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Import large amounts of eml-files into Outlook

Upon cleaning up my hard disk, I came across a lot of eml-files.

Some of them are messages I saved directly while others are exports from email applications that I used over the years like Outlook Express, Thunderbird and even Lotus Notes.

I noticed that recent versions of Outlook can now also directly open eml-files but I actually want to store them within Outlook so all my entire email archive is kept together.

How can I import all these eml-files into Outlook?

Button Import EML files into OutlookImporting eml-files directly into Outlook isn’t possible but you can still achieve it by making a little detour via Windows Live Mail.

Note: If you only have a small amount of eml-files, you can easily save the opened eml-message to a folder within Outlook by using the “Move To Folder” command (CTRL+SHIFT+V).

Drag & drop into Windows Live Mail

Unlike Outlook, Windows Live Mail (WLM) allows you to drag & drop your eml-files from Explorer directly into the message list. Once they are in Windows Live Mail, you can use its Export function to get the messages into Outlook.

  1. If you haven’t already, download and install Windows Live Mail.
  2. Open Windows Live Mail (WLM).
    If it prompts you to add an account, dismiss it and eventually it will open without a configured account.
  3. Open Explorer and open the folder containing your eml-files.
  4. Position and resize the windows of WLM and Explorer in such a way that you can see them both. For instance, by placing one of them at the left half of your screen and the other on the right or split your screen into top and bottom.
  5. Drag & drop the eml-files from an Explorer window into the Message List of WLM.
    You can also create multiple folders in WLM if your sorted your eml-files in multiple folder in Explorer and prefer to keep them separate. You can drop them on a folder in the folder list of WLM as well. Additionally, see the note below.
  6. In WLM, choose: File-> Export email-> Email messages
  7. Choose: Microsoft Exchange
  8. Confirm that you indeed want to export to Microsoft Outlook or Microsoft Exchange.
  9. When prompted, select your Outlook profile or simply press OK; Outlook will be started in the background, which could take a while. If you prefer, you can also start Outlook yourself.
  10. From the Export Messages dialog window choose: Selected folders
  11. Select the folder that contains the email messages you added in step 5. If you stored them into multiple folders, hold the CTRL button while clicking on the folders that you wish to export.
  12. Click OK and then Finish to complete the export.
  13. In Outlook, locate the folder containing your exported messages.

Note: Subfolders (of for instance you Inbox) which you created in Windows Live Mail may show up as top-level folders in your mailbox in Outlook. The remaining folder structure will be kept intact so when you create a folder called “Export WLM” in step 5 and create your subfolders under that folder, it might be easier to find them back in Outlook.


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