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Database fileOutlook has a new database and you’ll find rebuilding easier and faster than rebuilding an Entourage database. Read about the new database in this post:  Outlook, Outlook, how does your Database grow?

Often when importing from an older version, you will need to export your data as .rge or .mbox files rather than selecting to import from an older Identity.  See the Entourage Help Page for instruction. We are also seeing issues importing large .PST files. You might need to create smaller files for Outlook to import or try EmailChemy (third party option) to import. Note: updates have improved .pst import, but there are still issues.

If Outlook is crashing, asking to be rebuilt or hanging you can try these steps to resolve your problems.


Rebuild your Identity

Before you rebuild…

  1. If you have Exchange accounts, I suggest creating a new Identity and let Outlook download all mail from server rather than rebuilding. We see issues after rebuilding that will sync back to the server and corrupt the server copy.
  2. If you have Exchange, IMAP and POP accounts, delete Exchange and IMAP accounts before rebuilding. After Rebuilding, you can add those accounts back to your Identity and download those messages again from the server.
  • Quit all applications (Easy way)
  • Make sure that you have at least three times as much hard disk space available as the current size of your Outlook identity (Note we are seeing reports that like Entourage, it can take enormous amounts of free space in order to rebuild. See this article for more info)
  • Make a duplicate of your Identity in the Finder first in case of problems
  • Hold down the Option key on the keyboard, and then start Outlook 2011. Select Rebuild.
  • Outlook will make a new Identity and a backup named like this example: Main Identity  [Backed up 2010-10-30 17.02.00]. You can delete this Identity after you are satisfied with the rebuild.

Repair your Identity

This time we’re going to remove the database file then let Outlook create a new one. Outlook no longer stores messages, contacts, notes, tasks & events in the database. These items are stored in the Data Records folder in your Identity. When you remove the database, Outlook will create a new one.

  • Quit all applications (Easy way)
  • Make a duplicate of your Identity in the Finder first in case of problems
  • Drag the database file to the Desktop or Trash
  • Open Outlook and it will ask you to rebuild. This will create a new database file. (ignore the reference to Time Machine)

If Rebuild or Repair Fails, try these steps:

(Warning this could result in data loss. Create a backup first)

1. Create a new Identity then quit Outlook.

Find your Identity folder in the Finder:

Your User’s folder/Documents/Microsoft User Data/Office 2011 Identities/Main Identity/Data Records

2. The new Identity contains a Data Records folder.

3. Copy the Contacts, Events, Folders, Mail Accounts, Message Attachments, Message Sources, Messages, Note and Signatures folders into the new identity’s Data Records folder replacing the new folders from your Identity that will not rebuild or repair. NOT the root Data Records folder. Only the subfolders listed here.

4. When you open Outlook, select to rebuild the database

Start Outlook in Safe Mode

  • Restart your computer holding down the Shift key. You’ll see Safe boot (you can release the shift key at this point) More info on using Safe Mode.
    • When booting into safe mode it forces your computer to run various maintenance tasks and disables all fonts but the system fonts.
  • Continue the login for your User’s account. (all startup items are disabled)
  • Run Outlook. If the problems went away, see Troubleshoot Office for how to test when safe boot works.

Create a new Identity

Outlook creates a new Identity in the Database Utility

  • Hold down the Option key when launching Outlook
  • This brings up the Database Utility
  • Select + “Create a new identity”
  • Select “Set as Default”
    Set default Identity


  • If you have IMAP or Exchange accounts you can enter your account info and let Outlook sync back to your server.
  • Export your Entourage data as .rge or .mbox file and import into Outlook rather than using import from an older version.
  • Export your current Outlook Identity as .olm file. Import this file into the new Identity.
    • Under File in the Menu bar select Export
    • Select the default setting to export all items as Outlook for Mac Data File (.olm)
    • When the export is complete without errors you’ll see this window.  Save this file to your Desktop
    • Switch to the new Identity. Under File in the Menu bar select Import
    • Select Outlook Data File (.PST or .olm) Click Continue.
    • Select Outlook for Mac Data File (.olm)  > Continue > Select the Outlook for Mac Archive.olm file on your Desktop.
    • The imported file can be found in the folder list under Archived Mail.
    • Toggle open to view your folders. You will need to select mail in the default folders (Inbox, Drafts, Sent) and move them to the new Identity’s default folders. Other folders you created can be dragged to their correct location. Delete the archived folder structure after you have moved all mail.
    • Check for “Archived” in Contacts, Calendar events, Tasks & Notes. Move these items to their correct locations then delete the archived folder structure.

Delete a specific message that is causing problems

If you have a message that will not delete and rebuilding does not fix the problem, you can delete the message in Data Records. You have to be able to see the contents of the message in order to find the message using Spotlight in the Finder. If you can still open and edit the message, add a non-word like qquuaarrkk or use a specific phrase in the message that would be unique to this message. In the Finder, enter the search term in the Spotlight search box.

If you turn on Show Path bar in the Finder, you can find where the message is stored in Data Records.

Delete the message in the Finder.

When you open Outlook you’ll need to rebuild the database to remove the message completely.

Quit all applications

When installing or updating Office you should quit all applications including the hidden ones like the Microsoft Database daemon and Office Reminders.  When rebuilding your Outlook database, you should also quit all running applications.

Easy way...

  • Choose Apple menu > Log Out .
  • Log in- hold down the Shift key to disable all login items

Duplicate your Identity

Even though Outlook makes a copy during a rebuild, if there are any problems, a copy  will give you better results if you use third-party database recovery software.

  • In your Home folder, select Documents
  • Open the Microsoft User Data folder and locate the Office 2011 Identities folder. Inside the Identities folder you’ll find your Identity. It’s named “Main” by default.
  • Right-click on your Identity. Select Duplicate
  • The Finder will duplicate your Identity and add “copy” after the name
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