Step-By-Step: Working with address books in Lotus Notes

Track information with Lotus Notes Address Book database

By Tony Patton

I am always surprised by the number of users who allow their Inboxes to become inundated with messages. They want to keep the older messages, so they allow them to pile up until it's virtually impossible to find anything in the clutter.

I’ve often been called compulsive, because I cringe at the sight of an overflowing Inbox. The sheer site of the clutter signals chaos. After all, do you leave your postal mail in a pile even when it has been read?

I firmly believe users should process incoming messages using a three-step process: open, read, and act. The last step may involve responding and then discarding the message or placing it in a folder. Lotus Notes allows you to customize your e-mail storage with folders, which allows users to easily store and categorize messages.

Let's walk through some instructions for setting up a basic folder system within Lotus Notes. Use it to teach your users about the joys of an empty Inbox.

Basic folders
Figure A shows a typical Lotus Notes 6 Inbox. It contains a few messages, and this one already contains a few folders. That's right, the Inbox and Trash are folders. All incoming messages are routed to the Inbox folder (unless redirected by a rule), and deleted items are automatically placed in the Trash folder. Items may be placed in a folder, such as Trash, by dragging and dropping the item to the destination.

Figure A

Creating a folder
Lotus Notes mail makes it easy to create a folder. A new folder may be created by right-clicking on an existing folder and selecting New Folder or by selecting the option from the Actions menu as shown in Figure B.

Figure B

The dialog box shown in Figure C is presented when creating a new folder. From here, you choose the options for the new folder. The user assigns a folder name and specifies where the folder appears in the current folder hierarchy. The folder highlighted specifies the parent of the newly created folder.

Figure C

For example, choosing TechRepublic in Figure C creates a new folder under TechRepublic. Figure D shows the creation of a new folder under TechRepublic. Choosing folders results in a top-level folder created alongside TechRepublic.

Figure D

Take advantage of those folders
The real power of folders is not their creation, but using them to organize messages. At this point, users can drag and drop their messages to a folder by using the mouse. This is the same approach as moving items to the Windows Recycle bin. Another alternative is the Actions menu selection in Figure B (notice the Move To Folder option).

The most popular approach will be to move the message once it has been opened. An open e-mail message provides a Move To Folder button to accomplish the task, as illustrated in Figure E.

Figure E

Once the move to folder option is selected, the dialog box in Figure F is presented. This facilitates folder destination selection for the message. Also, notice the Create New Folder button in Figure F. This allows on-the-fly folder creation, and clicking this button presents the same dialog box shown in Figure C.

Figure F
Selecting destination folder

Important notes
The last option available in Figure B is Remove From Folder. This option permanently deletes an item from a folder, bypassing the Trash folder, a point that should be clearly communicated to users. Another option for removing messages is to simply drag and drop them in the Trash folder. The same action is accomplished by pressing the delete key on a selected message or clicking the Delete button in an open message, as shown in Figure E.

It's also important to note that the folders themselves may be dragged and dropped into other folders, just like messages. This can help users to arrange their messages into organized configurations.

Folders allow better organization
Organizing mail messages with folders provides a clean approach to working with your Lotus Notes Inbox. Once established, users will quickly see the benefit to organizing their e-mail by subject, sender, or other category.

Have questions about Lotus Notes?
Author Tony Patton will be providing a series of how-to articles for Lotus Notes users. If you have questions or tasks you'd like him to address, send us an e-mail, or post your question below.