Set the default folder for saving Outlook 2003 messages

By default, Outlook 2003 saves e-mails and attachments to the My Documents folder—not everyone's first choice for a storage location. A simple registry tweak will allow you to specify a custom destination folder.


I receive dozens of reports from my staff members, sometimes in the body of e-mail messages and sometimes in attached documents. To store this critical information, I've found that it works best to immediately save the items to my hard drive. Unfortunately, Outlook 2003 defaults to My Documents, which is not where I keep things. So every time I do a save, I have to switch to my Reports folder. I went to Tools | Options and looked on every tab, but I can't find the setting that controls Outlook's default location for saving items.


The key to specifying a default folder for saving e-mail messages and attachments is, well, a registry key. You just need to add a string value under HKEY_CurrentUser. First, the obligatory warning:


This technique involves just a simple registry modification, but it's still possible to make a mistake along the way—and that could mean having to reinstall the OS. Be sure you back up the registry before you modify it.

To add your default folder specification to the registry, follow these steps:

  1. On the taskbar, click Start | Run, type regedit in the Run dialog box, and click OK.
  2. In the registry editor, drill down to this subkey:
HKEY_CURRENT USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\11.0\Outlook\Options
  1. Right-click on Options, choose New | String Value, type DefaultPath, and press [Enter].
  2. Double-click the DefaultPath icon to open the Edit String dialog box.
  3. In the Value Data text box, enter the path to the folder you want to use as your default for saving e-mails and attachments (Figure A).
  4. Click OK and then close the Registry Editor.

Figure A

Enter the path to the folder you want to set as your default.

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Jody Gilbert has been writing and editing technical articles for the past 25 years. She was part of the team that launched TechRepublic and is now senior editor for Tech Pro Research.

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