Migrating your auto-complete history to a new Outlook profile

If you’ve ever needed to recreate your Outlook profile, or have migrated to a new PC, you may have noticed you’ll lose your auto-complete information that Outlook keeps when you send a message to a recipient email address.

It’s probably not something you’d notice straight away but inevitably it becomes a little frustrating that those addresses you frequently send to aren’t appearing in the pop-up suggestion window.

Thankfully this data is stored locally on your machine, and with a little forethought can be migrated to your new profile. Here is what you need to do:

IMPORTANT:   Make sure you exit Outlook before starting the following procedure. The names will be included in auto-complete when you restart Outlook.

For Outlook 2003 and 2007:

1. On the computer with the saved auto-complete names,

  • On an XP machine, open:
    C:\Documents and Settings\user name\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook
  • On a Windows 7 or later machine, open:

NOTE: Depending on your file settings, this folder might be hidden. To view the files in this folder…

  1. Click Start, and then click My Computer.
  2. On the Tools menu, click Folder Options.
  3. Click the View tab, and then, under Advanced settings, under Hidden files and folders, click Show hidden files and folders.

2. Take a copy of the  profile name.nk2 file. You will need this in the profile on the computer you are migrating to.

3. On the computer where you want to populate the auto-complete feature, copy the file to drive:\Documents and Settings\user name\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook.

4. If the Outlook user profile name is different on the computer where you are moving the .nk2 file to, you must rename the file with the same Outlook user profile name after you copy it to the correct folder.

5. If you’re creating a new profile on the same machine, you will want to rename the .nk2 file that was created for your new profile and then rename the imported .nk2 file to the new profile name.

6. If prompted about replacing the existing file, click Yes.

7. Open Outlook to view changes.

For Outlook 2010, 2013 and 2016

1. Open the start menu and type in:


This will open the Outlook cache folder which contains many files..

2. The autocomplete files start with Stream_Autocomplete and end in .dat

There may be multiple files but the one with the most recent date should be the current one used by the last Outlook profile you created.

In my example above you can see that I created a new Outlook Profile at 11:28 on the 19th April. But my previous Outlook profile was last updated at 10:57 on the same day. The size of the files also gives you a clue to the fact that the latest one is empty.

3. With Outlook closed (very important), copy the full file name of the current (empty) Auto Complete file. You may want to copy this file name into Notepad. Now delete the file. Copy the slightly older file that contains the auto-complete data you need. Finally rename this copy to the file name you just copied ( which is in notepad).

You should now have the same files as before but the current auto-complete file should be a copy of the last working one and share the modified date and time…

Now when you start-up Outlook with the new profile it should find all the relevant auto-complete data.

Hope you found that useful! Feel free to let me know how you get on in the comments section below.

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17 thoughts on “Migrating your auto-complete history to a new Outlook profile

  1. thank you so much! you saved me from having a coworker throw a tantrum fit after we finally finally had her email fixed. you don`t even know how helpful this was.

  2. You sir are a legend!, up until now I’ve been using NK2edit to load the stream data, then exporting all the stream data into Outlook contacts, switching to “Work Offline” then sending an email BCC’ing every single email address and sending it. Because Outlook is offline the email sits in the “Outbox” where you can then delete the email and delete it from “Deleted Items” and switch back to online mode.

    Your method is so much simpler and eliminates the risk of accidentally sending everybody you’ve ever sent an email to a blank email!

  3. would this also work for converting autocomplete from POP3 to IMAP. I recently changed my email to IMAP so my iPhone would be in sync with my OUTLOOK. Now i no longer have autocomplete on my new IMAP account on my outlook….

    • Yes this would work between any Outlook Profiles, so should also help when moving from POP3 to IMAP accounts

  4. I tried your solution for Outlook 2013, but as soon as I open Outlook, the newly copied Stream_Autocomplete file for the new profile, gets overwritten and is back to its original filesize.
    Do I have to enable buffered mode in Outlook for this to work?

    • No, You don’t need Buffered mode, the new Autocomplete stream file should only be created once when the new profile is first opened.If not you can send a test message to yourself to manually force a new Autocomplete file to be created, then close Outlook and rename files as needed to overwrite the new file with the existing file with all the required data in.

  5. My client deleted his Outlook 2013 profile and then started using it again, creating a new Autocomplete list. Several weeks later he asked where his old email addresses had gone? How can I merge the two?

  6. I have successfully done this for Outlook 2010, but it always failed for Outlook 2013 and 2016! The bigger file with the autocomplete list I want to migrate from the old (POP) profile to the new G Suite (IMAP) profile is renamed to the name of the most recent file used by the new G Suite profile. But when I open Outlook I get the short list I created by sending a mail to myself. I exit outlook and check the dat files and the bigger file is overwritten and becomes small. Which meant I lost the autocomplete list I wanted to keep…

  7. Thanks! If I am trying to sync my outlook on two computers, would i need to take the file that exist on the old computer (that has autofill) and move it to the new computer – using the same instructions listed here?

    • Yes in theory this should work, You will need to make sure you have run the Outlook profile on the new Computer first to create the new ‘Stream_Autocomplete’ file, then copy that filename and copy over your old ‘Stream_Autocomplete’ file from the old computer replacing the filename with the new one you copied. I hope thats clear, please let us know how you get on.

  8. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!! I spent nearly 10 hours today trying to figure out why my auto complete list wasn’t working and trying to fix it. I recently upgraded from a computer with Windows 7 and Outlook 2013 to a new one with Windows 10 and Outlook 2016 or 365… I spent hours following the useless Outlook and Microsoft help files, all leading me towards importing nk2 files. No matter how many different ways I tried this never worked. Finally I found a blog which mentioned the key: nk2 files aren’t used on newer versions of Outlook! The auto complete list is stored in stream .dat files stored in a completely different place. I had to hunt for a couple of more hours to find your blog to figure out how to make the old file work on the new computer. THANKS AGAIN! I can finally sleep…

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