Know your Outlook PST File Format: ANSI vs Unicode

Microsoft Outlook is one of the components of Microsoft Office and is also known as email client application. MS Outlook stores files which include e-mail messages, tasks, notes, contacts, journals, calendar, etc. These files are also known as PST (Personal Storage Table) file. PST file is of two types, i.e. ANSI and Unicode. ANSI file format is used by MS Outlook 2002 and its earlier versions. Its maximum size limit is 2 GB and doesn’t support Unicode. Unicode file format is used by MS Outlook 2003 and all its later versions. Its maximum size limit is 20 GB. PST file which is created using MS Outlook or later versions cannot be opened on earlier versions. But MS Outlook 2003 and its later versions support ANSI file format. ANSI file can be opened on later versions.

How to Determine the Format of PST File, ANSI vs Unicode?

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You need to perform following steps to determine the format of PST file:

  • Open MS Outlook application and then open Data File Management dialog box
    • In MS Outlook 2003 and 2007 -> click on File> Data File Management
    • In MS Outlook 2010 and 2013 -> click on File>Info>Account Settings>Account Settings>Data File Management
  • Select the desired PST file and double click it.
  • Check the “Format” field:
    • If it shows “Personal Folders File”, then the selected file is in Unicode format
    • If it shows “Personal Folders File (97-2002)”, then the selected file is in ANSI format.

By changing your ANSI file to Unicode format, your .pst files can grow large in size up to 20 GB. ANSI file is changed to Unicode format as Unicode format supports International Character.

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