What Is a PST File? [Everything You Need To Know]

Simona Yaramova
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Updated · Oct 16, 2022

Simona Yaramova
Content Writer | Joined July 2022

Simona’s desire to be a content writer came pretty randomly. But now, she’s dedicated to learnin... | See full bio


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Most people are familiar with the basic file types used by computers. However, many other formats can be helpful for specific purposes. An example is a .pst format.

But what is a PST file, and how can you use it?

Worry not. You're in the right place.

In this article, I'll explain this in detail.

Shall we get started?

What Is a PST File?

This is a data file created by Microsoft Outlook. It’s an ideal way to back up or transfer data between computers.

You can store the following in a single location:

  • Emails
  • Contacts
  • Calendars
  • Tasks

There’s an option to create PST manually or automatically

When you do it manually, you specify the size and location. Outlook then makes the file and populates it.

People typically use automatic creation when backing up Outlook to an external drive. In this case, it made a new file each time it backups data, and the user doesn't need to specify a size or location. 

This has numerous advantages, including:

  • Encryption for privacy and security
  • Password protection
  • Easy backups
  • Multiple email clients support
  • Easy import and support.

How to Use PST Files?

The processes are straightforward.

Really, they are, take a look:

How to Open a File?

1. Launch Microsoft Outlook.

2. Click on the File tab in the top navigation menu.

File option selected

3. Select Open & Export from the drop-down menu.

Open and Export option selected

4. Press on Open Outlook Data File.

Open Outlook Data File option selected

5. Locate the PST you want to open and click on it.

6. Tap the Open button.

How to Close a File?

1. Press on the File tab in Outlook.

2. Select Close.

3. This will close it and all of its contents. 

However, the Outlook data file will remain on your computer unless you delete it.

How to Manage PST Files?

  1. Open Outlook.
  2. Click on the File tab.
  3. Select Account Settings.
  4. Press on Account Settings again.
  5. Tap on Data Files.
  6. This will show you a list of all of your PST.
  7. You can set each as the default or archive it. Or add new ones or remove the old from this list.

How to Create a PST in Outlook?

The process is simple and won’t take much of your time.

Here's the thing:

1. Open Outlook.

2. Click on the File tab.

File tab selected

3. Press on the Account Settings drop-down menu.

4. Select Account Settings from the list.

Account Settings option selected

5. Tap on the Data Files tab.

Data Files option selected

6. Click on the Add button.

Add button selected

7. In the name field, type in a preferred name.

8. Choose where you want to save it by clicking on the Browse button.

Choosing a browsing location

9. Once you've chosen a location, click on the OK button. The new PST file will appear in the Account Settings window.

The new PST file in Account Settings window

Take a look at where PST files may come in handy.

What Is the Purpose of Creating a PST File?

PSTs are a great way to backup your email data. They can be used to archive or transfer emails from one account to another. They are also convenient because you can open them in many different email clients, including Microsoft Outlook and Mozilla Thunderbird.

You have the option to compress the data, which can save space on your hard drive. 

But where can we save the files?

Where Are Outlook Files Stored?

There’s an option to store them locally on your computer's hard drive. This allows you to access your data even when you are offline. The other way to keep them is on a network drive.

If you're not sure where you saved your file, here’s how to find it:

  1. Open Outlook.
  2. Click on the File menu.
  3. Press on Account Settings.
  4. Select the Data Files tab.
  5. You'll see a list of all the files. The path for each will be listed next to its name.

If you need to access an Outlook data file stored on a network drive, you'll need to contact your IT department for assistance. 

However, if you saved the PST on your local hard drive, you can open it with Microsoft Outlook or another email program.

Wrap Up

Overall, it’s important to know the meaning of PST files. They are a great way to backup your Microsoft Outlook or store emails, contacts, and calendars in a single location. There’s an option to save them manually or automatically on your computer or a network drive. 

They come in handy if you want to transfer a lot of information to someone or move your info into a new computer.

So, if you want to make your life easier, that’s definitely one way to do it.


What does PST stand for?

It stands for Personal Storage Table


What are PST files in Outlook?

They store various kinds of data in a single place. You can use them to backup or transfer data.


Can you view a PST file without Outlook?

No, you can’t. To view the contents, you must import them into an Outlook account. While some third-party programs claim to be able to open them, they are often unreliable and can cause damage to your emails. For this reason, it’s always best to use Outlook. Now you don’t have to wonder what a PST file is and how to open it.

Can you import a PST file into Gmail?

It’s possible to import a PST into Gmail. First, you will need to convert the PST file into a format that Gmail can recognize. Second, you will need to upload it to Google Drive. Once it’s in the correct format and uploaded to Google Drive, you can import it into Gmail. 


Simona Yaramova

Simona Yaramova

Simona’s desire to be a content writer came pretty randomly. But now, she’s dedicated to learning everything about technology and becoming the best at her job. Her favorite gadget is her iPhone, so she has all the know-how about it. She’s currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in English Philology. She is a dog person and dreams of having a Corgi (don’t we all?). She likes to cook, read books, and spend time with her family and friends.

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