You might find some of your handheld users wanting to HotSync their Palms with their home PCs, which can lead to many problems, including needing home PC support, having to purchase extra licenses for the Palm software, and possible loss or damage from transporting the cradles to and from work.

Instead of trying to set up user home PCs to support HotSync, you can export the Palm Address database to a file, which you can convert and import into many personal information managers. This will allow Palm users to keep their Palm info on their home PCs and share their contacts with coworkers who don’t have Palm handhelds. Here, I will explain how to perform this transfer using Lotus Notes release 5 and the Palm Desktop version 4.0.1, but the process should be similar for most versions.

Export the contacts to a file
Moving your Palm Address database to Notes is a fairly simple process, but it involves a number of steps. First, HotSync your Palm and workstation to ensure the PC has the latest contact information. Then, you’ll need to export the database. Although the directions provided in this article assume you are managing your contacts on the PC via the Palm Desktop, most personal information managers (PIMs), such as Microsoft Outlook and Lotus Notes, allow you to export data in a variety of formats. If you synchronize your Palm with a PIM other than the Palm Desktop, follow the export procedures specific to that application.

With the Palm Desktop open, click the Address icon on the window’s left side. In the Address view, choose File To Export. In the resulting dialog box, select Comma Separated from the Export Type drop-down list and provide a recognizable filename. This will save the contact information as a comma separated value (CSV) file. (You could also select Tab Separated, but if you do, be sure you select the same file type when you import.)

You’ll probably also want to be sure the Range: radio button is set to All, but for simplicity’s sake, I’m explaining only how to export the selected record in this article. At this point, your screen should resemble the one shown in Figure A. Click Export.

Figure A
Export your Palm Address database to a comma separated value (CSV) file.

A dialog box will appear asking you to specify which fields to export. For this article, I’m just going to cover transferring basic business contact information. Deselect all but the following fields and click OK:

  • Last Name
  • First Name
  • Title
  • Company
  • Work
  • Fax
  • E-mail

Click OK again to dismiss the message box informing you of the successful export. Before you can import your contact data into Notes, you need to ensure that the field names are correct. I have found editing the file in a spreadsheet application to be an easy way of accomplishing this. For the purpose of this article, I used Microsoft Excel (because this is Office suite I have), but you could use Lotus 1-2-3.

Edit the exported file
From within Excel, click File | Open. Select Text Files from the Files Of Type drop-down list, navigate to your CSV file, and click Open. A spreadsheet will open with your seven fields appearing as columns. The columns, however, lack field names. This is the core of the technique: You’ll add a header row that contains valid Lotus Notes Address Book field names.

To do so, click the row indicator for row 1 (the gray box to the left of cell A1 in which the number 1 appears), which will select the entire row. Either right-click this row indicator and choose Insert or click Insert | Rows from the toolbar. A blank row will appear at the top of your database.

Beginning with cell A1, enter the following column headers (be sure to enter them exactly as shown):

  • LastName
  • FirstName
  • Title
  • CompanyName
  • OfficePhoneNumber
  • OfficeFaxPhoneNumber
  • MailAddress

When you’ve finished, convert the CSV file to a Lotus 1-2-3 worksheet that you can import into Notes by clicking File | Save As. In the Save As Type dialog box, choose WK4 to convert the database to a 1-2-3 format, as shown in Figure B.

Figure B
Save the CSV file as a Lotus 1-2-3 worksheet.

In the figure, I changed the column widths so you could see their contents. Click Save; a dialog box will appear informing you that your worksheet might contain incompatible formats. Click Yes to save anyway; you don’t have to worry about formats this time. Now it’s time to switch over to Lotus Notes to import your contacts.

Import the edited file into Lotus Notes
In Lotus Notes, be sure you’re viewing the Address Book and then click File | Import. In the resulting dialog box, select Lotus 1-2-3 Worksheet from the Files Of Type drop-down list and navigate to the location where you saved your address database, as shown in Figure C. Select the file and click Import.

Figure C
Locate your Lotus Notes worksheet.

You’ll see the Structured Text Import dialog box. Be sure you select the settings shown in Table A exactly (as shown in Figure D).

Table A
Option Set to
Use Form text box Contact
Import As Main Document
Column Format WKS Title Defined

Figure D
Use these settings to import your contact information.

Also, be sure to select the Calculate Fields On Form During Document Import check box. When you’ve established all these settings, click OK. Your contacts should appear in your Notes Address Book.

Just for Outlook users
While this article focuses on importing your Palm contacts into Lotus Notes, you can also import them into Outlook. My next article will cover how to accomplish this same task with Microsoft Outlook. Stay tuned.

Get on our Palm list

The popular Palm handheld devices keep busy IT professionals in touch and on schedule. Find out how you can maximize the use of your PDA by automatically subscribing to our Palm TechMail delivered each Wednesday—free!