Getting To Know The Lotus Notes 8.5 In Windows

IBM Lotus Notes is a desktop client designed for social business that includes email, chat, calendars, and scheduling. It presents a clean and modern user interface that offers activity streams, microblogging, and social file sharing directly from your inbox. In using the Lotus Notes, you can enjoy these privileges:

  • A single point of access to business applications, social networks, emails, calendars, feeds, widgets, instant messaging, and many more
  • Easily locate people and content that you need
  • Use social tools integrated into the work experience
  • Mobility of your work using your preferred choice of handheld device(s) even when you are disconnected from the network.

The following are the main applications included in Lotus Notes:

  • Mail
  • Calendar
  • Contacts Book
  • To Do
  • Sametime Instant Messaging
  • Notebook

Although Lotus Notes works on Windows, Mac, and Linux operating system, we will simply focus in familiarizing and how to use Lotus Notes 8.5 in Windows. So let’s get started!

Getting Started with Lotus Notes

Upon installing, the Lotus Notes client can be found either as a shortcut icon on the Desktop or via the Programs menu. Right after opening it, a dialog box will appear that allows you to select your username, location (depending on your current network location), and password. Click the Log In button and you will be greeted with the main Lotus Notes interface. The Getting Started tab lets you know more about Lotus Notes, but you can close it for now. If you are not yet familiar with the different parts of the Lotus Notes interface, take time to read this section.

Now, take a look at the different parts of the Lotus Notes 8.5 client so that you’ll know what icon will open which application.


The Mail application enables you to communicate with other Lotus Notes, as well as Internet email users. To get started using the Mail application, click its icon on the Bookmark Bar. The table below will help you become familiar with the different icons used in this application.

Creating and Sending an Email Message

First, you will need to create an email message. To do this, click the New button on the Mail category from the Lotus Notes Home Page. Next, click the New button to open a fresh email document. If you want to create a different document type other than Message, just click the drop-down menu of the New button and then choose the document type you need. Creating the email body is pretty much straightforward and similar to other email clients, which also includes the ToCCBcc, and Subject fields. If you need to attach a file or an image, Lotus Notes also has a paperclip button that allows you to browse and attach files. Once you are done composing your email message, just hit the Send button to finish the task.


The Calendar application lets you easily organize your appointments, events, meetings, reminders, and even anniversaries. To get started, click the Calendar icon located on the Bookmark Bar. You may use the calendar format tabs located at the top of the View Pane section if you wish to change the number of days that the calendar displays.

Creating a Calendar Entry

To create a simple calendar entry, click the drop-down menu on the New button, and then select the type of entry you wish to create. The form layout that will open depends on the type of calendar entry you have selected. Here are the different calendar entry types that you can create:

  • Appointment – to schedule time on your calendar.
  • Meeting – schedule time on your calendar and invite others.
  • Anniversary – to add an annual event to your calendar.
  • Reminder – to remind yourself of something at a particular time.
  • All Day Event – to schedule an entire day or block of days.
  • Event Announcement – invite others to an event, no invitee reply options.

After filling out the needed information such as the Subject, date, and location of the event, click Save and Close. The entry you have created will now be saved into your Calendar.

Accepting a Meeting

Whenever someone sets up a meeting and includes you in the invitation list, you will receive an email in your inbox from the person who created the meeting invitation. To accept the meeting invitation and add it to your calendar at the same time, click the Accept button normally found at the upper portion of the body of the invitation. Lotus Notes will then enter the meeting to your calendar automatically. The sender will receive a notification whether you have chosen to accept or decline his invitation.

Creating and Sending Meeting Invitations

In order to send out a meeting invitation, a meeting entry must be created first within the Calendar application. Perform the same procedures as with creating a calendar entry, making sure to select Meeting as the entry type. Fill out the appropriate information as you would for any typical calendar entry. Then, enter the email addresses or names of the people you would like to include in the invitation in the Required field, found in the Who section. Press theSave and Send Invitations when you are done.

Printing a Calendar

From the Calendar main screen, click the File menu, then select Print. In the Print Calendar dialog box, check the Print Calendar box under What to Print. In the Calendar Style List box, select your preferred calendar style. Then under the Print Range section, select the From and To dates, and then print OK to start printing your personalized calendar.


The Contacts Book keeps a list of people you regularly keep in touch with so you can save their email addresses, phone numbers, addresses, etc. To get started with Contacts Book, click its corresponding icon located on the Bookmark Bar.

Adding a Contact From a Message, Meeting Invitation, or To Do Item

Select the mail message, meeting invitation, or To Do item that contains the contact information, then click the Actions menu. Select More, then select Add Sender to Contacts. You have the option to fill out other information about the contact, then click the OK button to save it to your Contacts Book.

Creating a Group

To create one, click the groups folder in the Navigation Pane, then click the New Group button in the View Pane, and then select Group. In the Group box, enter the name you wish to use for the group. Now click the drop-down arrow next to Members, and then select the contacts you would like to include in that group. Click the Add button once you are done selecting all the contacts you want to include. Click the OK button, then click Save & Close to save the group.


The To Do application allows you to organize personal tasks and assign tasks to others. To open it, click the To Do icon located on the Bookmark Bar.

Creating a To Do Item

To create a personal To Do item, click the New To Do Item button at the top of the View Pane. Fill out all the necessary information in the fields provided, then click Save and Close to save the To Do item. You can also perform a shortcut for this task by dragging a To Do item, drag a Mail message, or Calendar entry onto the To Do icon on the Bookmark Bar.

Assigning a To Do Task to Others

Assigning a To Do is basically similar as to creating a personal To Do item, but this time you will need to assign it to one or more of your contacts. After creating a To Do item, select Others in the Assign to option. Specify the email address or name of the person whom you will be assigning the task to, then fill out the Optional and FYI fields if needed. Click the Save and Send Assignments button to complete the task.


Sametime is a built-in chat and presence awareness tool that gives you the ability to securely chat or to send messages to others. It also allows you to see the availability of people online. Some of the benefits in using Sametime is that it allows you to chat with more than one person at the same time (called as the multi-way chat), and it also supports rich text, timestamps, spell check, and emoticons within the chat session.

Understanding Availability Status

Availability Status are icons that appear next to each contact’s name indicating who is online, who is available to chat, or who is currently on a meeting and should not be disturbed. Below is a sample screenshot showing several availability status icons:

To learn more on the different icons and their meanings, the table below will further describe each availability status.

Setting Sametime Status Changes Automatically

To instruct Sametime to automatically change your status, select File, then Preferences, then Sametime, and then select Auto-Status Changes. Check the situation(s) wherein you would like your availability status to change. For example, a very good situation to select is the Meetings scheduled in my calendar. This will automatically change your Sametime’s availability status based on your Calendar’s scheduled meetings. Next thing to do is select the availability status you prefer for Keyboard and mouse inactivity. Once you are done, click Apply, then OK.

Starting a Chat

Here are several different ways on how to start chatting with your contacts:

  • Double-click the contact’s name to open a chat window for that particular contact, then you can start chatting.
  • Right-click the contact’s name from the list, then select the Chat option.
  • Right-click a message in your mail, select the person’s name, and then select the Chat option.
  • If a person you want to chat with is currently not in your contact list, you can use the Type to find name field to search for the contact’s name. After entering the person’s name, hit [Enter] and you will see matching results from your search. After locating the correct name of the person, select it, and then press [Enter] once more. If the contact is online, a chat window will appear where you can start chatting. Otherwise, you will be given an option to send an email instead.

Using the Multi-Way Chat

Multi-way chat is a Sametime feature that allows you to either invite more than one person into your current chat, or select several contacts and then start chatting with them simultaneously. Want to find out how to use the multi-way chat? Try one of the methods below:

  • Click the Invite Others icon, then select the contacts you would like to join in your chat session. Alternatively, you can also do this by going to the Tools menu, then select Invite Others.
  • To be able to select more than one contact in multi-way chat, perform a [Ctrl] + left-click action for each contact in the list. Then right-click on your selection, and then select the Chat option. Each invited contact will be receiving a message that lets them either Join the Chat or Decline the invitation.

The screenshot below shows a sample of a two-way chat window.

When you are finished chatting, close the chat window by clicking File, then select Close or simply by clicking the X button of the window.


The Notebook application, formerly known as Personal journal, allows you to save stray pieces of information and to keep your private documents. You can use Notebook to serve as your diary, to store meeting minutes or status reports, or use it as a place to create and store draft documents. To get started, click the Notebook icon located at the Bookmark Bar.

Creating a Notebook

To create a Notebook from scratch, click File, then click Application, and then select New. When the New Application dialog box opens, look for the Specify Template for New Application section, and then select the Notebooktemplate from the list. Provide a name for the Notebook document that you can easily remember. That’s it!

Creating Notebook Entries

A Notebook entry is the default document when using the Notebook application. If you want to create a Notebook entry, click the New option. You can also manage your Notebook entries by category or folders, or even both. To do this, just type the name of the category that you want to place the entry in the Category field.

You can also specify what to include in the header using the Display menu. You can get to choose whether you want to include the date, header, and category fields.

Securing Your Notebook Entry

To make sure that nobody can access your Notebook entry, you can set an encryption to your Notebook document. Go to File, then go to Application, and then Properties. From there, click Encryption Settings, and then select theLocally encrypt this database using option. Now, you can select your preferred encryption length, and then specify your password. Now no one will ever get to peak at your prized Glazed Chicken recipe!

Now that you already know the basics of Lotus Notes 8.5, go ahead and install one yourself to enjoy the benefits this program can offer.

Are you using Lotus Notes? Share your experience.


  • Packt Publishing

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