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How to import Outlook mail to IMAP

Posted on 2015-01-17
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The question title may not be descriptive enough ... I have Exchange users. I want to move their email to a non-Exchange IMAP server. How do I do this? I have some ideas, but I'd like some advice before I experiment.

In the past, I've been able to export Exchange served mail in Outlook using File > Import and Export > export to a file > Personal Folder file (.pst). Then I can import them into Outlook, but it imports them to a different mail folder hierarchy. It does not merge/replace the user's own mail folder.

I could rename/remove the users current C:\Users\mark\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook\ pst and copy the desired one to that location using the same name.

Or, I could go to Tools > Account Settings > Data Files and change the account's datafile.

Or maybe someone has a better suggestion?
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Question by:jmarkfoley
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Qlemo earned 500 total points
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IMAP is completely server-based. The local pst file is nothing more than a cache copy. Exchange is very similar. The result is that you need a copy/move for each individual folder and message.
Leaving the Exchange account active in Outlook, create the according IMAP account. Then move or copy messages and folders from Exchange to IMAP by dragging them. Close Outlook to remove the Exchange account.
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Olemo:
The local pst file is nothing more than a cache copy
Right, knew that.
Leaving the Exchange account active in Outlook, create the according IMAP account. Then move or copy messages and folders from Exchange to IMAP by dragging them. Close Outlook to remove the Exchange account.
Wow! That actually worked!!!! Awesome tip. Kind of tedious though. I have to go to each user's workstations, and drag/copy each folder to the new location.

Is there a faster way, like exporting the .ost to a local .pst, then importing on the new system?

Another issue I worry about is that the new/target server currently has a different domain name, but will eventually have the same domain name as the old/existing server will physically go away. Is this an issue or can I just delete/re-create the account on the new system with the new mail name? I think I can do that as I've done this several times on the new/test system w/o losing mail.
The problem here is that the Exchange server and the new server using dovecot are not connected. I can try connecting them, but would mail folder for each server show up on the Outlookbut wouldn't it be ea
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The only faster way is by using VBA code. You need Outlook to transfer the mailbox content.
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I'm continuing to play with this ...

On my other system running Exchange, there is no "Personal Folders" (red arrow in attached image). How can I remove this set of folders? If I right click on it, "close" is grayed out. Will it go away If I delete the data file associated with this folder (orange arrow, I think)?

I opened a .pst file on the IMAP system saved from my Exchange system. Its contents are show with the green arrow. New mail from the IMAP server arrives in the folder named mark@ohprs.org (blue arrow). I'd like to somehow replace the "mark@ohprs.org folders with the pst in "Outlook Data Files without copying each folder from "green" to "blue". Is there a way I can copy the imported .pst file to ...\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook and use Outlook's Account Settings > Data Files to install the imported .pst as the "main" email folder?
Outlook-Folders.png
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"Red": I assume you can't close "Personal Folders" because it is the default location for incoming mail. IIRC you can set the default inbox in the email account settings.

"Green"/"Blue": No, IMAP does not sync folder (or PST) content with the IMAP server by copying the mails over. As I said, you need to move or copy the folders and items yourself. There is no other way.
Also, make sure you have subscribed to all interesting IMAP folders. E.g. Deleted Items, Sent Itmes and Junk should be important.
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Olemo:
"Red": I assume you can't close "Personal Folders" because it is the default location for incoming mail.
Actually, the mail gets delivered to "Blue" by default with the IMAP connection. I don't really need "Personal Folders" and  these do not show up on the current Exchange connection (see image). I'm not sure I can delete that folder, but I'll try. Unfortunately, the requisite workstation has gone to sleep, so I'll have to go in and wake it up first!"
IIRC you can set the default inbox in the email account settings.
That might to the trick! I'll try that as well.

OK. Let's bring this full-circle. I get it about copying the folders. Here's what I need to accomplish: Disconnect workstation(s) from Domain (and Exchange). Reconnect to new domain with IMAP server, no Exchange.

Now, Exchange mail is stored locally in .ost files, right? When the workstation reconnects to the new domain/IMAP configuration. What should happen? The .ost file is no longer used, right? I will probably need to Remove the Exchange Account in Outlook, and create a new IMAP account.

So then, I assume I need to have copied all the mail from the Exchange Folders to the IMAP folders before making the switch, right?

Let me know if that seems correct. I'd like to try this with a live guinea pig workstation in the next few days.
domain-outlook.jpg
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Yes, Exchange stuff is stored as copy into a OST file. That file is no longer used after switching to IMAP. You should remove Exchange accounts as soon as possible, otherwise you will get authentication errors and other strange behaviour, because Exchange is very tightly connected to Outlook. Before removing Exchange from that PC, you need to have completed your mail movement to IMAP, or exported the complete OST content to a PST file.
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Sorry for the delay ... other fires ...

Referring to my Outlook-Folders.png, above:

"Red": I assume you can't close "Personal Folders" because it is the default location for incoming mail. IIRC you can set the default inbox in the email account settings.
I tried un-setting Personal Folders as the default, but the option is grayed out. See attached image. How do I handle that? The odd thing is that Outlook *doesn't* deliver mail to that folder. It delivers to mail@ohprs.org

This is a test platform so, while waiting for feedback, I am going to delete this mail account and all these mail folders and start over from scratch. And see if I've just messed things up from too much monkeying.
OutlookDataFiles.jpg
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I've deleted Outlook files, but had to put back Outlook.pst and Personal Folders(1).pst or Outlook wouldn't run. I've begun to setup the account from scratch, but I have a pretty rookie question before continuing.

Under "User Information" it asks for E-mail address (see image). What exactly goes here? Is it my public email address: mark@ohprs.org? The email including hostname: mark@phonetree.ohprs.org? The local domain email: mark@hrprs.local? The local domain and host: mark@mail.hprs.local? What does it matter anyway?

Also, "more settings" asks for the "reply E-mail" which I would probably configure as mark@ohprs.org.

The Outlook account setup on Exchange doesn't have this particular form and in my home office Outlook I just use my public email address as there is no other choice, really.
OutlookNewAccount.jpg
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"Your Name" is what should appear in plain text when you mail as your "address".

"E-mail Address" is the real email address used from outside, i.e. others have to use to mail to you.
In your case it should be "mark@ohprs.org".

You don't need to enter anything in "Reply E-mail". This is used only if the optional reply should go to a different mail address then you used for sending it.


Exchange provides many of the settings itself, because they are defined already in Active Directory, bound to a domain account. That makes things more easy for the user, but less for the admin :).
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"Your Name" is what should appear in plain text when you mail as your "address".
OK, thanks -- got past that "hurdle".

I've newly create the IMAP account. Upon opening Outlook I had 'Personal Folders', 'mark@ohprs.org' (IMAP account)  and a 2nd 'Personal Folders' beneath that. I was able to close the 2nd 'Personal Folders'. Here are my issues:

All mail is delivered to the IMAP account, even though its data file is not it is not designated as the default folder; see image 'OutlookDataFiles' below. The datafile marked "Default" is the 'Personal Folders'. I cannot close the 'Personal Folders'. On the datafiles dialog (see image) 'Set as Default' is grayed out for the IMAP folders. So, unless someone can tell me how, it looks like I'm stuck with 'Personal Folder' set as default.
outlook data files, defaultNext -- irritating for users: When I open outlook the unused 'Personal Folders' is expanded by default and the actual active mail folder, 'mark@ohprs.org' is collapsed (see left panel in image below). To begin to use email I have to collapse the useless 'Personal Folders' and expand 'mark@ohprs.org' (see right panel). I'm guessing because the 'Personal Folders' is set to default.
Mail FoldersI can live with not being able to close the 'Personal Folders' if there's no way to do that, but is there a way to have that NOT expanded by default and have my actual in-use 'mark@ohprs.org' folder expanded upon opening? I know the office users are going to grumble about having to do this each time the get into Outlook.
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Both issues have the same cause: the PST being the default location for data.
I'm not certain you can run Outlook without a PST ...
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Yes, you can't get rid of it, because Contacts etc. need to get stored there.
You can add the IMAP folder to the favourites, and move that to the top of the folder list. That should open that first.
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Olemo:
You can add the IMAP folder to the favourites, and move that to the top of the folder list. That should open that first.
That did the trick! Moving the IMAP folder causes the the mark@ohprs.org folder to open expanded when Outlook is started! Thanks for that. I think I'm good to go now.
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That did the trick! Moving the IMAP folder [to favorites] causes the the mark@ohprs.org folder to open expanded when Outlook is started!
Actually, I am mistaken on that :( I still have to collapse the 'Personal Folder' and expand the IMAP folder. Is this worth posting another question on or is what I want simply not doable?
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Outlook 2013 doesn't need the PST file anymore, but I assume that is no solution for you ;-).
I'm currently working on VBA code opening the IMAP inbox on startup.
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And here you go:
Public Sub Application_Startup()
  Set Application.ActiveExplorer.CurrentFolder = Session.Folders("IMAP Accoount").Folders("Inbox")
End Sub

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Put this into VBA Editor (Alt-F11), "ThisOutlookSession" module.
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