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Importing Outlook Express DBX files into Windows Vista

Importing Outlook Express DBX files into Windows Vista

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I received a question from a user who had recently upgraded from XP and they wanted to know how to import their Outlook Express DBX files into the Vista and the new email client called Windows Mail.  The Outlook Express files in question are DBX files which store user emails.  To get these files into Windows Mail isn't a straightforward task and here's the process:

To import from the Outlook Express into the Windows Mail do the following:

1. Make a new folder under the current user's Documents, such as Documents\Oldmail. This directory needs to be within the user's space so as not to prevent possible access permissions problems.

2. Copy all the dbx files that you have backed-up into this folder, making sure that folders.dbx is included.

3. Make sure none of these files are 'Read only' otherwise the import will fail.
To do this Go to 'Edit / Select' all in Windows Explorer and select all the dbx files. Then right click on the selection and choose Properties and ensure that the read only attribute of the files is unchecked.

4. In Windows Mail go to 'File / Import Messages' and choose 'Outlook Express 6' format and choose to import from a directory

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5. Use the 'Browse' button to go to the directory of dbx files. Make sure that when you set the directory that the path is correct (NOTE: Vista can put the wrong path in here sometimes, so instead of c:\Documents\Oldmail it may put c:\Documents\Oldmail\Documents\Oldmail, so just make sure this is right, if not, change it.

6. Finally select the files from which you wish to import messages and click 'Import' and everything should work ok.

This solution was courtesy of FreeBits.co.uk

UPDATE (21st June 2007)

It's worth checking out this resource which has been put together by one of the Microsoft MVPs:


 Also, there's the Windows Mail newsgroup which has loads of great answers too:


  • I did all that and the .dbx files show up in the Oldmail folder, and folders.dbx is there. But when I try to import via Windows Mail the Oldmail folder is empty.

    I unchecked "read only.

    Any ideas please.

  • Hi Peter

    Instead of navigating into the folder, try just selecting it and then click "select folder" - see if that works.

    Just out of interest, if you upgrade from XP to Vista on your PC then the migration from Outlook Express to Windows Mail happens automatically


  • I didn't upgrade, it's a new PC. I did the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard only to discover that it's not fully compatible with Vista. Well done Microsoft.

    Not quite sure what you mean. Do you mean just click the folder without using the import wizard? If I click it, it opens and the dbx files are all there, but if I use the import wizard they are not there. Pity I just can't drag and drop somehow.

  • Hi Peter,

    :-( you should have used Easy Transfer Wizard http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsvista/buyorupgrade/easytransfer.mspx

    Regarding DBX I mean in the import wizard select the folder that contains the DBX files and then click "Select Folder" button.  Looking at your screenshots you seem to be actually going into the folder then clicking select folder.


  • I actually tried it all too. It imports the messages but not all the folders that had my saved messages in. Any ides why? I didn everything you said.

  • I am running into exactly the same problem- I only click oldmail,(do not go into the folder)make sure that the path is correct, and the report back is an error that the file is empty. I previously checked, and it is not.

  • This procedure worked like a charm for me.  I have a new Gateway with Vista and an old Laptop with failing onboard memory.  Since I have limited on-time with the old laptop, I transferred my mail .dbx files to CD and then uploaded them to the Vista machine.  I found it was mandatory to have the folders.dbx file, without it, Vista expected mail files only and didn't recognize the folders (I tried a couple of folders just to see if it would work and it didn't because of the missing folders.dbx file).

  • I've exactly the same problem as Peter ie importing dbx files - they are there but when I use the wizard it says no messages can be found. It doesn't appear to be looking for dbx files despite selecting MS outlook express 6 on the select program page

    Can you help?

  • Hi,

    I had exactly the same your problem.

    To fix it you need to copy the outlook folder you want to import in your personal user space, such as under "My Documents" folder. After that you can import without any problem.

    That's all folks!!!

    Ciao. Guido


  • Hey Guido thanks for you fix!

    The more the merrier :-)


  • Hi,

    I've had vista on my laptop for a couple of months but have had to change back to XP. I've alot of old mail that I need to transfer. Is there anyway to trasfer this so outlook can "see" the mail when it's opened



  • Hi Martin

    Obviously I'm sad that you have to switch back to XP - can I ask why this is?  Is there anyway I can help to keep you on Vista?

    Let me know if I can help you otherwise I'll help you get your email sorted on XP.



  • Hello,

    I am having a problem with Vista Home Premium, that one of my customers is using.

    I have tried all the suggestions that James has mentioned. The Import folder has been created under Documents, within the Users folder area.

    The attribute ‘Read Only’ has been removed, and this has been applied to all sub folders. When examining the attributes after this has been completed, the ‘Read Only’ attribute is back on.

    Trying to import the .dbx folders into Windows Mail via the wizard shows nothing in the ‘Import Window’.

    The path name has been checked as mentioned.

    In order to try and import another way, the Outlook Express folders where imported into Outlook, and then imported into Windows Mail on another machine using Vista Business. These files were then copied across to the offending machine, and Windows Mail was then used to try and import them, via the Wizard, but once again the files were not shown in the Windows Mail import screen.  Also this has been tried with exported Windows Mail files. These too were not recognised.

    The main problem appears to be Windows Mail not recognising particular file extensions when importing files via the wizard on certain versions of Vista, and in certain areas of the Windows File Structure.

  • I have the same problem and the message keeps saying there are no files.  I bought a new computer with Vista however have the Office 2003 discs so does anyone think if I upgrade my old computer it will help to then import the email messages?  You think microsoft could of done a bit better on this one

  • Hi All,

    I've found some info on one of our MVP sites here: http://www.oehelp.com/backup.aspx#oe2wm

    There's also the Windows Mail newsgroup which is a good place to ask your questions too.


    Hope this helps


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