I have a PC desktop and I just purchased a Dell Laptop. The technician at my internet provider helped me transfer my e-mail account so that I would get all future e-mails on my laptop. He couldn’t tell me how to transfer my address book, old e-mails etc from my desktop, onto my new laptop. I was wondering if you could advise me on how to make that happen? Or maybe you could tell me where to get that info?
Transferring the address book is relatively easy. In fact, while this won’t help you since you’re switching computers too, many email programs will actually import address information from other programs or older versions on their first run. All you really need is some sort of media (floppy or USB drive) to copy the information over. You could probably even email it to yourself if you know how to use attachments.
In Outlook Express, select File –> Export and select Address book. I recommend that you use a comma-separated values (CSV) format as it’s more portable and can be recovered if something happens since it’s just a basic text file. Copy that onto the new computer, choose File –> Import, and select the CSV file. That should do it!
Backing up email is more difficult, however.
Here’s the basic process in Outlook Express: Under Tools –> Options, click the “maintenance” tab. This will tell you where your email is stored. Now copy all of those files onto your new computer (if you make a CDROM you’ll have a nice permanent backup too) and then put them in the exact same folder on the new system (while you aren’t running Outlook Express). Restart the app and you should have all your mailboxes intact.
Outlook does have an appropriate archive/restore function too, if you want to try that instead. Under File, select Import/Export. Select “export to a file,” then select the mailbox that you want to back up. If your mailboxes are like mine, this will produce a fairly large file, depending on the size of your mailbox. Copy these exported files onto the new computer, then use File –> Import/Export –> Import from a file and you should have the mailboxes on your new system.
You’ll have to export the Address Book from the desktop then import it into Outlook on the laptop.
1) On your desktop click File –> Export –> Address Book
2) Select the Comma Seperated Values (Windows) as your output format
3) Select the folder you want to export – in this case Contacts
4) Type a name for your file – example: addresses
5) Be sure there is a checkmark next to Export then click Finish
This is the important part: You’ll need to copy or save the file to a flash drive or floppy. Alternatively, you can email the file to yourself or burn on CD if you don’t have a floppy or flash drive available. Either way the file needs to be transfered to your new laptop.
1) On your laptop open Outlook and click File –> Import –> Import from another file or program (this varies depending on your version of Outlook)
2) Select Comma Seperated Values (Windows) – the same option you selected when you exported
3) Click Browse to retrieve the file you exported
4) Choose either replace, not to duplicate or duplicate under the options menu
5) Select destination folder – since this is your address book you would click Contacts
6) Be sure there is a checkmark next to Import then click Finish
Thunderbird / Netscape
In Thunderbird/Netscape, open the address book under the tools menu (on the old computer). Under tools in the address book, there is an export function. Save it as a recognizable filename in a recognizable place. Note at the bottom that there is a selection for “save as type” on a pulldown menu. LDIF is a format from the Netscape/Mozilla family. A CSV file is notable because it can be imported into almost any email program, including webmail programs like Yahoo, Gmail, or Hotmail.
Backing up your mailboxes in the most recent versions of Netscape and Thunderbird, however, involve going into your system files, finding the compiled email file that is used by these programs, backing it up (mine was 600MB+ when I needed to do it recently), and putting it in exactly the right place on your computer.
Even if you do this properly, this may not always work. You can find a more detailed explanation of this process at Sillydog.org.
Hope that gets you up to speed with your new laptop!
Thanks to Jeff Lawley, Mya Leigh, and Werner Klauser for their help with this question.