05 October, 2010

Just Finish This For Me: Outlook's AutoComplete function

Just when you think you have configured a new PC to suit its new owner, along they come and say "My email addresses don't just pop up anymore!" Gah! Of course they don't, I curse myself, that's because they're stored locally in the intuitively named AutoComplete File, which has the unintuitively named extension NK2.

This file stores all the email addresses you use regularly, so that when you start to send an email to one of your friends called Dave, for example, you only need to type the first few letters, and up comes every Dave you send email to.

Unless, that is, you get a new PC.

Here's how to move the email autocomplete data to a new PC. First of all, make sure Outlook is NOT running, then follow these steps:

1.On your old PC, the one with the saved AutoComplete names, hold down the Window key and press F. This brings up the search box. Enter *.NK2 as a search term. It'll find a file called Outlook.NK2, or a file with your login name.NK2, probably in the \Documents and Settings\user name\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook folder, or the \Users\user name\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Outlook folder in Windows 7.

2. Copy the file to a memory stick or email it to yourself.

3. On your new computer, repeat the process in Step 1 to locate the sparsely populated NK2 file. If in doubt, navigate to the folders in Step 1 and see what you find. The AutoComplete file may not have the same name as on the old system, but the extension is the giveaway.

4. Rename the new system's NK2 file (outlook.NK2.bak, for example). Then copy the one from your old machine into the same folder.

5. Power up Outlook to check it works alright.

Presto! The deed is done!

Potential problems:
Guess what? If your file settings are in the default "Microsoft nanny" mode, the Outlook folder may be hidden ("for your protection"). To unhide hidden folders in Windows XP, hold down the Window key and press E to bring up My Computer. On the Tools menu, click Folder Options. Click the View tab, and then burrow through Advanced settings, Hidden files and folders, and click Show hidden files and folders.

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