If you are using MS Outlook for your e-mails, you’ve probably grown attached to Outlook autocomplete. If you don’t know what that is: it’s that handy little thingy in Microsoft Outlook that presents you with a list of your previously used e-mail addresses as soon as you start typing your recipients name in the “To:” box of a new e-mail message:

Outlook autocomplete feature

I think this can be a great time-saver, especially if you have a lot of e-mail correspondence going on with people with long e-mail addresses or endless domain names. Instead of having to type those huge e-mail addresses over and over again you can just type the starting letters and select the right name from the list. It’s also a neat trick to avoid typo’s.

Outlook autocomplete brain transplant to another computer

The addresses in the Outlook name suggesting list are stored in a file on your computer. If you are upgrading to a new computer you can simply copy this file over to your new computer and your Outlook on the new computer will magically remember all the entries in your Outlook name list.

Please note: you must close Outlook before performing the steps of this tips-and-tricks article or it will not work.

The file that you are looking for is called outlook.nk2 by default. (If you are working with a non-default Outlook profile it will have the name of your profile and the .nk2 extension)

Please also note that this is a hidden file, so you must enable your setting to display hidden files. While you do this it might also be a good idea to make sure that your setting to hide file extensions is disabled.

Here’s how to display hidden files and file extensions:

  • Right-click the Start button
  • Select “Explore”
  • In the “tools” menu select “Folder Options”
  • Click the view tab
  • Under “advanced settings”, “hidden files and folders”, select “show hidden files and folders”
  • De-select “Hide extensions for known file types”
  • Click the ok button

Outlook autocomplete

Now that you have your settings in place, navigate to where the .nk2 file lives on your hard drive:

c:Documents and Settingsuser nameApplication DataMicrosoftOutlook

Copy the .nk2 file on some kind of portable media like a recordable cdrom, a usb memory stick or send it as an attachment in an e-mail to yourself.

Take the portable media with the .nk2 file to your new computer (or open the e-mail from yourself on your new computer) and overwrite the existing outlook.nk2 file on your new computer with the populated .nk2 file that you copied from your “old” computer.

The location of the file on the new computer is also:

c:Documents and Settingsuser nameApplication DataMicrosoftOutlook

but you may have to change the settings for hidden files and file extensions on your new machine as well.

Also, make sure that you have opened and closed Outlook at least one time on the new computer, so that it had the chance to create a new, blank Outlook autocomplete name list on your new computer.

As soon as you overwrite this file with the .nk2 file from your old computer, you will have Outlook name suggestion feature operational on your new computer as well.

Summary: The Outlook autocomplete feature is one of those tiny little features that make your day-to-day computer life easier. It’s so intuitive and easy to use that a lot of people are using it without even noticing that it’s there. Until they upgrade to another computer and find out that they are missing it
This nice little tips and tricks article helps MS Outlook “remember” your email name list, even if you move to another computer.

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