Windows Live Mail stores your messages, but where? Here's how to find them

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Ed Faris asked where Microsoft’s Windows Live Mail program stores his email.

If you don’t know where your important files are, you can’t be sure you’re backing them up. And if they’re not backed up, you can lose them.

And not knowing an important file’s location isn’t just about backup. If your files disappear, it’s easier to recover them if you know where to look.

This isn’t much of a problem for your documents and photos. When you create a file, you decide what folder it goes into. But it’s not so obvious with a local mail client program such as Microsoft’s Windows Live Mail (part of the Windows Essential collection of free programs). These programs tend to make their own decisions about where to keep your files, and figure (wrongly) that you don’t really need to know.

[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

If you use Live Mail, chances are that your emails are in C:\Users\yourlogonname\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Live Mail, where yourlogonname is the name with which you log into Windows.

But that’s a might, not a definite. If that doesn’t pan out, follow these instructions to find the real location:

  1. In Windows Live Mail, click the dark-blue tab to the left of the Home tab.
  2. Select Options > Mail
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  1. In the Options dialog box, click the Advanced tab, then the Maintenance button.
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  1. In the Maintenance dialog box, click the Store Folder button.
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The location will appear in a dialog box. You can copy and paste the path into the Start menu’s search field or the Windows 8 Search charm.

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You can also click the Change button and move the folder to another location—perhaps somewhere in your documents folder.

And what will you find in that folder? Other folders, representing the folders inside the Live Mail application that you use to organize your mail. Within those folders you’ll find your mail in large collections of EML files.

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