It’s worth noting that Outlook Express is not an independent program, but a part of Windows, and that Windows XP is the last version to come with this particular email client. Therefore, how you move your inbox depends on what version of Windows you’re moving it to.
But first, you have to copy the messages off of your old PC. I’ll assume that PC uses XP; if you’re using an older version of Windows, these directions won’t be an exact fit, but they’ll be close.
In Outlook Express, select Tools, then Options. Click the Maintenance tab, then the Store Folder button.
This brings up a small “Store Location” dialog box, with a field containing a folder path (probably starting with “CDocuments and Settings…”). To select this entire path, click inside the path, press HOME, then SHIFT-END. With the entire path highlighted, press CTRL-C to copy it.
Then Cancel out of both dialog boxes and close Outlook Express. Make sure you close Outlook Express.
Select Start, then Run, press CTRL-V to paste that path into the Run box, and press ENTER.
A Windows Explorer window will come up on your store folder–the one containing your mail. Click the Up Folder icon (shown here) to move up to the containing folder. Copy the folder you just moved up from (probably called Outlook Express) to an external drive, a shared folder, or some other media you can take to the new PC.
If your new PC has XP, repeat the steps above on the new computer, stopping after you’ve clicked the Up folder button. Then delete the Outlook Express folder, and copy the one from the old PC into this location. As soon as the copy is complete, load Outlook Express and make sure everything is there.
If your new PC has Vista, it doesn’t have Outlook Express, but it has another mail client that looks very much like it. Once you’ve launched Windows Mail, select File, Import, then Messages. Follow the resulting Windows Mail Import wizard, selecting Microsoft Outlook Express 6 as the program. You want to Import mail from an OE6 store directory. Click the Browse button, and find the Outlook Express folder that you copied from the old computer. Don’t open that folder in the dialog box, just select it and click Select Folder. Your common sense should guide you through the rest of the wizard.
When it’s complete, you’ll still have an empty inbox. That’s because everything you imported is in subfolders of the Imported Folder folder. If you don’t like that situation, you can move the contents of your old inbox into your new one: Simply click the Inbox folder inside the Imported Folder folder, press CTRL-A to select all the messages, and drag them to the real Inbox folder. You can do the same with Sent Items and, if you wish, Deleted Items and Drafts. If there are any other folders inside Imported Folders–probably ones you created yourself on the old PC–you can simply drag them from Imported Folders to Local Folders.
If your new PC has Windows 7, it didn’t come with a mail client. But you can download and install Microsoft’s free Windows Live Mail. Once you’ve installed and launched it, press ALT to bring up the menus, then select File, Import, then Messages. Follow the resulting Windows Mail Import wizard, selecting Microsoft Outlook Express 6 as the program. Click the Browse button, find and select the Outlook Express folder that you copied from the old computer, then click OK. Your common sense should guide you through the rest of the wizard.
When it’s complete, your old messages will be in subfolders of the Imported Folder folder. I’d tell you how to move the messages from your old Inbox to the new one, except that Windows Live Mail doesn’t really have an inbox the way you’re used to thinking about it. It’s best to get the hang of this program before you decide where to move the imported messages–or just to leave them where they are.