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Microsoft Outlook 2013 question

Posted on 2014-03-05
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2014-03-27
I am using Outlook 2013.  On the left side of the screen it lists your email addresses.  In the past all my incoming and outgoing mail was listed under a heading of "Outlook."  At present nothing is listed under Outlook.  Above the Outlook heading I have my email address listed, but this is different than in the past.  In the past, my email account, it seems to me, was simply a part of and included in the heading of "Outlook."

The Outlook heading has an inbox listed under it, but when I get email it does not go to this inbox, it goes to the inbox under my email account.  I think somehow I have gotten things setup in a way that is a little unorthodox.  I think it will be best if my email simply comes to the inbox listed under Outlook.  If this is correct, how do I make this happen.

Thank you
Question by:WoodrowA
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Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 39906919
I think what has happened is that Outlook 2013 names the PST file with an email address name. That is why you see the email address. They really are filenames.

Then whenever you set up a new email address, it sets up a new PST file. Email goes to the default inbox normally.

I find this unnecessarily confusing and unproductive. I put everything into one PST file (about 8 accounts) and called the PST file OUTLOOK.PST. So everything is in there. Works better for me.

If you wish to change (and it looks like you do), figure out which file is your main PST file, go to Outlook Accounts and point all your accounts to the one file. Then import the email from the other files into your main file. Work carefully and back up your PST files first.

Author Comment

ID: 39907077

Thank you for responding.  I have studied your remarks and considered what you've said, but I think the details of the problem are not yet clearly understood.  It is complicated enough to where I don't know where to start but my best effort is as follows.

My main file (.pst file) does seem to be named Outlook.pst.  It is the only .pst file in the directory where I keep my pst files.  True, in Outlook itself, in the main screen and the  pain on the left, I have my email account listed there, but there is no corresponding pst file in my folder where outlook pst files are kept.  If I go into account settings, Email tab, I see reference to the email account there but down in the bottom the path listed there is different than the one where my .pst files are normally kept.  Instead what is listed is C:\Users\Woody_2\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook and the file name is different also.  Instead of a .pst extension it has a .ost extension.

I have learned the hard way that things work better when they are setup in a way the computer thinks is orthodox.  But at this point I don't know how to get back to that point.

In your reply you said "If you wish to change ... figure out which file is your main PST file, go to Outlook Accounts and point all your accounts to the one file."

When one goes to Outlook Accounts how does one point "all your accounts to the one file."?
In my email tab, all that is listed are my email accounts (I have 2 of them) with path pointing to files with .ost extensions as mentioned above. There is no reference in the email tab to "Outlook" per say.

Don't know if you can make head or tail of what I've said, but this is my best effort.  One more thing to mention.  I just recently moved and had to switch to Comcast as my internet provider.  I am told by Comcast that their email service has problems with Outlook.  I don't know if this particular problem is a manifestation of that or not.
LVL 100

Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 39907122
I am not at my Outlook machine for abou an hour or so. I will study your remarks and make further comment.

Until then your new Outlook email files are in Documents in a folder called Outlook. The location was changed a version ago.

Please look there for your files.

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LVL 100

Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 39907223
I have yet to get to my Outlook machine but I see you also have an OST file which is a cached Exchange file. It cannot be opened or used. You need to purchase an OST converter program.

Also, for the PST files you do have, it may be worth your while to backup your PST files and your OST files, delete your Outlook profile and accounts, restart Outlook and make a new Profile. Then add your accounts using the manual method (not wizard) . Then you can control what files are used and where they are.

Add an Exchange profile or convert the OST file you do have.

Author Comment

ID: 39907292
Thank you for responding.

I don't know how or where I got a cached Exchange file (.ost).  This concept has never even come up in the past.  I supposed it is because I am using a new email provider (Comcast) and when I added the account I allowed it to be added automatically.  My supposition is that in the wisdom of how the "Automatic setup" works this occurred.
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Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 39907443
I suggest, to avoid complexity and confusion that you back up all your PST and OST files (as I noted) into (say) C:\temp.

Then delete your Outlook Profile or Profiles which will delete your accounts, restart your computer, restart Outlook and start again with a new profile. Set up accounts manually, not the wizard and you should be able to get everything back together into one file.

Then import from the saved backups into the new file.

Good luck,

Author Comment

ID: 39920862
Hi John,

The complexity of the problem is a little daunting for a program that is (should be) as simple as Outlook.  If I understand correctly when I installed my comcast account Outlook decided (for reasons unknown) to create .ost files and put them in my C:\Users\Woody_2\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook directory.  

Perhaps this is the default location for Outlook files these days.  Prior to all this, many months ago, I changed the default directory for my Outlook files so, on my machine the Outlook.pst file is actually located in a folder on my machine called Documents\Outlook. I did this for "easier backup" reasons.

As to why Comcasst created the .ost files I have no idea, though their tech support people have told me a couple of times that Outlook and Comcast have issues.  Things are working at present though just not in the way I am used to .  I am reluctant to uninstall and re-install because they may not work properly then, given the Comcast issues. I can live with things the way they are though I would like to be sure if my hard drive were to crash I could get back to where I need to be with proper backups.  My supposition is that if I backup both directories, this I would be able to do.

I know this is complex and I wish there were simple answers.  I have already spent two or three hours on the problem and I need to get back to other paid work.  Any final thoughts from you?

Thank you again for your efforts.

LVL 100

Accepted Solution

John Hurst earned 2000 total points
ID: 39921474
If I understand correctly when I installed my comcast account Outlook decided (for reasons unknown) to create .ost files and put them in my C:\Users\Woody_2\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook directory.  

I do not know why this would happen. First, your comments above lead me to think you are not using Exchange and only Exchange will create an OST file. I do not know why Comcast would create an OST file.

Then the default directory for Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2010 is Documents\Outlook. The directory you show above is for Outlook 2007 and early. Perhaps you upgrade from one of those early versions, but even then I thought the new versions would change folders.

As to why Comcast created the .OST files I have no idea, though their tech support people have told me a couple of times that Outlook and Comcast have issues

As I noted, I do not why and it is not normal. Comcast obviously have some sort of issue

Any final thoughts from you?

I think (as I noted earlier) if you back up your PST and OST file with true certainty into a neutral folder, delete your Outlook Profile (which will delete your accounts, restart, make one new Profile, make one new account manually (no wizard) and point to where you want and then import your mail, Outlook should work and look normal.

You can then add accounts manually, point them to the main file above, and then import any remaining email. This should all work fine. Just be sure of your backups first.

I have lots of Outlook accounts and have move up version by version from Outlook 2002 and always had Outlook work fine.
LVL 100

Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 39959147
@WoodrowA - Thank you and I was happy to help.

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