inbox" as a permanent storage repository anyway.  Outlook Express groans and crashes when the "Inbox.dbx" message database gets too large, but Windows Live Mail loads and uses actual *.eml files from standard hard drive folders, so I reckon it's pretty immune to that kind of size restriction and I don't follow their reasoning.
    LVL 38

    Expert Comment

    Thank you sbmgabby7.

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