How to transfer Outlook auto-complete addresses to a new computer

by Ross McKillop on July 7, 2008

Email Office

I’m very pleased to introduce the 2nd guest blogger at Simple Help, Aseem Kishore. Aseem is a technology enthusiast and lead blogger for Online-Tech-Tips, a terrific how-to site I’d strongly suggest you subscribe to.

-Ross


If you’re one of the millions of people using Microsoft Outlook, either at home or at the office, you’ve probably had to move your email from one computer to another at some point in time. Transferring Outlook emails, calendar, contacts and tasks is a fairly simple procedure, but it would also be nice to transfer the autocomplete addresses we’ve come to depend on.

In case you’re not sure what I am talking about, autocomplete is when you open a new email form and begin typing in an address into the To: box:

outlook autocomplete

Notice that I typed the letter c and several Outlook contacts automatically appeared below. These are addresses that I have previously sent emails to and that’s why they show up. This is extremely useful if someones email address is very different from their name because all you have to remember is there name instead of “greek_god109293@supermail.com”!

So here are the steps in order to successfully transfer the auto-complete history to another computer.

  1. If Outlook is open, go ahead and close it.
  2. Next you’ll have to turn on viewing of hidden files, so go to My Computer in XP or Computer in Vista, then go to Tools and finally Folder Options. In Vista, you might have to press ALT in order to see the menu.
  3. XP Folder Options

  4. Click on the View tab and then select the Show hidden files and folders radio button under the Hidden Files and Folders option. Also make sure the Hide extensions for known file types checkbox directly below hidden files is unchecked.
  5. show hidden files and folders

  6. Now in My Computer, go to your profile folder under Document and Settings. In Vista, you will find your profile folder in the Users folder.
  7. windows explorer

  8. Once in your profile folder, go to Application Data directory, then to Microsoft and finally to Outlook. So the final path should be something like:

    C:\Documents and Settings\user_name\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook

  9. In the Outlook folder, look for a file with a .NK2 extension. This is the file that contains all of the autocomplete information. Copy that file and transfer it to the new computer.

    Finally, go to the same location on the new computer as described above, namely, Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook and paste the .NK2 file there. Start Outlook and open a new email. When you start typing, all of your previous autocomplete addresses will show up. Enjoy!

  • http://none greg

    thanks man you awsome

  • geoff

    Extremely useful and informative guide. This will save me some serious hassle.

  • Eric

    Is there a way to remove a single email address from this ‘quick address listing’?

  • Joel

    Incredibly helpful. Saved me a lot of hastle too!

    Eric, i believe you can remove addresses by simply pressing the down arrow to the address you want to remove and pressing delete.

    Just a thought – I wonder why microsoft haven’t designed it so these addresses are stored on the exchange server somewhere to save both users and administrators the hastle of doing this manually when users move pc’s.

  • http://antonio antonio

    No Firefx e no Google Chrome em vez de usar favoritos usam Marcadores.
    Eu pergunto nestes dois casos como consigo transferir todos os Marcadores instalados de um computador para outro ou gravá-los num CD ou numa Pen para poder fazer a transferência? Ou até mesmo para ficar com uma cópia subselente ?
    Ficaria bastante grato por esta informação.
    Antonio Bento Luís

  • Stacy

    This didn’t work for me. Any suggestions? I’m going from XP to Vista using Office 2003. The ’03 Outlook seems to work just fine on Vista, but I can’t figure out why the auto recognition isn’t working when I’ve done the steps described above. Best Buy “geeks” told me this can’t be done since it’s a history file and you can’t transfer a history file. I have no idea if that’s correct or not. Help?

  • Milton

    Por favor si me puedes ayudar. Yo e buscado el archivo con la extensión .NK2 pero no la encuentro por ningun lado. Tal vez será porque yo uso XP profesional u Office . 2007???? si sabes algo por favor avísame

  • Joel

    Stacy,

    At which point did this fix not work for you? Can you outline exactly what you were doing when it didn’t work?

    This fix should work fine, I have done it many times for users from XP to Vista. It was a relatively simple process.

  • Cyn

    I am in the same boat as Stacy.  I followed the directions to a tee and it went smoothly.  When I went back into Outlook auto-complete didn’t work.  I too am using Office 03 and moving from XP to Vista.

  • Joe Griffin

    Bless you my friend. This worked excellently for me. I transfered .NK2 after having to reformat Vista Ultimate (go figure) and found the old .NK2 file in the “windowsOLD” file which Vista creates when you reformat your hard drive.

  • Brandon

    This is great. Do you know how to do this on Office 2008 on a Mac?

  • http://www.ico.org Leef

    Thanks for the help.

  • http://www.ken4cabins.com Ken

    This is where I’m looking for the *.nk2 file: C:\Documents and Settings\Owner\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook

    No luck…any suggestions please. Appreciatively, Ken

  • Joel

    Ken,

    You’ve got the folder path slightly wrong. It should be:

    C:\Documents and Settings\”userfolder”\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook

    You’ll find the nk2 file in there.

  • http://fbckeller.org Jeremy

    This did not work for me, as well. I copied the NK2 file from c://Docs and Settings\myuser\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook. The copy and paste process worked fine but nothing changed in Outlook when I opened it and began a new message. The addresses still were not there.

    Any thoughts?

  • Michael

    This also did not work from me. I went from XP to Vista, Outlook 2007. The auto complete still does not work. Any other suggestions?

  • Yasser

    The correct path for Vista is myuser\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Outlook\. It worked with me but make sure that the file name is Outlook.Nk2. By the way, I’m part of a domain.
    Good Luck

  • Hans

    Bedankt voor de info!

    Ik had nog een vraagje. Is het mogelijk om de gegevens uit het automatisch aanvullen te importeren in je contactpersonen? Of alle unieke email-adressen uit je verzonden items aan de contactpersonen toe te voegen?

    Alvast bedankt!
    grtz Heisa

  • Hans

    Okay,

    Forgot that the forum is in English :)

    Thanks for the info!

    I have another question. Is it possible to import the addresses the auto-complete file to the Contactpersons? Or is it possible to import all unique addresses from the sent items box to the Contactpersons?

    Thanks in advance!
    Regards,
    Hans

  • joni

    I am actually looking for exact steps to move Outlook 2000 calendar and contacts from an old Windows 98 computer to my new Vista desktop. I’ve tried burning a cd of the .pst file(s), but when i put it in my new computer, it doesn’t allow me to paste it into the Outlook folder there. I’d rather use the new Windows Mail, Address Book and Calendar, but only if i can transfer my old data first. Help!

  • olls

    I have moved the autocomplete over from an old harddrive to new laptop – but it only works if the file name of the old file matches the one in the new location. Its seems not all of them are named outlook.NK2. At first I had two NK2 files: old.NK2 and new.NK2. Deleted old.NK2 and renamed new.NK2 to old.NK2. Hope that makes sense and helps?

  • James Hawthornthwaite

    I think to get the the NK2 file to work correctly it must match the same profile name on the previous outlook

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  • Matt

    This did not work for me. I found the old .NK2 file, copied it and pasted it into the outlook folder with pst files on the new computer (in my case new hard drive. Started a new message, but the auto complete did not work. I noticed that the .nk2 file is named Matthew.nk2, not Outlook.nk2 and wonder if that makes any difference.

  • Fabio

    Na minha opiniao, perfeito. Basta ter o basico em conhecimento de informatica pra realizar esse procedimento.

    Tks

  • http://otak-komputer.blogspot.com Otak Komputer

    this what I’m looking for. I need to transfer some address on my book

  • yb

    I don’t have a nk2 file in that folder, using outlook 2002 on windows xp

    C:\Documents and Settings\USER\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook

  • yb

    worked after unclicking hide uknown file types

  • http://www.webpresenceplus.net internet castres

    Merci beaucoup, énorme gaine de temps grace a cet article. grand merci

  • CoachP

    You should know that the pst file and the NK2 file are not placed in the same folder. If you are moving from an XP machine to Windows 7 the file locations should be:

    The correct source path for the Windows XP machine is:
    X:\Documents and Settings\USERNAME\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook.

    The correct path for the copy destination on to a Windows 7 machine is:
    C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Outlook
    (this destination is true regardless of where the pst file has been placed on the new machine)

  • Matt

    This process works. For those of you having trouble:
    - XP and Vista have different locations that the N2K file needs to be put in. Read the post above this one for the correct locations or do a search for *.N2K.
    - If you are part of a domain (work/office) then the file will be a different name than if you are a stand alone user. The easist way to figure out what the file should be named is to look in the appropriate folder, fint the N2K file then name the one you copied from the old computer EXCTLY the same as the one you see on the new computer. The file is case sensative.

  • OptiOke

    This really works! Thanks for the time. For those who find this does not work, double check your folders. On Vista and Win 7, enter the roaming folder. When you paste the file, it must have the dame name are the profile you are currently using. In case you are not sure what profile name you are using, open Control Panel then open Mail. Now click on Show profiles. Youe profile name should be listed there.

  • nader

    it works in teh case of profiles too—-simply copy the old file, paste it, detele the old profile and then rename the copy to the profile you are using

    this was amazing! thanks so mucH!

  • Dino

    Thanks my friend, it worked perfectly!

  • pardack

    Once I clued into the name changes and figured out outlook will rename if it does not match exactly I managed to delete all the other .n2k files and replace with the one copy that I wanted named exactly as the new empty one was called. This worked 100%. Just make sure your file is called the same as the new n2k once you delete the new one and it should work from there. This has worked for server 2003, xp, vista, and win 7 machines so it should work for all of you.

  • DA

    This worked great

  • Giget

    When I upgraded I needed to rename my NK2 file. Mine now reads “Outlook.NK2″ and it works great. If you are going to try this make sure you write down EXACTLY how it is listed in case it doesn’t work you can change it back.

  • Faiyaz Ahmed

    Thanks .. Its works

  • Sebo

    I tried all above, and made sure three times it is in correct folder and no luck
    I am transferring from outlook 2007 and XP to outlook 2010 and Windows 7, is that why it is not working?
    Any suggestions

  • George Carlen

    On the new XP machine I imported the old machine .nk2 file. You could not see the extension, it was labled “default Oulook Profile”, So in the new machine I deleted the similiar “Outlook” file and changed the name of the new to be like the old -OUTLOOK,
    Voila! it works.

  • Allison

    Please share, how do i export auto complete address from outlook on a Mac?? I cant find it anywhere! thanks!!!

  • osama

    please how i can mirge two .nk2 files from two xp computers to on wind7 computer.

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