Lotus Notes liberation: How to forward everything to Gmail

An editor yesterday said she’d send me a document from her Gmail account, because that would be easier than using her office’s Lotus Notes system. I could only chuckle and say “I know what you’re talking about.”

Yes, I’m afraid that the Post uses Notes as well. I was lucky enough not to spend too much time in that malformed excuse for an e-mail client; for a long time, I had an account on an outside system (that’s where my rob@twp.com address came from) and then had access to a newsroom trial of the Domino server’s IMAP access. But I was still irritated by the continued existence of this bloated groupware system–worse yet, an out-of-date version of a bloated groupware system–so poorly suited to busy reporters who were often out of the office and almost never touched its intra-office collaboration tools.

So after years of writing memos to higher-ups lobbying for a standards-based mail system, I elected to subvert the system from within. I wrote a piece for the newsroom intranet about how to forward all of your Notes mail to an outside account–while still replying from a washpost.com address. Below, as a public service to those of you stuck with Notes at work, is an updated copy of that how-to.

You can take advantage of a lesser-known Notes feature to send a copy of all your mail to any other account, automatically and nearly instantly. Google’s Gmail service is one of the more popular options around for this–it provides some of the best offline-access features of the free Web-mail services–but most of the following directions would work for another Web-mail option or any other mail account.

The first and most complicated step is to tell Notes to send a copy of all of your incoming mail to Gmail. To begin that, click the Tools icon at the left side of the Notes window, click the Rules icon that will appear below it, and then click the “New Rule” button towards the top of the screen.

In the “New Rule” dialog box, click the first menu under the “Create condition” heading, scroll all the way down and select “All Documents,” and click the “Add” button. Select the menu to the right of “AND,” starting with “sender,” and scroll down to select “All Documents” there too. Under the “Specify Actions” heading, choose “send copy to” and enter the destination e-mail address in the “to:” field. Then click the “Add Action” button and click the “OK” button at the bottom of the window to activate this rule. The results should look like what you see in the screen capture here, only with your address included–unless you’d prefer to send all your e-mail to me. (Using a personal domain name instead of a Gmail address, as shown in that screengrab, is fairly easy to do with a special kind of free Gmail account called Google Apps Standard Edition.)

You’ll now have every incoming message copied intact to Gmail, without any weird re-formatting or any other sign that it’s been relayed. But at the same time, messages will continue to arrive in Notes as they did before.

Finally, adding your work return address to the Gmail account will free you from having to tell correspondents to look for messages coming from a new address; follow Google’s instructions to make that adjustment. If you access Gmail through a regular mail program, like Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird or Apple’s Mail, you’ll also need to edit the Gmail account settings in that program.

Bear in mind that recipients using some mail systems may see your Gmail address mentioned after your work address–it can look something like “sent via soandso@gmail.com”–so choose a Gmail username that will look professional and identifiable as you.

(Prefer anybody but Google for your e-mail? At Microsoft’s Hotmail, you can add a custom return address in much the same way as at Gmail. Yahoo Mail offers about the same option–but charges $20 a year for offline access.)

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35 thoughts on “Lotus Notes liberation: How to forward everything to Gmail

  1. Pingback: Ibm Lotus Notes System

  2. If your Lotus Notes system allows POP and SMTP access, Gmail can download your mail and send it back out using the same server. That way you don’t get that funny “sent via soandso@gmail.com.” I’ve done that with my university accounts (they use Novell Groupwise, which is the same type of crappy system). The emails look just like they’ve come from your e-mail account.

    So glad you’re still blogging Rob. Your blog and columns were the only reason I read the WaPo.

  3. Just as a reminder, if any of your business mail is sensitive or health information or other kinds of stuff that really needs to be kept private and/or secure, (for legal, ethical or moral reasons) forwarding or even popping mail could inadvertently expose it. Just saying……

  4. Pingback: 2011 blogging stats: you came, you saw, you clicked | Rob Pegoraro

  5. I did this months ago in order to be able to recieve work e-mails to my personal phone, but no longer want to recieve the e-mails to my google account. I tried just deleting the rule, but Lotus is still forwarding all emails to my gmail.

    Is there something I’m missing? How can I turn this off?

  6. If you did not first disable the rule before you “deleted” it, what you have done is just hidden it from view. You will need to ask an admin to go into the Calendar Profile to delete the hidden rule.

  7. Maybe it will be interesting: Awesync.Mail performs automatic sync of mail from Notes to Google. It’s available for Windows, Linux and Mac and so far is free.

  8. Pingback: A look back at 2012′s blogging stats | Rob Pegoraro

  9. I don’t see the point. It is completely stupid to forward all your mails, no matter the reason. In this case, ask your admins to install Lotus Traveler and you’ll get all your Notes mail, contacts and calendar on your phone or tablet via the Traveler app.

    By the way, I do not agree with the author’s statement Notes would be a “malformed excuse for an e-mail client”. Notes wasn’t designed to be an e-mail client in the first place. If e-mail is the only thing you do with Notes, the problem sits outside of the computer. Nevertheless, at the latest since Notes 8 mail works like a charm. If you are still on older versions go kick the asses of your admins.

  10. Lotus is forwarding only mails from my company server,(from my colleagues mail id). It is not forwarding any mails from an out side server like gmail, or yahoo. What should i do to get it?????????/

    • If you selected “All Documents,” that should do it. But if your admins have something configured weird, then it might be out of your hands. (Also, bear in mind that I haven’t so much as looked at a running copy of Notes in almost two years and don’t plan to do so ever again, so I’m not the best person for tech support; I hope somebody else reading this can provide more specific help.)

  11. Hi Rob, thanks for posting this (two years ago, haha)! It has definitely helped me. Here’s where my problem lies. My company keeps threatening to block more websites, and gmail may be one. I’m setting up my system to use Thunderbird, but I want copies of my sent mail to be saved in Lotus Notes just in case. Gmail doesn’t do universal BCC so I’m not sure how to get them to go the other direction. You probably don’t work much in Lotus anymore, but even pointing me in the right place to look for answers would be super helpful!

  12. Thank you for this useful tutorial, unfortunately sys admins seem to have disabled the forwarding rule option in my brand new Lotus 2001 :-(

  13. Good post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon every day.
    It’s always exciting to read through articles from other writers and use a little something from other sites.

  14. Pingback: 2013 blogging stats: You still hate Lotus Notes, and I guess I should still miss Google Reader | Rob Pegoraro

  15. I think this is among the most vital information for me.
    And i am glad reading your article. But should remark on some general
    things, The site style is perfect, the articles is really excellent :
    D. Good job, cheers

  16. Pingback: Mail merge? Work, home and other e-mail addresses | Rob Pegoraro

  17. Notes Rules! Anyone who can’t handle LN client should stay away from a PC. If implemented correctly it is the most secure and collaboration aware email solution around. Forwarding company email to public hosters (buzzword cloud) is in most countries against the law. Especially a google where everyone (NSA) can read in on your mail is not the right way to treat your email.

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