Windows Mail - Messages

How to Backup and Restore Messages in Windows Mail
This will show you how to backup and restore messagas in Windows Mail.
How to Backup and Restore Messages in Windows Mail

information   Information
To Backup your messages, you will use the Export option. To Restore your messages that you have already backed up, you will use the Import option. This will save a copy of your messages to a empty folder outside of Windows Mail that you can use for a backup. Windows Mail email messages have the .eml file extension.
Note   Note
The default hidden system folder location where Windows Mail store the messages at is:

C:\users\(user-name)\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Mail\Local Folders

Tip   Tip
To backup everything (Accounts, Message Rules, and All Settings) in Windows Mail, then see the How to Backup and Reset Windows Mail section here: How to Fix Most Problems with Vista's "Windows Mail"

Option One
How to Export (Backup) Messages

1. Create a New Folder on your desktop to backup your Windows Mail messages into later in step 6 below.​
NOTE: This New Folder will need to remain empty.
2. Open Windows Mail.​
3. Click on File and then Export and Messages. (See screenshot below)​

4. Click on Microsoft Windows Mail and click Next. (See screenshot below)​
NOTE: If you want to export messages from Windows Mail to Microsoft Outlook or Microsoft Exchange, then click Microsoft Exchange instead. If Outlook is not open, select the profile that you want to receive the messages, and then click Ok. See: Microsoft Help and Support: KB196347

5. Click on Browse. (See screenshot below)​
WARNING: You will only be able to Export into a selected empty folder (step 1).​

6. Navigate to the location of your empty new folder (step 1) and highlight the new folder, then click on Select Folder. (See screenshots below)​
NOTE: For example, go to C:\Users\(user name)\Documents and highlight the Messages folder.​

7. Make sure the Export To location is correct and click on Next. (See screenshot below)​

8. Select (dot) All folders and click on Next. (See screenshot below)​
NOTE: If you only want to back up a individual folder, then dot Selected folders and click on the folder you want to export.

9. Click on Finish. (See screenshot below)​
NOTE: Your messages have been Exported to the selected location from step 1 and 6 above. You can save this exported folder to something like a DVD or USB key to backup or use to transfer to another computer. If you cannot copy the exported folder for some reason, then place the exported folder in a ZIP file first and try again.​

Option Two
How to Import (Restore) Messages

1. Open Windows Mail.​
2. Click on File, Import, and Messages. (See screenshot below)​

3. Click on Microsoft Windows Mail 7 and click on Next. (See screenshot below)​
NOTE: If you are importing from another format, then select the program that the messages are from instead. See:

4. Click on Browse. (See screenshot below)​

5. Navigate to the location of your backed up exported messages folder and only highlight the exported folder, then click on Select Folder. (See screenshots below)​
NOTE: For example, from OPTION ONE go to C:\Users\(user name)\Documents and highlight the Messages folder.​

6. Make sure the Import From location is correct and click on Next. (See screenshot below)​

7. Select (dot) All folders and click on Next. (See screenshot below)​
NOTE: If you only want to import a individual folder, then dot Selected folders and click on the folder you want to import.

8. Click on Finish. (See screenshot below)​
NOTE: Your messages have been Imported from the selected location from step 5 above.

9. Now just move the email messages from the Imported Folders to the mailbox folder you want them in. (See screenshot below)​
NOTE: For example, you can Drag and Drop or highlight the email messages and click Move to Folder. The folders can only be moved one at a time.
10. When done, you can delete these Imported Folders.​
NOTE: To delete, just right click on the imported folder and click Delete. If the imported folder(s) will not delete, then see the FIRST and SECOND section instructions here:How to Fix Most Problems with Vista's "Windows Mail"

That's it,

Last edited by a moderator:
Shawn Brink


I have just imported "all" messages back to Windows Mail, and many of the folders are empty. They number from 1 to 29. When I right click and select delete, I am asked if I want to delete it, click yes - but the folder, e.g. Imported Folder 15, is still there. How can I delete from the list of folders in the lefthand column of Windows Mail?
Shawn, thank you.
No success, however. Reinstalled AVG without email scanning, downloaded and ran KB941090 -still could not delete empty folders - restarted, no change. Tried to drag to desktop - could not.
For my case perhaps could I empty all of the Windows Mail folders including Message Storage and then start a new Windows Mail? Any of the messages received this year which are essential I have printed, and all previous messages are also in Outlook Express on another computer.

Yes, you can do the reset Windows Mail in the link above to have Windows Mail start like new again.

Hi, just wondering I am trying to get the messages off of our old computer and put onto our new computer, however when we try to export the messages there is no box asking where we would like to export to... how do we find out where the messages are going?

Are you exporting from another Vista computer or from a different OS?

When exporting, did you select Microsoft Windows Mail and click on the Browse button in the next window?

You can do a thorough non-indexed search for *.eml to find all email messages on your computer. The ones that are not in the location at the top of the tutorial may be the ones you exported.

Hope this helps,
Shawn, thankyou so much for the response. I am exporting from a non-vista to a vista computer, unfortunately they are in two different offices so I dont have the old computer in front of me... but I will try the search for .eml files and see if that brings anything up. originally when i exported the e-mails (or tried to) there was no pop-up box asking where to export to... but when i did the contacts it did have a pop up and i was able to import them over to my new computer, hopefully the search will work. if not i'm sure I'll be back on here... thanks again
I have followed this tutorial (great clear instructions, thank you) but I have the same problem as finucane has posted.

When I try to copy the folder into which I have exported the mail messages to my USB key, I receive warning/information message, as follows:

'The file (filename) has properties that cannot be copied to a new location.'
There is a check box 'Do this for all current items (no of files)'

I checked the box and the folder exported successfully to my USB key but checking that the messages had exported correctly showed that the name of the person sending the message had disappeared to be replaced by a number. The messages seem to have backed up successfully but it is impossible to identify which message is which.

I see that you asked finucane to post this query in the Windows Mail Newsgroup. Searching that Newsgroup I cannot see his post or any reply to a similar problem.

I would be grateful for any help. I have always used Outlook, where exporting data in CSV format was easy, before buying a laptop with Vista. Unfortunately my XP version of Outlook won't work with Vista and I have had to use Mail instead.

Thank you.
Hello Lomond, and welcome to Vista Forums.

I must admit that I am not sure about this. Did you export the folder to your desktop or other user folder first, then copy it to the USB key?

If you click on one of the email message files, does it open it for you in Windows Mail correctly?
Thank you for the welcome to the Forum. I have found many of the tutorials very useful, as I am new to Vista.

I exported the messages to a folder within the Documents folder and then copied that folder to the USB key.

I didn't try opening a message from the USB key. My partner has the laptop with him today but I will try this when I have access to the laptop again and will report back to you.

Thanks :).
As requested I have tried opening a message from the exported messages folder on the hard disk and it opens just fine. The messages also open from the USB key without problems.

If I click on an individual message within the exported messages folder, either on the hard disk or the USB key, the message subject line and the name of the sender appear at the bottom of the folder window, together with the time the message was sent. In view of this I am not sure what 'properties' have not been copied according to the Vista dialogue. It is just a bit strange to see the "name" of the message as a string of numbers and letters!

Anyway, we are now happy that the laptop's emails have safely been backed up in case of disaster. A friend has just lost all of his emails, apparently due to the fact that he had allowed the message store to get too big. Safe is better than sorry.

Thank you very much :D.
I did an export on my messages from Windows Mail, blew my computer away, re-installed everything. However when I go to import my messages, it will only import half of my mail...I get no error, no warning, no nothing. It says its finished but I'm missing half of my folders. When I go to do it manually (again) I can see the folders in the list but it will not import them. I have even tried selecting the "Select Folders" option and just selecting the individual folders Windows Mail has missed, but it still will not import them! It creates another "Imported Folders" icon with nothing in it. Please help me :cry:
Hello IslandIT, and welcome to Vista Forums.

You can try manually copying only the .eml files (messages) that will not import into one of the message folders in the default hidden system folder below. Afterwards, reopen Windows Mail to see if they are in that message folder.

C:\users\(user-name)\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Mail\Local Folders

Hope this helps,
Hi Guys. Apologies if I have missed a reply to this, but I tried a sample back up to make sure I was doing it right and moved a few messages in a draft folder only. All good. Trouble is, messages are not saved in any identifiable format ie: only series of letters and numbers.eml. How is it possible to save several thousand important emails and then wade thru them if something ever did go wrong? Why arent the messages saved under the name and email address of who they were to/from? Please advise.


Hello Hound, and welcome to Vista Forums

When you import them back in, they will make sense then. However, you could give the folder that you export them into a name that could help ID them better until you import them.
Thanks Brink, much appreciated. Can I ask other newbie questions please. How do I archive emails in Windows Mail, and also, if I switch my system to Office Outlook, is it easy to transfer all my emails to that? Additionally, what is the signature size limit in OO?