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How to migrate emails in a PST to an IMAP account? RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hello.  I have created a backup of my email in a PST file.  In it are hundreds of different folders, with thousands of emails.  Separately, I have purchased email hosting through a private company.  I have an email account with that company (on their server), which is empty.  I want to upload all the email in the PST--including folder structure--to this new email account.  Then I want to use this email account with Outlook (2013) as IMAP.  After, I will have no use for the PST file (I will continue to create new, separate backups).  What is the proper way to do this?

    One way might be to:

    • Import the PST into Outlook.
    • Separately, add the new email account to Outlook as IMAP.
    • In Outlook, drag and drop each email folder from the PST into the IMAP account.

    This could be tedious though, if I have to drag and drop each folder individually.  Is there perhaps an easier method?

    Thanks in advance.

    Thursday, October 17, 2019 7:53 AM

All replies

  • Hi,

    >> add the new email account to Outlook as IMAP.

    Open Outlook, click File > Add account > Manual setup or additional server types > POP or IMAP.  For more details, please refer to Add an email account to Outlook.

    >> Import the PST into Outlook.

    In Outlook, click File > Open & Export > Import from another program or file > Outlook data file (.pst). For more details, please refer to Import email, contacts, and calendar from an Outlook .pst file.

    >> In Outlook, drag and drop each email folder from the PST into the IMAP account.

    If you'd like to open PST file in Outlook rather than import (File > Open & Export > Open Outlook Data File), then you can select emails in your PST fiel by Ctrl + A to copy all messages to your account's folders. Instead of dragging and dropping one by one.

    Hope this can be helpful.

    Regards,

    Aidan Wang


    Please remember to mark the replies as answers if they helped. If you have feedback for TechNet Subscriber Support, contact tnsf@microsoft.com.


    Friday, October 18, 2019 2:22 AM
    Moderator
  • Hi Aidan,

    Thanks for the reply.

    I see you gave instructions to me on how I could complete each of the three steps I listed.  But I wasn't asking how to do those.  I know how to do each of those steps.  I was asking if there was a better/faster/more efficient method.  

    >> If you'd like to open PST file in Outlook rather than import (File > Open & Export > Open Outlook Data File), then you can select emails in your PST fiel by Ctrl + A to copy all messages to your account's folders. Instead of dragging and dropping one by one.

    Are you saying this could be an alternate method?  If so, will this method copy all messages, folder, and sub-folders from the PST to my new mail account, and preserve folder structure?

    Thanks.

    Friday, October 18, 2019 8:37 AM
  • Hi,

    Thanks for your reply.

    No, this the way to select all the messages in a folder. If you'd like to copy all your messages, folders and sub-folder,  folder structure from the PST to your new mail account, please follow the steps below:

    1. Configure your new email account on your Outlook client.
    2. Import the PST file to your new account.
    3. Then all your messages and folder structure will be shown in your Outlook.


    >>I was asking if there was a better/faster/more efficient method.  

    As far as I know, this is the best and most convenient method to meet your needs. And I am afraid there is no official recommended tool for this.

    Hope this can be helpful.

    Regards,

    Aidan Wang


    Please remember to mark the replies as answers if they helped. If you have feedback for TechNet Subscriber Support, contact tnsf@microsoft.com.


    Friday, October 18, 2019 8:55 AM
    Moderator
  • Hi,

    >> In Outlook, drag and drop each email folder from the PST into the IMAP account.

    In addition, be sure to import PST directly into your account instead of opening PST in Outlook. If you import PST directly to your account, the message and folder structure will automatically appear in your account. So you don't need to drag and drop each email folder from the PST into your IMAP account.

    Regards,

    Aidan Wang


    Please remember to mark the replies as answers if they helped. If you have feedback for TechNet Subscriber Support, contact tnsf@microsoft.com.

    Friday, October 18, 2019 9:08 AM
    Moderator
  • >> Configure your new email account on your Outlook client.
    >> Import the PST file to your new account.
    >> Then all your messages and folder structure will be shown in your Outlook.

    OK let me try to understand.  

    First I should add my new email account as IMAP into Outlook.  Is that correct?

    Second, I should import the PST file into that new IMAP account.  Is that correct?

    Once that is complete, will all emails/folders/folder structure be uploaded to my online mail server (i.e. the same mail server connected to the IMAP account)?

    Thanks.

    Friday, October 18, 2019 9:23 AM
  • Hi,

    Yes, but it may take some time to sync the data to the server and the length of this time depends on the size of your data.

    Regards,

    Aidan Wang


    Please remember to mark the replies as answers if they helped. If you have feedback for TechNet Subscriber Support, contact tnsf@microsoft.com.

    Friday, October 18, 2019 9:54 AM
    Moderator
  • OK interesting.  And sure, I understand that syncing may take time, depending on mailbox size.  Can you give me a few days to test this?  After, I will report back here.

    Thanks!

    Friday, October 18, 2019 9:58 AM
  • @Aidan I am back, with an update. I carried out your instructions, but things did not go as expected.  Specifically, I

    • Added my new email account to Outlook client, and configured it to be an IMAP account.
    • In Outlook, into this new email account, I imported my PST file.  I imported all folders into the Inbox, as I had done with my previous IMAP account.  
    • In Outlook, all emails/folders/folder structure appeared in the account, as expected and as desired.  To be clear, all folders appeared as sub-folders of the Inbox (you can see a screenshot in the link below).
    • I waited several hours for Outlook to sync all the email to the online mail server.  As expected, during this time, in the bottom right hand corner, Outlook kept indicating it was 'Synchronizing' various folders.
    • After ~24 hours the 'Synchronizing' messages in Outlook stopped.
    • When I check the mail on my mail server (via webmail), all of the emails in my inbox are present, but none of the folders are present.
    • Furthermore, in Outlook, if I right click Inbox, select 'IMAP folders...,' and click the 'Query' button, it does not show any of the folders in-question.

    So, any ideas why the folders do not appear when I open IMAP folders?  Shouldn't they do so?

    Actually now that I think about it, here is another potential key piece of information.  I told you that after I began the import, Outlook began synchronizing folders, and after ~24 hours the 'Synchronizing' messages had ceased.  I left out a key detail.  About 8 hours after the synchronizing began, I accidentally closed Outlook, before the synchronizing had ceased.  When I did so, Outlook froze--it did not close properly.  I had to kill the application.  Then I shut down my computer, and did not re-start it for another ~8 hours (while I slept).  So, perhaps when I killed the application, it somehow prevented Outlook from properly adding these folders as IMAP?
    Monday, October 21, 2019 5:57 AM
  • Hi cagross99.

    Thanks for your update.

    I tested in my environment(The same steps as you), and the messages and folders are successfully synced on the webmail. So this method works. 

    According to your description, your folders have been successfully imported to your Outlook client. So the issue may caused by the process of syncing data to the server. Considering that there was a accident in your process. The freezing of Outlook may indeed prevented from properly syncing your folder to the server.

    In this situation, it is suggested to update your folders again: In Outlook, click Send / Receive > Send/Receive All Folders.

    Regards,

    Aidan Wang


    Please remember to mark the replies as answers if they helped. If you have feedback for TechNet Subscriber Support, contact tnsf@microsoft.com.

    Tuesday, October 22, 2019 8:40 AM
    Moderator
  • @aidan OK thanks for that.  I just initiated a new Send/Receive All Folders.   

    But, if/when the sync process completes successfully, when I right click Inbox, select 'IMAP folders...,' and click the 'Query' button, what *should* it display?  Should it display all of my email folders?  That is my assumption, mainly because that is what occurs with every other IMAP account of mine in Outlook.

    Thanks.
    Tuesday, October 22, 2019 8:45 AM
  • Hi cagross99,

    Thanks for your reply.

    >> But, if/when the sync process completes successfully, when I right click Inbox, select 'IMAP folders...,' and click the 'Query' button, what *should* it display? 

    Here in my environment, all my folders including the folders imported from PST are displayed.

    Regards,

    Aidan Wang


    Please remember to mark the replies as answers if they helped. If you have feedback for TechNet Subscriber Support, contact tnsf@microsoft.com.

    Tuesday, October 22, 2019 8:51 AM
    Moderator
  • OK thanks for that. In light of that, I have an udpate.  I clicked  Send/Receive All Folders as you suggested. In the bottom right, if I click the 'Send/Receive' area, a box comes up that indicates the process was complete, but that it synchronized only 'subscribed' folders for that account (screenshot). Furthermore, if I open IMAP folders, there is only one 'subscribed' folder:  Inbox.  Here are screenshots that show the 'subscribed IMAP folders' and 'all IMAP folders.'

    Thoughts?  Does this indicate that I should perhaps remove this email account and start over from the start ? I don't have a problem doing that.


    Tuesday, October 22, 2019 8:58 AM
  • Hi cagross99,

    Given this istuation, it can be difficult to "fix" your previous synchronization process. Since your account is going to sync data from the server to your Outlook client after new configuration, then your existing folder structure may be replaced by the folder structure now displayed on webmail. So please try creating a new proflie and configure your account on it and start over from the start rather than directly removing your account from the old profile. 

    Note: The messages you imported before are still there, so it is suggested to select "Replaced duplicates with items imported" when importing.

    Regards,

    Aidan Wang


    Please remember to mark the replies as answers if they helped. If you have feedback for TechNet Subscriber Support, contact tnsf@microsoft.com.


    Tuesday, October 22, 2019 9:18 AM
    Moderator
  • Since the folders are already in Outlook, is there a way to tell Outlook, "Make this folder an IMAP folder and sync it to the mail server?" 

    What I've done now is remove the account from Outlook.  In webmail, I also deleted all emails from the inbox, and then from trash.  I have now repeated the original setup process in Outlook.  It is currently syncing folders to the server.  I will try to make sure this is not interrupted.

    >> So please try creating a new proflie and configure your account on it and start over from the start rather than directly removing your account from the old profile. 

    I can of course create a new profile and test this.  But actually using a new profile for this email account, then migrating my remaining 10 email accounts from my old profile to the new profile, will be quite an undertaking.  It's unfortunate that a lot of Outlook issues still have to resort to that :-/  I hope we can come to a resolution without having to create a new profile. I think I'd even go the drag-and-drop route, rather than create a new profile.  Anyway, give me a day or two to monitor this new sync process.  I'll update you here.

    Tuesday, October 22, 2019 11:06 AM
  • Hey

    You can use the method mentioned below.

    Switching from POP to IMAP
    1. Choose File, and then Add Accounts.
    2. In the Add Account window, insert your Comcast email address and password. Then, click Next.
    3. By default, the account will be configured via IMAP, so click on Finish.

    Removing emails from the server option was initially taken during POP account configuration, emails would have been removed from the mail server as they were downloaded to the email client, so the recently configured IMAP account will not contain these emails.To avoid losing these emails during the switch from POP to IMAP, you must choose the emails contained in the different folders (inbox, subfolders, trash or sent items) on your POP account, and drag and drop them into the individual folder within your newly configured IMAP account. To be secure, you can also move and store these emails in an external folder.

    Tuesday, October 22, 2019 11:11 AM
  • Hi,

    It has been a while, how is everything going?

    >>is there a way to tell Outlook, "Make this folder an IMAP folder and sync it to the mail server?" 

    I'm afraid that there is no this option to do that.

    Regards,

    Aidan Wang


    Please remember to mark the replies as answers if they helped. If you have feedback for TechNet Subscriber Support, contact tnsf@microsoft.com.

    Friday, October 25, 2019 9:10 AM
    Moderator
  • Hi Aidan,

    Thanks for checking in.  I was going to update you soon.  As I mentioned in my previous message, about 72 hours ago I imported the PST file into the IMAP account, and Outlook began synchronizing folders to the mail server.  In that, it has made progress very slowly--it is still not 50% complete.  I'm not sure why synchronizing is going so slowly.  The PST file in-question is ~500 MB in size.  Any ideas on that?  Or is this expected for a PST of that size?

    >>is there a way to tell Outlook, "Make this folder an IMAP folder and sync it to the mail server?" 
    >> I'm afraid that there is no this option to do that.

    OK that's too bad.  But thanks for confirming.

    Friday, October 25, 2019 9:42 AM
  • I have an update.  The sync process completed, after 4+ days of continuous syncing. I watched as Outlook processed folder after folder--I could see it progressing through each of my folders.  When it was complete, I checked IMAP folders.  But again, none of my email folders were dipslayed :-(  (screenshot)  I checked webmail, and none of my email folders were present :-(  In webmail, the file size of all my email was only 13 MB (screenshot)--the size of the PST was ~500 MB).  

    So what's going on here?

    Sunday, October 27, 2019 5:24 AM
  • Hi cagross99,

    Thanks for your updates.

    According to the tests above, the only difference between me and you is the provider of the email account(I tested with Gmail account). Following the normal process, you should be able to properly add folders to the local and server side but failed. Your pst file size is not big so it should not be the cause. Now I am wondering if your account provider doesn't support syncing folders on Outlook to the server (to your IMAP folders) although you can see the folders in Outlook client. So it is suggested to contact your account provider for some imformation then come back here we do more research.

    Regards,

    Aidan Wang


    Please remember to mark the replies as answers if they helped. If you have feedback for TechNet Subscriber Support, contact tnsf@microsoft.com.

    Monday, October 28, 2019 7:22 AM
    Moderator
  • >> Now I am wondering if your account provider doesn't support syncing folders on Outlook to the server (to your IMAP folders) although you can see the folders in Outlook client. So it is suggested to contact your account provider for some imformation then come back here we do more research.

    Well during our discussion, I have been having a parallel discussion with my hosting provider.  They say they cannot give any information regarding Outlook.  They say they don't support it, so they can't confirm if any particular import methods will or will not work.  When I mentioned the method you suggested (i.e. create IMAP account in Outlook, then import PST), they said only, "You'll have to try it and see."  At no point though have they explicitly said they do not support syncing folders from Outlook to the server.  Actually, one thing they HAVE confirmed about Outlook is that I should be able to drag and drop email folders--within Outlook---from the PST account to the IMAP account, and they should sync properly to the mail server.  That will be my last resort.  But I am still in discussion with them about the next course of action.  Let's keep this issue open for another week or so while I work with them on that.  I will update here when complete.

    Thanks.

    Monday, October 28, 2019 7:41 AM
  • Hi,

    Ok, I will wait for your updates:)

    At the same time, I will continue to do more research on this issue.

    Regards,

    Aidan Wang


    Please remember to mark the replies as answers if they helped. If you have feedback for TechNet Subscriber Support, contact tnsf@microsoft.com.



    Monday, October 28, 2019 7:53 AM
    Moderator
  • @Aidan

    I have an update.  I have tried the drag and drop method in Outlook, using these instructions.  To be clear, my old email account is already loaded into Outlook—it contains all my emails and email folders. I then added my new DreamHost mail account to Outlook as IMAP.  In addition, I specified INBOX for ‘Root Folder Path’ as instructed to me by a recent DreamHost support agent.  

    Once the DreamHost email account was added to Outlook, I carried out several tests:

    1. In Outlook, drag and drop one email from old account into DreamHost account Inbox.  This worked. The email appeared in the Outlook inbox for my DreamHost account, and I confirmed it was synced to webmail.

    2. In Outlook, drag and drop one folder from old account into DreamHost account Inbox.  This did not work.  Specifically, I can drag and drop the folder, but when I ‘drop’ the folder into Inbox, nothing happens.  The email folder does not appear in the Outlook inbox for my DreamHost account.  Also, nothing is synced to webmail.

    3. In Outlook, right click a folder in my old account, select ‘copy,’ and specify the DreamHost Inbox as the recipient.  Again, when I do this, nothing changes in Outlook, and nothing is synced to webmail.

    There is one more piece of information that I think we may want to address first. In all my other Outlook IMAP accounts, if I right click 'Inbox' and select IMAP folders, the resulting list contains "Inbox" (screenshots).  But with my new DreamHost account, that list does *not* contain Inbox (screenshot).  Why is that occurring?  I strongly feel that I did not properly add the DreamHost account to Outlook.  I also feel that this is causing the issue I described above.  What do you think?

    What about specifying INBOX for “Root Folder Path?”  Was that correct?  I’ve never had to do that for any other IMAP account in Outlook.

    So the big questions are:

    a) Should 'inbox' display in 'IMAP folders?'  If so, why is it not?

    b)  Does specifying INBOX for “Root Folder Path" do anything?

    Thursday, October 31, 2019 3:44 AM
  • Hi,

    Thanks for your reply.

    >> Should 'inbox' display in 'IMAP folders?'  If so, why is it not?

    You can try clear the "Root Folder Path" and you may see your Inbox displayed in "IMAP folders".(When I specifying INBOX for “Root Folder Path", my Inbox can not be displayed in "IMAP folders" either.)

    >> Does specifying INBOX for “Root Folder Path" do anything?

    This can change your folders structure. For your reference: IMAP: Folder structure and Junk E-mail filter.
    (
    Please Note: Since the web site is not hosted by Microsoft, the link may change without notice. Microsoft does not guarantee the accuracy of this information.)

    Regards,

    Aidan Wang


    Please remember to mark the replies as answers if they helped. If you have feedback for TechNet Subscriber Support, contact tnsf@microsoft.com.

    Thursday, October 31, 2019 8:08 AM
    Moderator
  • Ok thanks for that.  Give me some time to discuss this with DreamHost support.  So far, they have confirmed two things, which seem to be in contradiction to each other:

    1.  I definitely need to specify "INBOX" for Root Folder Path.

    2.  Once I add my IMAP account to Outlook, when I view IMAP folders, the folder "Inbox" *should* be displayed in the list.  

    What I am seeing is that if I do #1, it prevents #2.  If I refrain from doing #1, then #2 occurs.  I'm still discussing that with them.  Give me up to a week to get back to you here.

    Saturday, November 2, 2019 7:01 AM
  • Hi,

    It has been a while.

    If there is ny update, please feel free to post back.

    Regards,

    Aidan Wang


    Please remember to mark the replies as answers if they helped. If you have feedback for TechNet Subscriber Support, contact tnsf@microsoft.com.

    Tuesday, November 5, 2019 7:39 AM
    Moderator
  • Still working on this.  DreamHost is trying to troubleshoot why "INBOX" does not appear in IMAP Folders.  Can we keep this open another week?
    Tuesday, November 5, 2019 1:49 PM
  • Hi,

    Thanks for your reply.

    I have tested again with my Gmail account, the folders were successfully imported to the Outlook and can be synced to the server(Webmail), once again verified that this method is feasible.

    If possible, do you mind marking helpful replies or your own reply as answer so that we can keep the post for more time. I will wait for your updates and do more research on this issue together.

    Regards,

    Aidan Wang


    Please remember to mark the replies as answers if they helped. If you have feedback for TechNet Subscriber Support, contact tnsf@microsoft.com.

    Wednesday, November 6, 2019 9:00 AM
    Moderator
  • @Aidan

    >> I have tested again with my Gmail account, the folders were successfully imported to the Outlook and can be synced to the server(Webmail), once again verified that this method is feasible.

    OK thanks for that.

    >> If possible, do you mind marking helpful replies or your own reply as answer so that we can keep the post for more time. 

    Do you want me to mark something as an answer, even though it is not the answer?

    I have a question.  So far I am having problems moving a folder from one IMAP account to another.  As a test, I would like to export the source IMAP account as PST, re-import that into Outlook, then try to copy a folder from that PST account into the destination IMAP account.  I have a question about importing a PST file into Outlook. When I go through the import process, it requires that I import the PST into an existing mailbox (screenshot).  Is there a way to import this PST and all its emails and folders, without doing so into an existing mailbox?  If not, how exactly can I import this PST into Outlook, and have all its emails/folders display?

    Thanks.

    Saturday, November 9, 2019 11:37 AM