How to recover Windows Mail data and settings from a corrupted user profile

Here is a detailed guide on how to recover your Windows Mail data and custom settings from a corrupted user profile in your Windows Vista computer.

Login to the new user account and configure Windows Explorer to show hidden files. To do so, open (My) Computer, click Organize, click Folder and Search Options. In the View tab, select the option Show hidden files and folders, and click OK.

Note: Throughout this article, OldUser refers to the user account name of the corrupted profile. NewUser refers to the new user account where you’re transferring the files and settings to. You need to substitute the correct user names wherever applicable.

Transferring Mail messages and Accounts

Open Windows Explorer and navigate to the following folder:

C:\Users\OldUser\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Mail

Select all files and folders in the above location, and copy them to the following folder:

C:\Users\NewUser\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Mail

This transfers all the mail messages and accounts from the old user account.

Transferring Contacts

To transfer the Contacts, copy all the .contact files from the following folder:




Transferring Windows Mail settings

Windows Mail settings are stored in the user registry hive. This includes Junk mail options, Message Rules, Signatures, toolbar size, window size, location and other settings. Use these steps to load the registry hive of old user account and export the corresponding branch. Note that recovering the settings is possible only if the user registry hive is still readable.

1. Click Start, type Regedit.exe and press {ENTER}

2. Select HKEY_USERS

3. From the File menu, click Load Hive…

4. Browse to C:\Users\OldUser and select the file NTUSER.DAT

5. Name the branch as OldUserHive

6. Navigate to the following branch:

HKEY_USERS \ OldUserHive \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows Mail

7. From the File menu, choose Export…

8. Select Desktop from the Places Bar on the left

9. Type a file name (e.g. mailsettings.reg) and click Save

10. Select the HKEY_USERS\OldUserHive branch

11. From the File menu, click Unload Hive…

12. Open the file mailsettings.reg using Notepad

13. In Notepad, use the Replace… option under the Edit menu to replace every occurrence of string HKEY_USERS\OldUserHive with HKEY_CURRENT_USER

14. Save the file and close Notepad

15. In the Registry Editor, from the File menu choose Import…

16. In the Browse dialog box, locate the file mailsettings.reg and click Open

Delete the "Signature" registry key

Editor’s note: When importing the Windows Mail registry branch, the Signature is not transferred correctly if it contains blank lines. This causes Windows Mail to crash every time you compose new mail or while replying. To prevent this problem from occurring, delete the Signatures registry key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows Mail \ signatures

Fix the default attachment save path

The default attachment save path might be pointing to the old user profile. You may fix that setting as well (optional).

HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows Mail

Modify the Value data for "Save Attachment Path" string value, in the above location. Alternately, you can manually change the destination folder when saving an attachment. Windows Mail updates the Save Attachment Path value with the last saved path.

Verify the Store folder location

You may need to verify and fix (if necessary) the store folder location. The setting is stored here:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows Mail

Make sure that the "Store Root" value (of type REG_EXPAND_SZ) is set to:

%USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Mail

You’ve now transferred all the data and settings (except Signatures) to the new user account. Open Windows Mail, click Tools, Options… click Signatures tab and add your signature manually.

About the author

Ramesh Srinivasan founded back in 2005. He is passionate about Microsoft technologies and has a vast experience in the ITeS industry — delivering support for Microsoft's consumer products. He has been a Microsoft MVP [2003 to 2012] who contributes to various Windows support forums.

5 thoughts on “How to recover Windows Mail data and settings from a corrupted user profile

  1. I followed the steps (6 times) and it all seemed to go fine, except when I run Outlook there is nothing there. No contacts, no email, nothing.

  2. @Moyra Google changing “display hidden files and folders in Windows 7” that should get you or the next hapless NEWBIE closer. ;)

  3. Thanks for your help. Your step-by-step description worked flawlessly! I was about to give up hope for recovering my email.

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