Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Rebuild, recover, edit and backup Outlook autocomplete cache

Edited: Aug 26, 2013

Outlook (2003, 2007, 2010) auto complete entries don't or shouldn't exist and must be recreated, or edited.

Download and run NK2 edit by Nirsoft - a free program to manage nk2 or autocomplete files. It also handles newer .dat autostreams, which is what outlook 2007 and 2010 use in place of nk2.

- Run nk2 edit as an administrator and open the  .dat or .nk2 in the user profile you wish to edit.
 Note: When saving and opening from nk2edit, be sure to toggle the filetype in the open/save box.. you'll see it has two options, nk2 and autostream

-If your autocomplete file isn't there - open Outlook, send an email, and then close outlook. This will make the file with one entry (this is important). If this doesn't create the file, you may need to toggle the autocomplete feature off and on in outlook.

-Under action, choose merge. Select the file you want to merge into the original.

-You can edit the entries - I recommend editing exchange addresses, especially distribution lists as they may cause problems. ("I can't email to anyone in the building!") They're the entries marked as EX

-Once you're satisfied, save or save as. You're replacing the original file.

-Double check it's been done correctly.

To rebuild your autocomplete:
open your current (near empty) autocomplete in nk2edit, then choose "add records from mailbox recipients" from the "Action" menu. choose your options (I recommend bumping up total addresses to well over 1000 and some of the other radio boxes..). After it's complete, save and overwrite your default autocomplete file. This will effectively rebuild the autocomplete list from received or sent emails.

When saving and opening, be sure to toggle the file type from either nk2 or autostream. Especially if you can't see the file..

When saving, sort by date and find the .autocomplete which has been most recently used by outlook. replace it with the one you are saving so that it takes the name (overwrites the older file). If this gives you an error, make sure the autocomplete isn't open elsewhere (outlook, another instance of nk2edit)

That's it! Double check your autocomplete entries are there.

This can all be done from a domain admin if you can access the administrative share.. just need to collaborate with the user to close outlook so you can save the file.

See also:
Recovering a deleted file. Recuva for Windows by Piriform

Edit, 2/25/2017:

I came up with another solution for when you just can't get the info into Nk2 edit correctly.
1. Export your contacts into a CSV
2. Import the CSV into Nk2 edit, and make note of how the columns came through, if anything isn't correct, skips step 3-5 and read on to the trouble shooting below.
3. Save the file as whatever type you plan on importing (nk2 or .dat)
4. open NK2 edit and 'merge with another .dat or nk2'
5. Point it to the file you just created and save.

If there are any issues with the columns or import into Nk2 edit, from the CSV - you'll need to open the CSV in a sheet program (like google sheets at https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets) and manually align the columns with how Nk2 edit originally imported them.

You may need to manually delete the erronious Nk2 or .dat which outlook uses if it's giving you trouble. I had the most luck getting everything setup in Nk2edit, saving as a .dat and then importing that as it's own 'set of processes' instead of trying to do everything all at once.

If you're having trouble combing first name and last name, you can check out the following blog post on how to merge these, here: http://oshoutint.blogspot.com/2017/02/how-to-merge-or-combine-cells-in-google.html

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