Tools to Export Outlook Email From PST Files

Today we’ll examine two Windows software products that can export email from your Microsoft Outlook .pst file and turn them into pdf files.

Microsoft Outlook remains the most widely used desktop email client in the world. For all of Outlook’s great capabilities, it’s not very useful for exporting email and converting it to a different format. For example, in Outlook 2010, the native export capabilities are limited to saving email to a text file, an Outlook template, or a single Outlook .msg, html or mht file.

Outlook's native ability to export email is limited.
Outlook’s native email export abilities are limited

While it is possible to export a small quantity of selected emails to text format, this quickly becomes a tedious chore. You can export a large quantity of emails to MSG format by selecting them in the mail list,  then dragging them out of the Outlook mail list and dropping them into a Windows folder. Yet exporting from Outlook to other formats are limited to a single file, and no control is provided  over the naming of the exported files.

Two products that can improve your experience with exporting Outlook email  are:  MessageExport add-in for Outlook, and PstViewer Pro.   These products are both similar in their functionality, but yet quite different in their approaches.  For example, while MessageExport works from inside Outlook, Pst Viewer Pro works independently of Outlook.

The product that is the best choice for you will likely come down to whether you prefer to work inside or outside of Outlook. Free trials are available for either product so you can try both before making a purchase decision.

MessageExport Add-in for Outlook

Using MessageExport is straightforward. Select the emails from the
Outlook mail list, choose the export format from the drop down list
(these are called Export Profiles), and click the Export button. 
MessageExport Outlook toolbar
MessageExport Outlook integration
select all messages in your Outlook mail list, just type control-A.
MessageExport add-in for Outlook export formats
Select the Export format profile from the Outlook toolbar

MessageExport is an add-in that is tightly integrated with Outlook. It expands Outlook’s capabilities to to bulk export email to the following formats:

CSV (Excel)

MessageExport is very strong with Outlook to PDF conversion. You can tell MessageExport how it should handle the email file attachments, such as embedding the attachments as separate files within the PDF document, extracting the attachments, or converting them into the PDF image.  There is also support for ISO 190005-1, the international standard for email archiving to PDF.

MessageExport includes a scheduling feature. You can use it to run any export profile on a recurring basis. The timer can be set to run based on the number of minutes, such as 5 minutes, 60 minutes, or 600 minutes.

Schedule email export and conversion operations from Outlook pst files with MessageExport
Schedule recurring Outlook email export operations

MessageExport gives you a lot of control over configuring the Outlook email export operations. All of the selections that you see in the drop down list are customizable in important ways, including the target folder for export, and how the resulting files should be named.

While exporting thousands of emails from Outlook, it may be desirable to apply a special naming plan to the resulting files. MessageExport has you covered, allowing you to create complex combinations of naming schemes with 28 different pieces of information from the email and connecting characters. For example, you could create a name that includes the sender’s email address, sent date, and time received down the he second.  There are virtually limitless combinations.

How to name exported Outlook email files.
Naming exported Microsoft Outlook email files

MesageExport is a useful add-in for Microsoft Outlook. If you need to expand Outlook’s ability to export email messages, or if you want to automate email export from Outlook to a particular format, then try MessageExport.

Leaving your job? How to take your Outlook email with you.

Microsoft Outlook has existed since the days of MS-DOS, before 1997.  There are probably billions of  Outlook .pst files, or personal storage files in the world. Each contains a wealth of a history, thousands of email messages, contacts, calendar items, journal entries, notes, and file attachments.  Until Outlook 2003,  pst files had a size limit of 2GB, forcing users to create even more PST files, lest the file become corrupt and they lose their data.

If a company was organized, these old .pst files were archived in a centralized data vault where they remain until needed for legal reasons. Or they were converted to different formats such as PDF/A and then archived.

When leaving a job, a worker would understandably want to make a copy of a pst file. From the employee’s perspective, a .pst file contains precious contact information which would be useful in a job search. Employers often wish to prevent employees from taking PST files with them, seeing this practice as a threat to their intellectual property. 

Some employers implement perimeter encryption.  This means that if an employee copies a .pst file to a flash drive or any other removable media, they will be unable to view the file at home; the file is only decrypted when the flash drive is connected to the company network.

It’s important to respect your employer’s wishes about network data.  You may feel that the email messages you wrote belong to you, but your employer may feel otherwise.  You don’t want your employer to sue you for stealing company property.  Also remember that your employer may be retaining a copy of every file that is copied off the company network, thereby holding employees accountable. Copying your email messages or even destroying them from inside of MS Outlook will not permanently remove the messages from your employers email backups.

Assuming your employer didn’t encrypt the pst file when you copied it to your flash drive, you could buy your own copy of Outlook and use to access the pst file.  The downside of this is that it could a week or more for the files to become fully indexed by Windows, making it very difficult or impossible to find the data you need today by searching in Outlook. 

An alternative to Outlook that would allow immediate searching and viewing of the emails in your .pst file would be to use a 3rd party .pst file viewer, such as PST Viewer Pro, which can also read individual Outlook .msg files as well as pst files.

Copying PST files can be difficult, however. Since the 2GB size limit was removed in Outlook 2003, PST files may be gigantic, maybe 20 GB or even larger.  You’ll need a good sized flash disk and a lot of time to copy that file.

Maybe you would prefer to be more selective, and not take the entire pst file. An alternative to taking the entire PST file would be to just copy the most important emails. If you drag and drop a selection of messages from Outlook to a desktop folder, they will be converted to a .msg file, which can also be opened in Outlook or a msg/pst file viewer.

A helpful tool for exporting and organizing Outlook email messages is MessageExport. It’s an add-in for Outlook that can export entire email folders. MessageExport can save emails to PDF (either one email to one PDF file, or many emails to one PDF file), or export the selected messages to a single MBOX file for later import to Thunderbird.

MessageExport lets you create thousands of possible combinations for exporting Outlook message that can be combined into unique “export profiles” to suite just about any need. It also has a scheduler to automatically export new emails on a regular basis.
For example, say you set up a folder in Outlook called “Kudos,” into which you copied every nice email your boss sent you. Since these emails could be helpful in a job search some day, why not save them?  MessageExport could look into the Kudos folder every day, and if it sees that you copied in a new message, it can save it as a pdf file that you could easily take with you. 

Have you copied your PST file from a company you worked at? What was your result? Tell us below.