Where are Outlook Favorites stored RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • In Outlook, one of the most popular features is the Favorites Folders. Outlook combines Favorites Folders from different accounts into one section on the top left corner, users can access to their Favorites Folders easily.

    Regarding the Outlook Favorites folders, I’ve seen the question “How to back up the Outlook Favorites folders?” Or “Where are Outlook Favorites stored so that I can make a backup?”

    In many discussions, people say the Outlook.xml file stores the Outlook Favorites information and that we should save this file if we need to back up the Outlook Favorites Folders.

    The Outlook.xml file is located in this path:

    C:\Users\Username \AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Outlook

    However, this seems to be WRONG based on my tests.

    I tested in Outlook 2013 which is configuring an Exchange Account. Before opening Outlook, I deleted the Outlook.xml file from the computer, but the Favorites Folders are still available. And after I existed the Outlook, a new Outlook.xml had been generated. Meanwhile, I tried to replace the Outlook.xml file with the tested Outlook.xml on another computer, it turned out the Favorites Folder won’t display in the new Outlook Client.

    What I found is: The file Outlook.xml doesn’t store the Outlook Favorites folders.

    Where are the Favorites folders stored?

    1. Still with my Outlook 2013 and the Exchange Account, my Favorites Folders show below:

    2. When I logon the OWA for this account, I see the same Favorites Folders listed there:

    3. So I wonder whether it’s a coincidence or it syncs between Outlook and OWA. Then in Outlook, I added a Test folder to the Favorites:

    A few seconds later, I refreshed my OWA page:

    4. Exactly the same! The Favorites Folders sync between Outlook and OWA, we can guess that they are stored in the mailbox.

    If the information is stored in the mailbox, can we find out whether it’s stored as a message or any other type of object in the mailbox?

    Unfortunately, No. I’ve searched a lot but found little about this. We know it’s stored in the mailbox, but we can’t pick it out from the mailbox or the .ost file. This basically makes the idea of “backup” impossible.

    As the scenario above is for an Exchange Account, how about other kinds of Accounts in Outlook?

    1. Added an IMAP account in Outlook, its Inbox was automatically added to the Favorites:

    2. Added a “test – IMAP” folder of this account to Favorites manually.

    When I logged on OWA, I could still see Inbox, Sent Items, Deleted Items, test listed in Favorites – it hasn’t changed on OWA, the Inbox and test – IMAP folder of the IMAP account don’t exist there. It makes sense as OWA should only display items from the Exchange Account.

    I did a test with a POP3 account then. When the POP3 account is created, no folder in this account is created in the Favorites automatically. But we can still add folders from the POP3 account to the Favorites list.

    Here are the steps to reset the Favorites for your reference:

    1. Press Win + R to start the “Run” box, input “outlook.exe /resetnavpane” in the blank field, press Enter:

    2. The “resetnavpane” switch clears and regenerates the Navigation Pane for the current profile. The Outlook Favorites is part of the Navigation Pane so the switch will reset it too. After running the switch, I got this:

    The default Favorites folders from the Exchange Account is: Inbox, Sent Items, Deleted Items.

    The default for IMAP is: Inbox.

    POP3 doesn’t have a default Favorite folder.

    In conclusion, what I found based on the tests are:

    • The Outlook.xml file doesn’t store the Outlook Favorites Folders.
    • For an Exchange Account, the Favorites Folders information is stored in the mailbox, if we use Outlook in Cached Exchange Mode, it’s stored in the .ost file. However, we cannot extract the Favorites from the mailbox or the .ost file, so we cannot make a backup of the Favorites Folders.
    • For an Exchange Account, when it’s created in Outlook, the Inbox, Sent Items, Deleted Items folders are automatically added to Outlook.
    • For an IMAP Account, when it’s created in Outlook, its Inbox is added to the Favorites automatically.
    • For a POP3 Account, when it’s created in Outlook, nothing is added to the Favorites automatically.
    • We can add folders from the IMAP/POP3 account to Favorites, but they are only stored in the local mailbox (.ost or .pst), it doesn’t sync with the Exchange OWA. Neither can we make a backup of them.
    • If we want to reset the Favorites, open the Run box, type “outlook.exe /resetnavpane”, press Enter.

    Hope these help.

    Please click to vote if the post helps you. This can be beneficial to other community members reading the thread.

    Friday, May 27, 2016 9:43 AM

All replies

  • Hello, 

    You can find favorite mailbox folders in the "Root Container\Common Views" associated content table. The content of this table is messages with folder ENTRYID in the PR_WLINK _ENTRYID property (0x684C0102). 

    For favorite public folders i expect  "Root Container\Shortcuts" folder. Where root container is top level folder of message store. Those folders located at the same tree level as Top of information store.  You can test it with MFCMAPI Microsoft tool

    Monday, July 25, 2016 6:03 PM
  • so is it possible to backup favorite forlder ?

    is it possible to force the display of favorite folder Panel ?

    Tuesday, May 14, 2019 3:58 PM