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Losing All Contact

Love Outlook's address autocomplete feature? Then remember the N2K file when you migrate upward.

Not too long ago I moved my entire universe from my old computer to a new one. Though the process was a lot easier than previous moves, I found one item in particular to be missing. Specifically, I wanted to retain the e-mail addresses in Outlook's drop-down menu when I typed them into the To: field. Having used Outlook's autocomplete feature exclusively for years as my primary mechanism for finding an address, starting with a blank slate had me scrambling for contacts.

You see, an Outlook PST migration doesn't include those autocomplete addresses. They're not stored within your Outlook PST. Instead they're stored in a file with an .NK2 extension elsewhere in your profile. Making this migration even more challenging is that the location of the NK2 in Vista is different than where it was back on my old Windows XP machine.

For pre-Vista machines, the NK2 is stored in C:\Documents and Settings\{UserName}\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook. What's interesting is that this is not the place where Outlook PSTs are stored by default. For pre-Vista machines, that location is C:\Documents and Settings\{UserName}\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook, which is a slightly different path that meanders its way through the Local Settings folder.

On Vista machines, as you probably know, the path for profile information is quite a bit different. Thus, the ultimate resting place for the NK2 is different as well. For Vista, you'll want to deposit your NK2 into the C:\Users\{UserName}\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Outlook folder. Once there, Outlook will begin using that file again to populate the drop-down list.

While looking for this file, you may also want to look through it as well. If you've been annoyed by the number and uselessness of certain addresses in your drop-down list, you can eliminate them from this file to remove them from your drop-down list. Doing this, however, is no trivial task. You can't just open this file in Notepad.

To edit your NK2, download a freeware tool called NK2.Info. This tool shows you the addresses stored in the file and allows you to add and remove addresses as necessary. Another more fully featured, for-cost tool that works for larger migrations is made by Ingressor Software.

About the Author

Greg Shields is Author Evangelist with PluralSight, and is a globally-recognized expert on systems management, virtualization, and cloud technologies. A multiple-year recipient of the Microsoft MVP, VMware vExpert, and Citrix CTP awards, Greg is a contributing editor for Redmond Magazine and Virtualization Review Magazine, and is a frequent speaker at IT conferences worldwide. Reach him on Twitter at @concentratedgreg.

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