Mail Basics in IBM Lotus Notes 8.5

A practical hands-on user guide Book and eBook with time saving tips and comprehensive instructions for using IBM Lotus Notes 8.5 effectively and efficiently

(For more resources on IBM, see here.)

Accessing mail in Lotus Notes

The first step in exploring mail is to open mail in Lotus Notes. There are a couple of ways that we can open mail:

  • First, from the Home page by clicking the Mail icon as in the following screenshot. If we click the New button, it will create a new message.

  • Also, by clicking Open and selecting Mail from the list.

Creating and replying to messages

In the following sections we will discuss how to create and reply to messages including reviewing message actions including setting delivery options.

Creating a message

Once we have opened mail, we can create a message by clicking on the New button and then selecting Message as shown next. As we can see from the message drop down list, there are other options available such as Meeting, Contact, and so on that we can create.

Another way to create a message is by using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+M. This can be done from anywhere within Lotus Notes, not just when we have mail opened—for example, we can create a message when we are in our Calendar, from within Contacts, or from the Home page using the Ctrl+M option.

Message actions

Now that we have created a message, we will explore some of the message actions.

Along the top of the message, we can see buttons that enable us to do certain things. The following is a screenshot of the available options. We will briefly explore each of these options.

  • Send: This speaks for itself; when clicked the message is sent!
  • Send and File…: This is an excellent option when sending messages, as it allows us to not only send the message but also to file the message into our folders at the same time. When we click Send and File…, we will see the Folders dialog box with all our personal folders available. The following is a screenshot of the Folders dialog box that appears when we select the Send and File option. We would select the folder we want to file the message into and then click either the OK button or press the Enter key. The message will be filed in the folder; it will also be automatically filed into Sent and All Documents. Note that this does not mean we have three copies of the message filed in the three locations. There is only the one copy of the message in our personal folder; Sent and All Documents. This means if we delete the message from our personal folder, it will be deleted from the Sent and All Documents.

  • When the Folders dialog box opens, if we know the name of the folder, we can start typing the folder name and that folder will be highlighted. Then if we press the Enter key, the message will be filed into that folder. Typically this is a quicker option than scrolling, especially if we have several folders. When you type the folder name you can see what you have typed in the Status bar, you can delete what you have typed if you have made a typing error.

  • Save as Draft: This option saves our message into the Drafts folder.
  • Delivery Options: Include options such as mood stamps and prevent copying.
  • Flag: We can flag a message before sending it.
  • Attachment: Clicking this icon will allow us to add an attachment to our message. Note that we can also drag an attachment into the body of the memo from Windows Explorer.
  • Display: When we click on this button, we can see further options regarding how we want our messages to be displayed. We can select if we want to show the BCC field, Additional Mail Options, or Sender Information. The following is a screenshot of what we can see when we enable the Additional Mail Options option:

    • High Importance is indicated to the sender by a red exclamation mark.
    • Return receipt sends us a notification when the recipient/s have read or previewed the message.
    • Sign adds an electronic signature to the message to ensure it has not been tampered with.
    • Encrypt marks the message secret and can be read by only those whose name appears in the To, CC, and BCC fields.
    • Mark Subject Confidential prepends "Mark Subject Confidential" to the subject field.
  • More: This is the last message action, from here we can access Preferences…, Out of Office..., and so on as shown in the screenshot.

Delivery options

When we click the Delivery Options button in a new message, a dialog box opens with two tabs.

Basic tab:

Note the difference between Return receipt and Delivery report—the Return receipt option sends us notification when the person has read or previewed the message, whereas the Delivery Report option tells us when the message failed to reach the recipient, which is the default option Only on failure. Other options available are Confirm delivery or Trace entire path; the later option shows us the server route taken to deliver the message.

Take the time to check out the Mood Stamps. I prefer adding the Good Job mood stamp to a message when I am congratulating someone. I often use the Confident mood stamp when I am sending a sensitive message. I will also select the Encrypt option that allows only those in the To, Cc, and Bcc fields to read it as well as Prevent copying which prevents people from forwarding, printing, copying to the clipboard and replying with history. Combining these options ensures the message is kept secure. The signing option adds digital signature to the message to confirm to the recipient the authenticity of the individual who has sent the mail.

Note that all three of these options typically work only for a message sent within our organization and may not be applied to messages sent to people external to us such as someone at another company.

Advanced tab:

On the Advanced tab, there are options that allow us to add a Please reply by date. We can also select that replies to the memo go to another person or several other people. We can also add our name. Some organizations have shared mail files such as Sales where messages sent to sales at the company name will go into a central mail file. It is preferable to add those addresses, along with my own, to the Replies to this memo should be addressed to field so that those we work with are kept in the loop with particular communications.

(For more resources on IBM, see here.)

Replying to messages

We can reply to a message from our inbox or from within the memo. The reply options are:

  • Reply with History Only (default) and Reply to All with History Only: This option includes the history of the original memo but does not include the attachment/s. Reply to all will include everyone in the To; CC and BCC fields, the reply option only includes those in the To field.
  • Reply with History & Attachments or Reply to All with History & Attachments: This option includes the history of the original memo and the attachment/s.
  • Reply and Reply to All: This option does not include any of the history of the original e-mails or attachments.

When replying to messages, use the permanent pen function that adds our comments in a color that is different from the original message. We can also use the highlighter pen to highlight text in the original message for emphasis. Access the Permanent Pen and the Highlight Pen from within the Editing Toolbar.

Addressing messages

We can address a message by either selecting a recipient's name from our contacts or the Corporate Directory. We can also type names directly into the To, Cc, and Bcc fields. If we type names directly, Lotus Notes uses a type-ahead feature that completes names based on the first few letters we type.

How to address a message

It is as simple as typing a person's name but there are some other options available as follows:

  1. When we create a message, our cursor will automatically go to the To field in the new message. If we know the person's name, we just need to type it and we will see a list of names appear. This list shows our most Recent Contacts as Lotus Notes keeps track of the people that we communicate with most often and moves those names to the top of our type-ahead list. Note that the list is not in alphabetical order.

  2. Many people have more than one e-mail address. If a person in our contacts has an alternative e-mail address, we would see an arrow as circled in the next screenshot. When we click on the arrow, it shows the alternative e-mail addresses as here:

  3. If the person we want to send the e-mail to doesn't appear in the list and we know that they exist in the Corporate Directory, click the option at the bottom of the list—Search Directory for. This option will show all the names in the Corporate Directory that start with whatever we have typed.

  4. We can also select their name from our Contacts or the Corporate Directory by clicking To. This will open the Select Address dialog box and allow us to select the address book (directory) we want to search in ( step 1). Type the name in the Find names starting with field (step 2). As the final step, add those people whom we have searched to the To, Cc, or Bcc fields by clicking the appropriate button (step 3).

Protecting names in To, Cc, and Bcc fields

Often when we send a message, we are communicating with customers or suppliers, and there is a need to be discreet with what we allow to be seen in the To, and fields. We can utilize the Bcc field to allow only those people to see their own name. When the recipient receives the message, they will see only their name or Undisclosed recipient. Using this option allows privacy to be maintained.

I use the Bcc field when I am sending e-mails to my son's basketball team as this keeps the team members' and parents' e-mail addresses private.

Prevent the expansion of personal groups

When sending a message, go to Delivery Options. Then on the Basics tab, check the Do not expand personal groups option. When the recipient receives the memo, they will see only the group name and not the individuals listed within the group. By default if this option is not selected, the group name will not be shown to the recipient, only the group members will be shown.


In this article, we have explored many aspects of mail in Lotus Notes. We have learned about creating, replying, and addressing messages.

Further resources on this subject:

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