A PST Viewer App for Apple iPad

 Many iPad users also own a Windows desktop or laptop computer with Microsoft Outlook.  If you’re one of those adventurous people who is looking to make the switch completely to the iPad, here’s how you can bring your legacy Outlook email along with you, without a complicated email conversion process.

Pst Mail is a pst viewer for iPad. With Pst Mail,  you can search and view your Microsoft Outlook PST files.   At $9.99, Pst Mail provides a lot of value for the buck.

This pst file viewer supports iOS 6 and also iPhone 5. It has built in support for Dropbox and iTunes files.  Given iPad’s inability to receive standard USB drives, being able to load large files from a cloud drive is a huge plus and really the only practical way to proceed.

We moved a small 12 MB pst file containing about 1,000 email messages to Dropbox (note: we used a live pst file and have had to blur out some of the data for privacy reasons). After entering our Dropbox credentials in Pst Mail, it easily transferred the pst file to our iPad.

The next thing Pst Mail asked us was if we wanted to scan the file in order to map email addresses from Exchange to Internet style?  We tapped on “Create Map” and Pst Mail completed the operation in mere seconds.

Pst Mail’s navigation is very intuitive and simple to use. On the left side of your iPad, you select your pst file, then select the folder you want to view. A mail list will appear on the left side. Tap an email message you want to view and it will open in full screen.

Screen shot of pst folders in iPad
How Pst folders are displayed

A nice feature of Pst Mail is its ability to allow you to reply to an email in your pst file. Reply works as expected, with the message appearing in your reply email.

Searching your pst file is straight forward. Touch the magnifying class icon, and enter your search term.

Search box for Pst Mail. Search Pst file on Apple iPad
Quick search a pst file on your iPad

You can search across the From, To, Subject fields, or all of them. An advanced search option lets you search across additional fields, including CC/BCC, message text, attachment names, search by date range,  as well as searching subfolders. These items are off by default, and that’s our only complaint about Pst Mail; we think they should be on by default so that new users will have a better first-search experience.

Pst Mail's advanced search feature lets you search Outlook .pst files on iPad
Advanced Pst file search screen

Pst Mail did a good job rendering our html, text and rich text emails. It also provides access to email file attachments. Just click the paper click icon in the top right corner of your iPad screen.  Pressing the paper clip logo displays the email’s file attachments. Touch the file attachment and you’ll have the opportunity to select an application to open the file.

While we tested a small PST file, we have not yet had time to complete a larger stress test by uploading a 2GB or greater sized pst file.  When we have completed that test, we’ll come back and update this review.  Still, Pst Mail had no hesitation in performing brilliantly with our test of a small 12 MB pst file.  Based our experience, we liked what we saw and we have no hesitation in recommending Pst Mail for opening small pst files.

Learn more about Pst Mail at the Apple’s iTunes store. We think it’s a bargain at $9.99.

There is also a Lite version of Pst Mail that you can download free. It’s primarily for demo purposes and provides limited access to your emails. 

“How can I open a PST file without Outlook?”

Opening a PST file without Outlook.

Thanks to Microsoft’s release of the PST file specification to software developers, its now possible to open PST files without Outlook.
Microsoft Outlook email client is the original source of billions of .PST files in the world. For years, their PST format was a closed secret. But in 2010, Microsoft began publishing parts of the PST specification. This has allowed software developers to create tools such as PST Viewers (often referred to as Outlook Viewers) that can give you access to your emails, even if you don’t have Microsoft Outlook installed on your computer.

If you need to open a PST file, why not just install Outlook? That is certainly a fair question, because Outlook is an excellent email client (although it can be a bit pricey). I have used Outlook for years, and I love it.
But there are occasions where its easy to envision the usefulness of a PST viewer:

If you used Outlook at work, but you don’t have it at home and you wish to have access to your work email.  
If you have moved on to a different email client, like Lotus Notes or Thunderbird, and its important to you have access to your email history, then a Outlook Viewer may be the right choice.
If you have several PST files you need to search immediately and you don’t have days to wait for Outlook to index your files, a PST viewer can give you quick access to your emails.

How do Outlook .PST Viewers Work?

Most Outlook viewers are fairly straight forward and function in a manner similar to Outlook.  When the viewer starts, you can select a PST file from a list.  This will cause the Outlook Viewer to examine the file and present a list of emails messages, which you can sort by different criteria.
Main menu of an Outlook Viewer software application for reading .PST files.
PST Viewer Pro menu showing emails

The Outlook viewer shown here is Pst Viewer Pro by Encryptomatic LLC. A free trial can be downloaded for the PST Viewer website.
Outlook Viewers will vary in quality
and the features they offer. An advanced reader like PST Viewer Pro will allow
you to convert email messages to PDF and other formats. You’ll be able to reply
to messages using your existing email client. It’s often possible to do a deep
search of the PST file to find important emails.  They should give you full access to the file
attachments and embedded images with the email message.  You should be able to expand an email to a
full screen view by clicking on it.

Although there are some readers on
the market that are free, be careful that you don’t install a viewer that tries
to install spyware on your computer. Free viewers may just provide the most
basic features and may require you to view commercial offers during the
installation process. They may try to recoup their costs by installing software on you computer that serve ads, or prospect for other services they can sell you.

A paid commercial Outlook viewer should not behave that
way, if the developer is credible.  Also
be certain that the installation package is “code signed,” by the developer. You can
tell if its signed because when you start the installer, Microsoft will
announce who the developer is. An unsigned installer will be from an “Unknown”

Outlook Viewers are helpful tools
that make your emails more accessible, especially in environments where Outlook
is not installed or when it’s not convenient to wait for Outlook to complete
indexing of the PST files. 
The best way to experience the
benefits of an Outlook viewer is download a free trial and see for yourself if
it is a good fit for your needs.

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.

How to search an Outlook .PST file that has not been indexed.

Perform a Quick Search of Outlook .PST Files with PST Viewer Pro software.
Searching .pst files for an important email can be done from within Microsoft Outlook. Outlook will return excellent search results if the .pst file has been indexed.

If the .pst file has not been indexed, Outlook may require several days to complete the process. Until the indexing is completed, any results returned in a search operation may be incomplete. 

What can you do if you do not have Microsoft Outlook on your computer, or if you need to search a .PST file that has not  been indexed?  For people in the litigation industry who are receiving .pst files as part of the discovery process that must be completed quickly, waiting days for Outlook to finishing indexing  a .pst file is not acceptable.

There are software applications that can perform an immediate search of Outlook .pst files.  PST Viewer Pro is a viewer that will allow you to search, print, view, and export email stored in Outlook .pst files.  Pst Viewer Pro does not depend on the presence of Microsoft Outlook, as some applications do, to be able to open .pst files.  After a brief enumerating period where it scans the messages in the pst file, Pst Viewer Pro can allow you to perform an immediate search on an entire .pst file, or just selected folders.

To begin the process, first download a 15 free trial of PST Viewer Pro and start it up. When the software loads, use the folder view on your left side to navigate to the folder where you .pst file resides.  Click on  the .PST file you wish to search.

Download a Free Trial of PST Viewer Pro

To tell Pst Viewer Pro that you want to search the entire .pst file, right click on it and choose “Switch to scan with subfolders.”  This will cause any search operation to begin at the top of the .pst file, and move through all recursive directories.

Screen shot of Outlook .pst file nested directory folder structure.
Pst Viewer Pro shows folder structure of Outlook .pst files.

There are two basic searches that can be performed with PST Viewer Pro: a quick search, and an advanced search.

To perform a quick search of the .pst file, type your search term into the search box on the upper right corner of PstViewer Pro. You will soon see any results matching your query displayed in the viewing window.

Search a .PST file quickly using PstViewer Pro’s quick search box.

PstViewer Pro can also perform an advanced search.  To enter the search menu, click the Search icon in main toolbar.

Advanced search Icon in PST Viewer Pro

You will now see a search window into which you can enter additional criteria for searching your Outlook .PST file.

PstViewer Pro search criteria window

There are various options you can specify to tell Pst Viewer Pro whether it should search subfolders.  Because Pst Viewer Pro also can search .msg and .eml files, you have the option to include those items in your search.  You can tell Pst Viewer Pro to match the case of the text, match whole words, or to search emails that fall between a stard date and an end date.

 To go even deeper into setting PST file search criteria, click the Advanced tab.

PstViewer Pro advanced search criteria window.

Advanced PST search criteria also lets you focus your search on specific email fields, such as From, Subject, email header, To, CC and message text.

If you find yourself having to perform a search on a Outlook .pst file, download PstViewer Pro and get started. The trial runs 14 days and is unrestricted, except that export operations are limited to 50 items at a time.  PstViewer Pro is $69.99. Click the link to buy.

Visit the PST Viewer Pro home page for more information.