How to Export and Review Email From Microsoft Outlook for eDiscovery or Investigations

How to Export and Review Email From Microsoft Outlook for eDiscovery or Investigations

Legal teams everywhere are shedding zero tears as they wave goodbye to the old ways of discovery, when feverishly rummaging through mountains of physical documents was the status quo.

Nowadays, you can produce thousands or even millions of electronic files without burning so much as a calorie, making it easy to comply with discovery requests — so long as you know your way around modern eDiscovery.


The caveat to all this is that the amount of discoverable data for any company at any given moment is likely dozens or hundreds of times what it would have been a few decades ago. So if you’re not educated on how to export and review this data efficiently, you could end up reading your computer screen until your eyes dissolve.


Fortunately for you, companies like Microsoft have built-in functions that only require a few clicks. Here’s the low-down on how to access your information in Outlook, with separate instructions for PC and Mac desktop versions, as well as through Microsoft 365.


Exporting from Microsoft Outlook for PC


It’s worth mentioning that you can set outlook to automatically move older items to another location, but for the purposes of this post, we’ll focus on how to export manually to a .pst (personal storage) file.


These instructions apply to Outlook 2019, Outlook 2016, and Outlook 2013. If you’re reading this post more than a year after it was published, please check official documentation for possible process updates.


1. Open up Outlook and click File, then select Open & Export from the menu on the left pane. Choose Import/Export from that menu, and Outlook will take you to the Import and Export Wizard dialog box.


2. Choose the Export to a file option (usually the second item down), then click Next.


3. You’ll be prompted to “Create a file of type:”. Choose Outlook data file (.pst), then click Next again.


4. You’ll see a list of your mail folders. Pick the account you want to export, and click Next.


5. You’ll be prompted to Browse for a location you want to export to. Once you’ve picked one, you’ll be given a series of options to choose from.


  • Replace duplicates with items exported
  • Allow duplicate items to be created
  • Do not export duplicate files


Pick whichever suits your needs, name your file, and hit Finish.


You’ll also be able to protect your files by entering and confirming a password.


Exporting from Microsoft Outlook for Mac


There are a few subtle differences between exporting from Outlook on a PC and Mac, but the most significant is that the .olm file a Mac produces can only be viewed on other Mac computers. Don’t ask why — it’s just one of those Apple quirks.


These instructions apply to Outlook 2019 for Mac.


1. Open Outlook, and log into the account you want to export from.


2. Choose File from the menu bar, then scroll down and hit Export.


3. You’ll be prompted to select all the types of content you want to export. For the purposes of the title of this post, we’ll stick with Mail. Then tap Continue.


4. Browse for the location where you’d like to save the file. Then give it a name, and select Save.


Exporting from the Office 365 platform


Like Outlook for PC, Office 365 allows you to export data from a personal or corporate email account in the form of a .pst file, so long as you have the appropriate permissions.


These instructions are also largely similar for Exchange 2019, Exchange 2016, and Exchange 2013. If you’re reading this post more than a year after it was published, please check official documentation for possible process updates.


1. Log into your Office 365 account, launch the Microsoft 365 admin center (the gear icon).


2. From within the Admin centers menu, choose Security & Compliance.


3. Select Permissions, and click the box next to eDiscovery Manager. Note that if you’re not part of the eDiscovery Manager role group, the virtual door will be slammed in your face at this point. Otherwise, you’ll be taken to the eDiscovery Manager properties window.


4. Click Edit role group. Confirm that “Export” appears under the “Assigned roles” section. If it doesn’t, click the blue Edit button on the right hand side.


5. Under Search & investigation on the left pane, choose Content search. You’ll be taken to a new window. Note that if the Content search option is missing, it’s probably related to your eDiscovery permissions. Updates might take up to 24 hours to take effect.


6. Click New search. You’ll be taken to another new window, where you’ll be able to pick and choose which mailboxes you want to export. 


7. For the purposes of this post, you’ll want to either click Exchange email to export all email, or narrow down to specific accounts with the Choose users, groups option.


8. You’ll be given the option to turn on any number of set filters, or add more via the Add conditions button within the search window. Once you’re satisfied with your filters, click Save and run.


9. Enter a name and description for your search, then hit the Save button. Go back to the Content search window (you may need to Refresh), and then choose the search you just created.


10. Choose Export results at the top. You’ll be prompted to choose how exactly you’d like to export your Exchange content; in most cases, the default option (One PST file for each mailbox) makes the most sense.


11. Once the export is finished (you can track its progress in the Export tab if you want), click the Download results button. Under the Export key section, click Copy to clipboard. The eDiscovery PST export tool will open.


12. Paste the absurdly long export key you just copied into the corresponding bar, and hit the Start button to begin the export. The PST file will be saved in the location you specified earlier.


Reviewing Your Email Data


Whether you exported to a PST or OLM file, reviewing your data is as easy as opening the file, and reviewing the emails just like you would if you were logged into the account.

Depending on the volume of messages you’ve exported, however, that could be an excruciatingly tedious task — one that could tie up labor resources for days, and drain money from your corporate bank account.

Logikcull not only makes it easy to parse and filter emails in record time, but even offers an Office 365 integration that’s superior to Microsoft’s built-in eDiscovery tools. For more information, call us or schedule a demo today.


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