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

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 “”!

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!

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7 thoughts on “How to transfer Outlook auto-complete addresses to a new computer”

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

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