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How To Change Default Data File (.OST) Location in Office 2013

To set the default location of an outlook data file you have to make a registry change.  Once you make the change, anytime you create a new data file, Outlook will put the data file in that new location. 

These instructions will work in prior versions of office as well but the path to the office key will be slightly different.

Change Default Data File Location in Outlook

1) StartRegedit – Double-Click Regedit – Accept the Elevation Prompt – Drill Down / Navigate To: Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\15.0\Outlook


2) Right-Click Outlook Select New then String Value

3) Type “ForceOSTPath” without the quotes for the variable name and press Enter then Double-Click ForceOSTPath to Edit the string

4) Type the location you want your data files to use.  In my case it was D:\_Profile\Mail

5) Click OK {You can close Registry Editor now}   You will need to close Outlook in order for Outlook to use this new setting.  Now when you create a new OST data file Outlook will put it in the new location. Close Outlook and move any .PST files to the new location if you like.  

Move your OST to the new location…

Unfortunately to use the new location for your existing accounts, you will need to create a new profile.  When a profile is created, it saves the default location :(  To utilize the new location for the OST’s you need to let outlook recreate them.

6) StartControl Panel – View By small Icons/Mail  (on Windows 8 you can also get there by just clicking Start – Type Mail – Click Settings – Click Mail)


This screenshot is Windows 8 but Windows 7 will be very similar  Now we will create a new profile and let the OST be rebuilt.

7) Click Add, Type in the Name you would like to give the profile (in my case I used “Dan Stolts”) then click OK


This will start the Auto account Setup wizard

8) Setup your first email account (Exchange or ActiveSync) by filling out your name, email address and password.


The account setup should be fully automated.


Notice if you like you can change the account settings or add another account from the wizard.  just click Finish to complete this account setup.

9) We need to set the new profile to be the default.   Do this by clicking the dropdown for “Always use this profile” and select the one we just created.

10) Cleanup – you can now delete the old profile if you like.  Deleting the profile will not remove the data files.  You will have to go back and do that manually.  By default the old data files were at %USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook (in my case that was: C:\Users\dstolts\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook)

If you want to see the change you can drill down to the outlook data file settings from the mail control panel app ProfilePropertiesData filesSettingsOutlook Data File Settings


You can also get the information from the Account settings screen.  ProfilePropertiesEmail AccountsE-Mail Tab- Click the account and the location of the data file will be listed.


You can now go ahead and create additional accounts if needed.

If you want to copy the old OST file you can copy it to the new location as long as it is not in use.  If it is in use, try closing any apps that might have it open.  If that fails try restarting your computer and not running outlook until after you create the new profile.  I have not personally tried this so let me know if you have success. This may save you some time downloading a large mailbox.

Tip: If you find the OST is still put in the %USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook folder it is likely because there is already an .OST file of the same name in the destination folder. Try moving it somewhere else.  You can try copying it back once the account is successfully setup.

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About Dan Stolts ITProGuru

Dan Stolts (The "ITProGuru") is a technology expert who is a master of systems management and security. He is proficient in many Microsoft products especially in the server area (Windows Server, System Center, Exchange, SharePoint, Virtualization, Etc) and holds many certifications including MCT, MCITP, MCSE, TS, etc. Dan is currently specializing in System Management and Security and is also very passionate about virtualization technologies. Dan is and has been a very active member of the community. He is president of Boston User Groups, Founder of Virtualization Group Boston, Founder of North East Leaders and serves on many IT Community group boards. He is in the process of writing his first book on building technology communities. He is a believer in social networking and can be reached on twitter @ITProGuru. He has participated in many non-technology community groups such as: Rotary Club, Lions Club, local Chambers of Commerce and is a mentor for the local high schools. Dan is an enthusiastic advocate of technology and is passionate about helping others. Dan's lifelong passion has been and continues to be to help and teach others!

11 thoughts on “How To Change Default Data File (.OST) Location in Office 2013

  1. hey thanks for your support, but i need to save both of the file .pst in while set up exchange.
    i have a data file .pst and i can not make the new messages to be saved on my old .pst file :-( all the new file can be saved on .ost file it is easy to make the new messages saved on the outlook 2010, 2007& 2003 but on 2013 is not working

    You can open the old .PST and then drag and drop the old messages to the new .OST. Once you do this, you will also be able to see these messages via outlook web access. If you want to move files from the OST to the PST you can do that too. Just drag and drop. Open and find items in an archive Outlook Data File (.pst)