Saving autocomplete history in Outlook 2010 (and later)

Anyone who has had to transfer a user’s MS Outlook data from one computer or another has probably heard this question before:

“Where are all my addresses?”

The user then shows you that whenever they try to compose an e-mail, addresses do not “auto-fill” — hence “Where are all my addresses?”

Explanation: Outlook stores autocomplete addresses separate from contacts. Most users don’t even realize this (and nobody ever explains it to them) so they assume that autocomplete is their addressbook.

Luckily, most of the time you could just locate the autocomplete cache file in their old profile and copy it to their new profile to restore their history. This process has become slightly more complicated in Outlook 2010, but it’s still a simple thing to recover, provided you still have access to the original user profile.

Important: Outlook cannot be running while you are doing any of this.

Copying autocomplete history from Outlook 2007 and earlier, to Outlook 2010 and later

Retrieve the old autocomplete history from the old user profile. It will be in the following directory:

%appdata%\Microsoft\Outlook

It will be named outlookprofile.nk2, where outlookprofile is the name of the Outlook profile that the autocomplete history file corresponds to. If you have multiple versions, you could merge them with NK2Edit.

Copy that file into the same folder in the new user profile:

%appdata%\Microsoft\Outlook

Hold the “super” key (it usually has the Windows logo printed on it) and hit the “R” key, to bring up the run dialog. Type the following command:

outlook.exe /importnk2

Click “OK” and you’re done. Verify that your autocomplete history shows up when you compose a new e-mail.

Copying autocomplete history from Outlook 2010 to Outlook 2010 and later

Retrieve the old autocomplete history from the old computer and/or old Windows user profile. If all you’ve done is created a new Outlook profile on the same machine, in the same Windows user profile, then both old and new files will be in the same directory. Either way, that directory is:

%userprofile%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook\RoamCache

And the autocomplete history file will have a name similar to:

Stream_Autocomplete_0_2CB1C400532AC94FAA6D3387E44FAE5B.dat

If you’re moving from a new computer and/or Windows user profile, then you already know which file contains the data you need. But, if you’ve created a new Outlook profile on the same machine, in the same Windows user profile, you could have multiple autocomplete files in the RoamCache directory.

In the event of multiple autocomplete files, you could use NK2Edit to merge all of them. Sometimes all you need is the largest or most recently modified file. But you’ll have to decide how you want to handle this. The safest route is to merge all of them, however that may not be desirable.

Now locate the new autocomplete file. It will be in the same directory in the new user profile as the old file was, in the old user profile. If you do not see it then it might not exist just yet so start Outlook, compose and send an e-mail, and it should appear.

If this file also contains data that you’d like to keep, you can use NK2Edit to merge the old autocomplete file(s) into the new one, overwriting it in the process — be sure to keep the filename of the new autocomplete file intact.

If it doesn’t have any data that you’d like to keep, simply rename the old autocomplete file to be identical to the new one, then copy the old (but now renamed) file into the new RoamCache directory — overwriting the new autocomplete file.

Here's an example of what this might look like

Here’s an example of what this might look like

Start Outlook and compose a new message. Start typing in the To field. If any cached addresses appear, then you’re good. If none appear, then close Outlook and repeat the previous step. Sometimes Outlook overwrites the autocomplete file upon first being opened after restoring the old data. In my experience, it will only do this on the first attempt, so just repeat the previous step to get your data back.

More information:

https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Copy-the-AutoComplete-list-to-another-computer-83558574-20dc-4c94-a531-25a42ec8e8f0

http://www.nirsoft.net/utils/outlook_nk2_edit.html

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2806550