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Customize Outlook profiles by using an Outlook Profile (PRF) file

Updated: April 9, 2009

Applies To: Office Resource Kit

 

Topic Last Modified: 2009-04-03

The Microsoft Office Outlook 2007 profile file (PRF file) allows you to quickly create MAPI profiles for users. By using a PRF file, you can set up new profiles for users or modify existing profiles without affecting other aspects of your installation. You can also manually edit a PRF file to customize Office Outlook 2007 to include Office Outlook 2007 settings or MAPI services that are not included in the Office Customization Tool (OCT) user interface.

As in earlier versions of Outlook, you can continue to use the PRF file to provide options for specifying additional Outlook settings or MAPI services and to verify account settings.

The Office Outlook 2007 PRF file format is the same as the PRF file format for Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2002. This file format combines the features included in two previous PRF file formats (used with Outlook 2000 and earlier). One format was designed for the Outlook tool Newprof.exe. The other format worked with the Modprof.exe tool for Outlook 2000.

NoteNote:
The Outlook tools Newprof.exe and Modprof.exe are no longer required. The tools do not work with Office Outlook 2007, Outlook 2003, or Outlook 2002. You can use the Office Customization Tool to quickly modify profile settings and create a new PRF file that includes those settings.

When Outlook processes the PRF file, Outlook verifies that services that should be unique are not added more than once, and that services that cannot be duplicated have unique account names. Most MAPI services and accounts can be added only once to a profile. The exceptions to this rule include mail server and directory service providers for POP, IMAP, PST (personal store folder), and LDAP.

You might already have a PRF file from an earlier version of Outlook (before Outlook 2002) that you want to update and use with Office Outlook 2007. If you have a PRF file from Outlook 98 or Outlook 2000 that includes Corporate or Workgroup settings only, you can specify the file by using the Office Customization Tool, and the Outlook profile settings will be included in your Setup customization file.

If your earlier PRF file specifies Internet Mode Only (IMO) settings, create a new PRF file by using the Office Customization Tool, and then export the settings to a PRF file. The new PRF file can be used to configure profile settings in your transform, or to customize Outlook profiles through other methods (such as starting the file directly on a user's computer).

To create an Office Outlook 2007 PRF file, you can configure profile settings by using the Office Customization Tool, and then export the settings to a PRF file. This process creates a new Office Outlook 2007 PRF file with your specifications.

You can also specify profile settings by editing an existing PRF file manually with a text editor. This existing PRF file might be one that you created by using the Office Customization Tool, or a PRF file from a previous version of Outlook.

A straightforward way to create a PRF file with Office Outlook 2007 profile settings is to customize the settings by using the Office Customization Tool, and then export the settings to a PRF file.

To create a PRF file by using the Office Customization Tool

  1. In the Office Customization Tool, on the Outlook: Customize Default User Profile page, select how you want to customize profiles for your users. To specify settings to be included in a PRF file, choose Modify Profile or New Profile, and click Next.

  2. On the next three pages, customize profile information such as configuring Microsoft Exchange server connections and adding accounts.

  3. On the Outlook: Remove Accounts and Export Settings page, click Export Profile Settings, and when prompted, enter (or browse to) a file name and location.

If your organization requires special modifications to Outlook profiles—for example, if you want to add a new service that is not included in the Office Customization Tool—you can edit the PRF file. Use a text editor such as Notepad to edit your older PRF file, or a new PRF file created with the Office Customization Tool. Make your changes or additions, and save the file.

The main functional areas in the Outlook PRF file include:

  • A section specifying actions to take, such as creating new profiles, modifying existing profiles, and overwriting existing profiles.

  • Sections with organization-specific customizations, including server names and configurations to deploy.

  • Sections that map information specified in earlier parts of the file to registry key settings.

The PRF file includes detailed comments for each section that describe existing settings and options for modifying the file with your updates. The file includes seven sections:

  • Section 1: Profile defaults

  • Section 2: List of MAPI services to be added to the profile

  • Section 3: List of Internet accounts to be created

  • Section 4: Default values for each service

  • Section 5: Settings values for each Internet account

  • Section 6: Mapping for profile properties

  • Section 7: Mapping for Internet account properties

To allow each service definition to be customized individually, you can duplicate default variables and values in Section 4 under the separate headings (Service1, Service2, and so on) for each service in the profile. Section 6 also groups variables under each service definition. For example, some services can be defined as unique (UniqueService is Yes) while others cannot (UniqueService is No).

You typically do not modify existing entries in sections 6 and 7. These sections define mappings for information that is defined elsewhere in the file to registry key settings. However, if you define new services in the PRF file, you must add the appropriate mappings for those services to sections 6 and 7.

The following table lists accounts that are unique, and how Outlook determines if a new account of the same type can be added. Keep this information in mind when you add providers in the PRF file. Outlook verifies that unique services are not added more than once, and that other services do not conflict (for example, that all POP accounts have unique names).

 

Account Unique account? Method for determining conflicts when adding new account

POP

No

Account name

IMAP

No

Account name

Hotmail/HTTP

No

Account name

PST

No

Full path to PST (including file name)

Outlook Address Book

Yes

Existence of account

Personal Address Book

Yes

Existence of account

LDAP

No

Account name

Exchange

Yes

Existence of provider

By manually editing the PRF file, you can add any MAPI service that is supported by Office Outlook 2007. The following services were supported in earlier versions of Outlook, and should not be added:

  • MS Mail

  • Symantec WinFax Lite

  • AW Fax

You can also remove services that are listed in the PRF file.

NoteNote:
When you manually change a text file, you can introduce errors that cause Outlook to behave incorrectly. You should not edit and deploy a manually modified PRF file unless you have no other way to update user profiles. If possible, you should use the Office Customization Tool to create and deploy PRF files.

You can apply a PRF file in several ways to update Outlook profiles:

  • Import the PRF file in the Office Customization Tool to specify profile settings in a transform, and then include the transform when you deploy or update Outlook.

  • Specify the PRF file as a command-line option for Outlook.exe to import a PRF file without prompting the user. Example: outlook.exe /importprf \\server1\share\outlook.prf.

  • Specify the PRF file as a command-line option for Outlook.exe, but prompt the user before importing the PRF file. Example: outlook.exe /promptimportprf \\localfolder\outlook.prf. If you put the specified PRF file in a shared folder on a network, the settings might not be applied if the file is not found or is not available when Outlook runs.

  • Configure the registry to trigger Outlook to import the PRF file when Outlook starts up. You can use the Add/Modify Registry Entry page in OCT to deploy these registry key options to your users. You can also use the OCT to distribute the PRF file to users by using the Add/Remove Files page.

    1. Delete the following registry key values:

      HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Outlook\Setup\First-Run

      HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Outlook\Setup\FirstRun

    2. In the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\12.0\Outlook\Setup subkey, set the value of ImportPRF to a string value that specifies the name and path of the PRF file. For example, set ImportPRF to \\server1\share\outlook.prf.

This topic is included in the following downloadable book for easier reading and printing:

See the full list of available books at Office Resource Kit information.

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