Technobabble

Move the Mac Outlook 2011 Database to another location

24 Comments

Microsoft Outlook 2011 for Mac (and previous versions) likes to put all the data in your Documents folder:

~/Documents/Microsoft User Data

Microsoft User Data folder

This is really annoying if you want to do a search for a document within your Documents folder without having to sort through a lot of irrelevant results.  But there is a simple fix!!!

The “Microsoft User Data” folder can be moved to another location and work perfectly fine.

Warning: You should shutdown Outlook 2011 and all other Microsoft Office applications prior to making a change like this.  In addition backup up your machine using Time Machine or what ever app you prefer.  Please wait until it is done.  Once you feel confident that you have a clean backup then move forward.

Open up a Terminal. [Press (CommandKey) + (SpaceBar), then type: “terminal”]

My-Mac:~ username$ cd ~/Documents
My-Mac:~ username$ mv “Microsoft User Data” ~/Library/Preferences/

And you are done!  Start up Outlook and you should be good to go.

24 thoughts on “Move the Mac Outlook 2011 Database to another location

  1. Doesn’t work. Outlook just moves it back to Documents in the process of opening. Sad panda…

    • Did you make sure all the process were killed. Look in Activity Monitor to make sure that all Microsoft processes armrest not running like “Microsoft Database Daemon”… I have done this on 3 computers to date all successfully. It is part of the MS spec to have it in either location.

  2. Pingback: Move the Mac Outlook 2011 Database to another location « Technobabble - Vikram's Web Archive

  3. Do you know how I can move my offline folders in Outlook for Mac 2011 to a new mac? I can’t work it out. Is the only way to do it by lifting the MS User Data file in its entirety or can I just move folders somehow? Thanks for any help. I’m drawing a blank here!

    • I believe you can move the whole thing to a new computer but I have not been able to make it work sort of restoring my whole user directory and the offline files. There is something in the user directory that is important. Sorry I can be more helpful.

  4. Can this be done for another location like a SkyDrive folder?

    I want two MAC’s to access the offline folders in Outlook and use same Microsoft preferences.

    • It is my understand that Outlook only looks for the offline folders in 2 locations. The home directory where it installs to or the Library. This is hard coded in as far as I can tell.

  5. Hi dm247

    I moved the Microsoft User Data folder to HD 2 as well as checked that there were no Microsoft processes running. But when I re-lauched Outlook, it created a new Microsoft User Data in the old location and used that one (obviously blank).

    How do you point it to the new location in HD2?

    • I presume HD 2 is another hard drive that you’ve attached. Unfortunately Outlook only looks for the DB in two locations, in your home directory or under /Library as listed above. It is a flaw in the programming as far as I am concerned.

    • Hey Winnie I don’t know if you still need this information but I thought of a good solution that works for me. You can create a symlink to trick Outlook into thinking it’s accessing the folders locally.

  6. It doesn’t work perfectly fine, because if you move Outlook to the Library folder, spotlight won’t search there. And you can’t make it as far as I know. So all your searching in outlook (and spotlight) won’t find any results. Flagged emails etc all NO results.

    • The fact that spotlight won’t search there the reason most people move it. Search within Outlook is a better way of searching for mail in my opinion and when I did searches for fines, I had to sort thought thousands of email results which made spotlight less useful. Thus moving it. I don’t know another reason to move the outlook database.

      • But Outlook actually using spotlight to do searches. Mine stop working, even within Outlook (even though I rebuilt several times and tried all the articles to get it working). I have moved it back into my documents folder and now Search wthin outlook is working fine.

      • Eek. I have not had that happen before. I know to truly uninstall office, you need manually delete files. This is maybe why when you “rebuilt” outlook the problem was not fixed. The other problem could be permissions when you moved the folder to the new location. You need to make sure that you keep all the permissions the same.

  7. @dm247, i found your website sometime ago and followed the instructions. it worked perfectly, until a few weeks ago and now I have exactly the same issue as @warren. I think something in spotlight has changed or maybe outlook.

  8. Do you know how to set it up so that the initial archive is saved to a different location, say a network folder that can be accessed from multiple computers the user has?

    • If you are asking if it is possible to have the local copy of you exchange data be placed someplace else and have other people get a copy of it? I don’t think that it is possible to setup that way. If you are asking if you can place a PST file on a network drive that would allow others to mount it? It is possible to do but you should not have more than one person access a PST file at a time or you could corrupt it.

    • I don’t. Have not tried it.

  9. This worked exactly as described. I appreciate the guidance although its short sighted of MS to restrict the location of this folder to only two dirs!

  10. Sounded good enough to try… For me the command: mv “Microsoft User Data” ~/Library/Preferences/
    didn’t work before I changed the “-symbols to ‘-symbols. Then the folder disappeared totally. It didn’t show up to ~Library/Preferences and I’m not able to find it with Finder and search anywhere even when hidden folders are visible. Well, everything works well at the moment, but if there’s any way to find the folder it’d give me better sleep in future. I have a back up of the folder before the move, but if the folder is somehow in use at the moment, perhaps I shouldn’t make a second copy available. And obviously re-installing the Office is not an easy cake…

  11. Close all applications, create a copy of your “Microsoft User Data” folder to the location you wish, it can be another disk, internal or external.

    Once its done, move the “Microsoft User Data” folder that is still in your Documents folder to the Desktop (just for security).

    Go back to the new location of your “Microsoft User Data” folder and with the keys ALT & CMD create an alias of the folder. Put that alias in the Documents folder.

    Launch Outlook. If it worked also for you you can then erase the copy on the desktop.

    Cheers.

  12. Close all applications, create a copy of your “Microsoft User Data” folder to the location you wish, it can be another disk, internal or external.

    Once its done, move the “Microsoft User Data” folder that is still in your Documents folder to the Desktop (just for security).

    Go back to the new location of your “Microsoft User Data” folder and with the keys ALT & CMD create an alias of the folder. Put that alias in the Documents folder.

    Launch Outlook. If it worked also for you you can then erase the copy on the desktop.

    Cheers.

  13. This is exactly what I’d like to do. Is this Terminal code saying that MUD gets moved to ~/Library/Preferences? (I don’t know Terminal at all.) And if that is only place I could relocate MUD, there will now be 2 Microsoft folders there: one is MUD and the other is the Microsoft folder that usually lives in Preferences. And that’s okay?

    So I guess Office wouldn’t recognize a simple alias for MUD placed in Documents, right?

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