Computer Tip: Migrating from Windows Live Mail to MS Outlook

[Note: The following is primarily for Outlook 2010 as the new mail client. Other versions may vary.]

I’ve had a couple of cases where someone asked how to migrate from Windows Live Mail [WLM] to Outlook of late – partially because WLM isn’t the best of mail clients. At best it is a slightly sooped up Outlook Express from Windows XP days [as a matter of fact, some features still function exactly like Outlook Express].

The follow process will allow you to import your messages from Windows Live Mail to Outlook 2010 [and before].

  1. Start WLM. Start Outlook. Configure an account in Outlook. Even an account that doesn’t have a correct server is sufficient. You need to set a PST file to save the messages.
  2. In WLM, click File to show the File menu bar. On the File menu, select Export, and then select Messages.
  3. In the Windows Live Mail Export Wizard, select Microsoft Exchange [ignore the fact that you aren’t using an Exchange Server], and then click Next. Click on OK when you see the following message:
    1. This will export messages from Windows Live Mail to Microsoft Outlook or Microsoft Exchange.
  4. To specify the files that you want to export, select All, and then select OK. [You can select specific folders.] In the Export Complete window, click on Finish. Depending on the number of messages, this could take quite a bit of time.

You will need to separately export your contact and bring them into Outlook. This will [unfortunately] not work if you have “categories” [a.k.a. distribution lists]. Unfortunately there is no easy way to migrate categories. For all but Outlook 2013, follow the procedure below:

  1. Open WLM. Click on the Contacts folder, select Export button and select Comma Separated Values (.CSV). In the CSV Export window select Browse and select the Desktop folder [or anywhere you want to save them – just remember where]. Type WLMContacts [or any name you want to choose] in the file name and then click the Save button. Select Next and select all the fields that you want to export, click on Finish button and wait for the export process to be completed.
  2. Note: The most common fields are First Name, Last Name, Email address and Telephone. If you are not sure about the information just select all the fields.
  3. Close WLM. Open Microsoft Outlook. Select the Contacts folder, click on File, select Open and then select Import. Select the option Import from another program or file and then click on the Next button. Select Comma Separated Values (Windows) and then click on the Next button. Click Browse and select the exported file WLMContacts [if that’s the name and location you chose above] in your Desktop folder and then select the Open button.
    1. Note: You can select some additional options to replace, duplicate, or do not import duplicated contacts.
  4. Click on the Next button and then make sure that the Contacts folder is highlighted. If the Contacts folder is not highlighted, then select the Contacts folder and then click on the Next button. Click on the Finish button and wait for the import process to be completed.

[Update 2013/04/07:] See

[Update 2013/04/08:] The contacts can be exported and imported similarly to the second procedure above. However, while categories [i.e. distribution lists] were transferred, not all were transferred in the only case I did.

When you transfer the mail, if WLM bombs at one point, it is most likely because one or more of the messages are corrupt. See what was transferred and look at the last message. The one newer to that is actually corrupt.

When you transfer the mail, all messages will end up in the default mail account. This is fine if you have one mailbox, but if you don’t you will then have to move the messages into the other mailbox.

[Would you believe] That any mail in the Junk Email folder will not be transferred. If you actually want the messages there, create a folder inside WLM, move the messages into the folder, transfer that folder and then move the messages and folder [if necessary]. Didn’t check but I would assume deleted messages aren’t transferred either.

Finally some mail server settings may differ between WLM and Outlook. You may want to check with your mail provider on the Outlook mail settings.


About ebraiter
computer guy

6 Responses to Computer Tip: Migrating from Windows Live Mail to MS Outlook

  1. James Moore says:

    I’m having the issue described in your most recent update where WLM stalls on message 1619 out of approx 5000 emails in the Inbox folder. I’ve tried the export several times and each time it stalls on the same message and I have to force quit. The messages are from an Outlook Express import into WLM and I am trying to migrate to Outlook 2010. The import was an issue in itself in that only 5000/7000 emails imported but I can live with that. Any ideas on how I can work out what message is corrupted and remove it so that I can complete the export successfully?

    • ebraiter says:

      First, back up your mailboxes.
      If you run OE’s maintenance/compressing, does it crap out?
      I’m assuming Outlook will grab messages in date/time order as that’s the way they came in. If so, what is the last message that was imported? You then must look at the subsequent messages and see if any of them have an issue [i.e. can’t open, garbled, etc.]. If you hit one [or more], delete it. Just be on the safe side, run the maintenance/compressing again and try the transfer again.

  2. Jack Wetzel says:

    Hi Ed. Hopefully you’re still monitoring this thread. I have WLM on a W7 computer and am trying to export the messages to Outlook. I have the normal e-mail folders (inbox, drafts, etc.) and a bunch of Storage Folders. When I do the export per your instructions above, I select the copy all option, but it doesn’t convert any of the messages in the Storage Folders and not all of the e-mails in the Inbox folder (stops at about April of 2013). Any suggestions? Thanks.

    • ebraiter says:

      Unsure if it looks in Storage Folders. Try not selecting all and see if it sees the Storage Folders. If not, you may have to move your Storage Folders into the regular folders [at worse, under Inbox]. As for why it stops, I’ve seen it once before and James above had the same issue. I am guessing it could be a corrupt message. See where it stopped. The next message [I guess by date] should be the corrupt message. Move it elsewhere and try again.

  3. Jack Wetzel says:

    p.s. I’m using Outlook 2010.

  4. Pingback: Export Outlook 2010 Pst To Windows Live Mail |

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