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Change default location for pst and ost files

I’d like to keep all my Outlook data in a different folder than Outlook uses by default. I therefore have moved the pst-file that Outlook automatically created to my custom folder.

I also have some additional pst-files in that folder which I occasionally use (and disconnect afterwards). However, Outlook keeps going to the default location when trying to create or add a pst-file.

Is there any way I can change the default to my own location?

Personally, I’d like to keep my pst-files in a folder called Outlook which is a subfolder of the My Documents folder. In order for Outlook to default to that location when opening a pst-file or creating a new one, you can make a change in the Registry.

In a similar way, you can change the default location for ost-files used by Exchange.

ForcePSTPath Registry value

Key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\<version>\Outlook
Value name: ForcePSTPath
Value type: REG_EXPAND_SZ
Value: path to your storage folder

As the Value you give the path to the folder where you want to keep your pst-files. You do not need to use quotes for this path, even if it contains spaces.
Example; D:\My Documents\Outlook

Outlook will now use this path by default when creating a new pst-file or when connecting to an existing pst-file.

Note 1: Changing this key does not move any existing connected pst-files to this path; you’ll have to change that manually.

Note 2: Do not set the path to a network location as this is not supported nor recommended by Microsoft as it could lead to slow performance, data corruption or even data loss. Also keep this in mind in case your My Documents folder is being redirected to a network share.

Using Exchange

If you are also using an Exchange account, then modifying this registry key will also save any newly created ost-files in this location. If you want to set a different location for ost-files, then you’ll need to add another registry key;

Key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\<version>\Outlook
Value name: ForceOSTPath
Value type: REG_EXPAND_SZ
Value: path to your storage folder

Note: Again, make sure that this location is on your local hard drive. Setting this location to a network share would also completely defeat the purpose of caching and would only cause more I/O and network work bandwidth.

Using IMAP and the Outlook Connector

Adding these registry keys will not affect the default location for newly created pst- and ost-files for IMAP and Outlook Connector accounts.

The only way to change the location of the pst- and ost-files for these account types is by using Symbolic Links. Detailed instructions on how to do that can be found in the guide: Moving an IMAP pst-file or Hotmail ost-file

Setting the default via Group Policy

In a corporate network environment, setting the default location for pst- and ost-files is usually something you want to set via Group Policy. You can find the setting under:

Microsoft Outlook <version> –> Miscellaneous-> PST Settings

  • Default location for OST files
  • Default location for PST files

When your users use multiple computers for which the location of the ost- or pst-file should be different as well (for instance, the location for these files should depend on whether they use a Desktop or a Laptop computer), then you can either place these devices in separate OUs and assign the different policies at OU level or place them in separate groups but in the same OU and use Group Policy filtering instead.


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