How to Open a PST File Without Outlook
Takeaway: The easiest way to open a PST file without Outlook is to use a basic, free PST viewer. But for added security and viewing options, find a more advanced (but still free) viewer. It’ll let you protect valuable file metadata, search your emails for keywords, tag important content, and more.
PST files are a convenient way of grouping and sharing emails.
A .pst (Personal Storage Table) is a special file type created by Microsoft for their Outlook email client. Outlook stores all your emails, attachments, calendar events, etc. in a PST file – which acts like a folder. (In fact, Microsoft calls them personal folders).
The problem with PSTs is that they work best with Microsoft Outlook.
PSTs are built for Outlook and don’t work well with other applications. Sure, there are workarounds (e.g., converting them into a new format designed for free third-party apps), but these aren’t ideal. And they’re usually full of glitches. Bottom line: If you want to edit or work with PSTs, you’re stuck having to use Outlook.
So, does this mean you have to pay for Outlook just to open a PST? Thankfully, no. The question is, what do you want to do with PST once it’s open?
As we’ve just seen, you’re tied into Outlook if you want to ‘use’ the PST (e.g., send emails, edit calendar entries, etc.). But if you just want to open it without changing anything, you have the following options:
1. Do you want just a quick look at what’s inside the PST?
If so, choose any free PST viewer that Google shows you. Do ask these questions when choosing one, though:
- Is it free? ‘Premium’ versions of most PST viewers have add-on options that you won’t need. For example, they’ll let you save attachments, move files around, change the read/unread status and export files as GIFs, TIFFs, etc. If all you want is a quick look at a PST’s contents, stick with free viewers.
- Is it online? Many of the viewers out there have to be downloaded and installed, which is a waste of time. Instead, use an online service. You’ll access it through your web browser, and there is nothing to download and install.
- Is it safe? This is the tough part. The solution is to find a viewer that can open your PST for you without taking it off your computer.
- Is it quick? If you have large PSTs with thousands of emails, it’s worth testing your viewer to see how quickly it can process and open your files. The better the algorithm, the faster it’ll work.
2. Do you only want to look at particular emails? And do you have short-term access to Outlook?
If so, use Outlook to convert the PST emails into a non-Outlook format. To do this, open Outlook, choose the email you want to convert, click the ‘save as’ button, and select a different format to save it in. For example, you could save it as a TXT file to open on Wordpad, or an HTML file to open in your web browser.
3. Do you want a detailed look at the PST? For example, do you want to search your emails for keywords?
If so, choose a more advanced PST viewer. Regular PST viewers are great for a quick peek at your emails, but they aren’t ideal for more complex tasks like searching emails for specific keywords, highlighting important paragraphs, etc. Also, they usually change file metadata. I.e., information about the file, like when it was created, when it was last opened, etc. This sort of data is a digital footprint that you might need to keep for reference later. For example, you’ll need it if you’re going to use the emails as evidence for litigation. Unfortunately, it’s really easy to destroy metadata (you’ll change the ‘last accessed’ metadata entry just by opening a PST). So, look for a PST viewer that can handle it properly.
We designed GoldFynch’s PST Viewer to handle any sort of PST use.
Our viewer is a free tool that offers both a quick peek and an in-depth examination of your PSTs. Here’s how to use it open your PST files for free.
- Go to the GoldFynch website,
- Tell the software which PST to open,
- View the PST right in your web browser without changing any metadata.
Best of all, it keeps your files secure.
Our software’s advanced algorithm loads via your browser and scans your files locally – so no data leaves your computer to be uploaded onto third-party servers. It’s similar to how Google Sheets works in ‘offline’ mode.
Also, our PST Viewer ties in neatly with GoldFynch’s eDiscovery software.
We built and released our viewer for free because many of our customers wanted to skim through their PSTs before exploring them in-depth. But GoldFynch is best known for its eDiscovery features. Traditional email applications like Outlook are great at sending and receiving email, but they’re limited when it comes to eDiscovery. For example, what if you want to tag certain emails so you can find them easily, later? Or what if you want to redact information? Or ‘produce’ emails and send them to opposing counsel for review? You can’t do these things in Outlook. But you can with eDiscovery software like GoldFynch.
Looking for affordable and easy-to-use eDiscovery software?
Our eDiscovery service is perfect for small- and midsize law firms and companies.
- It costs just $10 a month for a 1 GB case: That’s significantly less than most comparable software. With GoldFynch, you know what you’re paying for exactly – its pricing is simple and readily available on the website.
- It’s easy to budget for. GoldFynch charges only for storage (processing is free). So, choose from a range of plans (1 GB to 150+ GB) and know up front how much you’ll be paying. It takes just a few clicks to move from one plan to another, and billing is prorated – so you’ll pay only for the time you spend on any given plan. With legacy software, pricing is much less predictable.
- It’s simple to use. Many eDiscovery applications take hours to master. GoldFynch takes minutes. It handles a lot of complex processing in the background, but what you see is minimal and intuitive. Just drag-and-drop your files into GoldFynch and you’re good to go. Plus, it’s designed, developed, and run by the same team. So you get prompt and reliable tech support.
- It keeps you flexible. To build a defensible case, you need to be able to add and delete files freely. Many applications charge to process each file you upload, so you’ll be reluctant to let your case organically shrink and grow. And this stifles you. With GoldFynch, you get unlimited processing for free. So, on a 1 GB plan, you could add and delete 5 GB of data at no extra cost – as long as there’s only 1 GB in your case at any point. And if you do cross 1 GB, your plan upgrades automatically and you’ll be charged for only the time spent on each plan. That’s the beauty of prorated pricing.
- Access it from anywhere. And 24/7. All your files are backed up and secure in the Cloud.
Want to learn more about GoldFynch?
For related posts about eDiscovery, check out the following links.
- Why Your eDiscovery Software Should Offer Automatic Case-Upgrades
- The Smart Way to Free Up eDiscovery Storage Space
- Is It Worth Paying for eDiscovery Analytics?
- Small Case Vs Big Case eDiscovery: There’s Such a Difference!
- eDiscovery Pricing Comparison for Smaller, In-House Cases
- How to Use eDiscovery ‘Tag’ Macros For Lightning-Quick Work!