Searching archives

I have a couple of old pst-file archives which I don’t keep actively connected to Outlook as I don’t use them on a daily basis. On occassion I still need to access one of them and I connect it to Outlook via;
File-> Open-> Outlook Data File…

If I then want to do a search within the archive, the results are always incomplete as the archive has not been indexed yet.
Is there any way I can search within the archive directly?

You can either disable the indexing of that pst-file or create a separate “Archive” mail profile to directly start searching your archives.

Disable indexing
Any new pst-file that gets connected to Outlook automatically gets selected to be indexed as well. If you were to exclude the pst-file from being indexed then the search feature of Outlook will fall back to the slow non-indexed search but would return all search results without needing to wait for an index to be build.

To exclude a pst-file from archiving choose;

  • Outlook 2007
    Tools-> Options-> button Search Options…-> deselect the pst-file that you do not want to be indexed
  • Outlook 2010
    File-> section Options-> section Search-> button Indexing Options…-> select Microsoft Outlook-> button Modify-> expand Microsoft Outlook-> deselect the pst-file that you do not want to be indexed

Create an Archive mail profile
If you want to use an indexed searched then another approach would be to create a separate mail profile with all the archive pst-files attached to it. To search in your archives, you’ll have to restart Outlook and choose the Archive mail profile upon startup.

When creating a separate mail profile for archiving you can use Control Panel-> Mail-> button View Profiles… . Cancel through the account configuration screens and Outlook will ask you if you really want to create a mail profile without any mail account configured with it; choose OK.

When you now start Outlook with that Archive mail profile you can attach your archived pst-files via;
File-> Open-> Outlook Data File…

Make sure you leave Outlook open long enough the first time to get everything indexed.

Note: For more details about creating an additional mail profile see this guide.

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