Bristle Software Lotus Notes Tips

This page is offered as a service of Bristle Software, Inc.  New tips are sent to an associated mailing list when they are posted here.  Please send comments, corrections, any tips you'd like to contribute, or requests to be added to the mailing list, to tips@bristle.com.

Table of Contents:

  1. User Tips
    1. Keyboard Shortcuts
    2. Keyboard Shortcuts For Toolbar Buttons
    3. Monitoring Databases
    4. Searching
      1. Searching A View
      2. Searching A Single Document
      3. Searching Multiple Documents
      4. Indexed Searches
        1. Indexed Searches Are Faster
        2. Searching Attachments
        3. No Searching For Partial Words
        4. Searching For Combinations Of Words
        5. Searching For Exact Phrases
        6. Searching For Word Variants
        7. Fuzzy Search
        8. Searching For Recently Added Content
        9. Deleting A Database Index
      5. No Searching For Wildcards, Patterns Or Regular Expressions
      6. Stepping Through Matches From The Preview Pane
      7. Stepping Through Matches In An Open Document
      8. Sorting Matched Documents
        1. Keep Current Order (Sortable)
        2. Show All Documents (Sortable)
        3. Sorting Matched Documents By Relevance
        4. Sorting Matched Documents By Date Modified
      9. Specifying Fields To Search
      10. Query By Example
      11. Max Search Results
      12. Saving Named Searches
      13. Help On Searching
  2. Programmer Tips
    1. Sending E-mail From a Program

Details of Tips:

  1. User Tips

    1. Keyboard Shortcuts

      Last Updated: 12/17/2001
      Applies to: Lotus Notes 4.5+

      Use the following keys to interact efficiently with Lotus Notes, without using the mouse.

      Enter Open current document (when doc is not open)
      Enter Next document in view (when doc is open)
      Backspace Previous document in view (when doc is open)
      Esc Close current window
      Ctrl-Break Abort current operation
      Tab / Shift-Tab Next / previous unread document
      Delete Toggle delete flag
      Insert Toggle unread mark
      F1 Help
      F2 / Shift-F2 Larger / smaller font
      F3 / Shift-F3 Next / previous selected document
      F4 / Shift-F4 Next / previous unread document
      F5 Logout of Notes
      F6 / Shift-F6 Next / previous pane
      Ctrl-F6 / Ctrl-Shift-F6 Next / previous window
      F7 / Shift-F7 Indent / outdent line (hanging indent)
      F8 / Shift-F8 Indent / outdent paragraph
      F9 / Shift-F9 Refresh (fetch new mail, resolve addresses, etc.) / Rebuild view
      F11 Cycle through bullet/basic/headline styles
      Ctrl-A Select All
      Ctrl-B Toggle bold
      Ctrl-C Copy
      Ctrl-E Toggle edit mode
      Ctrl-F Find and replace
      Ctrl-G Find or replace next
      Ctrl-I Toggle italics
      Ctrl-J Format paragraphs (margins, tabs, line spacing, etc.)
      Ctrl-K Format text (font, size, color, etc.)
      Ctrl-L Access a Web page
      Ctrl-Shift-L Insert page break
      Ctrl-M New mail message
      Ctrl-N New database
      Ctrl-O Open database
      Ctrl-P Print
      Ctrl-R Show ruler (to allow you to set tabs, indentation, etc.)
      Ctrl-S Save
      Ctrl-T Make text normal (no bold, italics, underline, etc.)
      Ctrl-U Toggle underline
      Ctrl-V Paste
      Ctrl-W Close window
      Ctrl-X Cut
      Ctrl-Z Undo
      Keypad Plus Expand branch of tree by one level
      Plus (See Shift-Plus below, since Plus is the shift of Equals.)
      Keypad Minus Collapse branch of tree
      Minus Collapse branch of tree
      Keypad Asterisk Expand branch of tree completely
      Asterisk (See Shift-Asterisk below, since Asterisk is the shift of 8.)
      Shift-Keypad Plus Expand entire tree completely
      Shift-Plus Expand entire tree completely
      Shift-Keypad Minus Collapse entire tree completely
      Shift-Minus (No such thing.  Shift of Minus is Underscore.)
      Shift-Keypad Asterisk Expand entire tree completely
      Shift-Asterisk Expand entire tree completely
      Ctrl-Plus / Ctrl-Minus Next / previous match of current search within a document

      For a complete list of the keyboard shortcuts (in version 5), use the Help menu:

              Help | Index | Shortcuts | Keyboard

      --Fred

    2. Keyboard Shortcuts For Toolbar Buttons

      Last Updated: 11/30/2001
      Applies to: Lotus Notes 5+

      Here's an interesting technique for showing accelerator keys.  In many applications, you have to hover the mouse over each toolbar button to see the accelerator key for that button.  Lotus Notes R5 takes a different approach.  Hold the Alt key down for a few seconds, and a small white box (tooltip) pops up near each toolbar button showing its accelerator key.

      In fact, you can use this technique to navigate a whole tree of context-sensitive menu bars.  If you hold down Alt, the tooltips for the accelerator keys appear.  For some keys, when you hit them a 2nd set of tooltips appears. If you then release Alt and hit one of keys from the 2nd set, a 3rd set may appear, etc.  

      However, beware of continuing to hold down the Alt key after hitting the key for the 1st level. The 2nd level is only a 2nd level if you've released Alt. Otherwise, it's a 1st level, but the tooltips for the 1st level aren't shown, so you're running blind.  For example: 

      1. Alt-B, 2 (release Alt before hitting 2) does "Calendar"
      2. Alt-B-2  (still holding Alt when you hit 2) does "Send and File"

      --Fred

    3. Monitoring Databases

      Last Updated: 7/24/1999
      Applies to: Lotus Notes 4.5+

      Want an easy way to monitor one or more Lotus Notes databases for new messages?

      Add the databases to your "preferred database" list, starting from the Edit menu:

      	Edit | Unread Marks | Scan Preferred... | Choose Preferred

      (or just hit Tab while at your Notes "workspace" and then click Choose Preferred).

      Once you have the list of preferred databases set up, you can just hit Tab at the Notes workspace to start searching through them.  It will skip past databases with no unread messages, stopping at each one with unread messages.  In each database, you can hit Tab to skip from one unread message to the next.   While reading an unread message, hit Esc to see the view that contains it, so you can see whether it is a reply to some other message, what category it is in, etc.

      To have Notes kick off the search automatically at startup, use:

      	File | Tools | User Preferences | Basics | Startup options = "Scan for unread"

      --Fred

    4. Searching

      1. Searching A View

        Last Updated: 1/10/2003
        Applies to: Lotus Notes 3.2+

        While looking at a Lotus Notes "view" (subject lines of e-mail messages, subject lines of notes in a discussion database, table of contents of a Notes database, etc.), you can search the lines of the view via Ctrl-F or the menu Edit | Find/Replace... or the flashlight toolbar button.  This searches the view, but not the entire documents, for the specified string.  If you are certain that the Notes document (mail message, note, etc.) is included in the view, and you know a string that is contained in the view, this may be the easiest way to find the document.

        Click Options... in the Find dialog box to see the advanced options, where you can specify a case-sensitive/insensitive search, search for whole words only, search forwards/backward/both, etc.  There is no support for wildcards, patterns, or regular expressions.

        Beware that, if any of the lines of the view wrap to multiple physical lines in the window, the found text may not be scrolled into sight.  Due to a bug in Notes (still there in version 5.0.3) you may have to scroll down a couple lines to see the matched text.  Unfortunately, to do that, you have to dismiss the modal Find dialog box.  Fortunately, you can continue searching for the same string by hitting Ctrl-G, so you don't have to keep popping up and dismissing the Find dialog box.

        Thanks to Ed Schindler for his contributions to this tip.

        --Fred

      2. Searching A Single Document

        Last Updated: 1/10/2003
        Applies to: Lotus Notes 3.2+

        While looking at a Lotus Notes document (e-mail message, note in a discussion database, help page, etc.), you can search the text of the document via Ctrl-F or the menu Edit | Find/Replace... or the flashlight toolbar button.  This searches the current document for the specified string.  

        Click Options... in the Find dialog box to see the advanced options, where you can specify a case-sensitive/insensitive search, search for whole words only, search forwards/backward/both, etc.  There is no support for wildcards, patterns, or regular expressions.  Also, attached files are not searched.

        Unfortunately, the Find dialog box is modal, so you can't find find an occurrence of the string, edit it, find the next, etc. without dismissing the Find dialog.  Fortunately, you can continue searching for the same string by hitting Ctrl-G, so you don't have to keep popping up and dismissing the Find dialog box.

        --Fred

      3. Searching Multiple Documents

        Last Updated: 1/10/2003
        Applies to: Lotus Notes 5.0+

        While looking at a Lotus Notes "view" (subject lines of e-mail messages, subject lines of notes in a discussion database, table of contents of a Notes database, etc.), you can search the entire contents of all documents in the view (e-mail messages, notes in a discussion database, help pages, etc.) via the "search bar".  To display the search bar, use the magnifying glass or binoculars button in the toolbar, or the menu View | Search Bar.

        In older versions of Notes, and in Notes databases that are not "indexed", the capabilities offered by the search bar are similar to those described above.  You can only search for exact matches of specified strings.

        As of Notes 5.0, a database may be "indexed".  This means that the documents have all been searched in advance, and an index has been built of all of the words found in them.  Indexed searches have several advantages and disadvantages, discussed in the following tips.

        --Fred

      4. Indexed Searches

        Last Updated: 1/10/2003
        Applies to: Lotus Notes 5.0+

        As of Notes 5.0, a database may be "indexed".  This means that the documents have all been searched in advance, and an index has been built of all of the words found in them.  Indexed searches have several advantages and disadvantages, discussed in the following tips.

        --Fred

        1. Indexed Searches Are Faster

          Last Updated: 1/10/2003
          Applies to: Lotus Notes 5.0+

          An indexed search of a Notes database is faster than an un-indexed search.  Instead of scanning all of the text of the documents for the specified string, it only has to look up the specified words in the index.

          --Fred

        2. Searching Attachments

          Last Updated: 1/10/2003
          Applies to: Lotus Notes 5.0+

          The un-indexed searches described above do not find matches that occur inside attached documents (Microsoft Word files, etc.).  Indexed searches do search attachments.  

          However, any document with a size greater than 6MB, including all attachments, is omitted from the index.  Therefore, no search will find such a document.  This is documented in Help | Help Topics | Index | Indexes, full-text | creating | To create a full-text index | Indexing and size.

          --Fred

        3. No Searching For Partial Words

          Last Updated: 1/10/2003
          Applies to: Lotus Notes 5.0+

          Indexed searches only find whole word matches.  You can't search for "read" and find "tread" as you can with un-indexed searches.

          --Fred

        4. Searching For Combinations Of Words

          Last Updated: 1/10/2003
          Applies to: Lotus Notes 5.0+

          Indexed searches allow you to search for various combinations of words, like:
              abc AND (def OR ghi) AND NOT "xyz pdq"

          In the More tab of the search bar, there is a Multiple words... button that allows you to specify up to 8 words and the choice to search for documents that contain Any or All of the words.  

          However, I can't imagine why would anyone would use this button.  Why subject yourself to this clunky interface with its limited set of choices, when you can just type an expression like the one above directly into the Search for box?  Much more powerful, and also easier to use!

          --Fred

        5. Searching For Exact Phrases

          Last Updated: 1/10/2003
          Applies to: Lotus Notes 5.0+

          If you type a phrase containing multiple words like:
              the quick brown fox
          as an indexed search, it searches for the exact phrase, which is the same behavior you get when you enclose the phrase in double quotes:
              "the quick brown fox"

          Such a search will find only documents that contain the exact phrase, not those that contain all of the individual words.  To override this behavior, you have to type something like:
              the AND quick AND brown AND fox

          --Fred

        6. Searching For Word Variants

          Last Updated: 1/10/2003
          Applies to: Lotus Notes 5.0+

          In the More tab of the search bar, there is an option that controls whether or not "word variants" are matched during a search.  With this option, you can find things like:
              searched
             
          searching
             
          searches
          when searching for the word:
              search

          --Fred

        7. Fuzzy Search

          Last Updated: 1/10/2003
          Applies to: Lotus Notes 5.0+

          In the More tab of the search bar, there is an option that controls whether or not "fuzzy searches" are done.  I'm not sure exactly what the rules are, but this searches for phrases "similar" to the one you specified.  Try it if your search is coming up empty.

          --Fred

        8. Searching For Recently Added Content

          Last Updated: 1/10/2003
          Applies to: Lotus Notes 5.0+

          Unfortunately, an indexed search is only as accurate as its index, and indexes do not get updated immediately when documents are added, deleted, or changed.

          The More tab of the search bar offers an Update Index button (or Create Index..., if not yet indexed), but you may not be authorized to update the index on all databases you use.  Even if you are authorized, the button may not update the index immediately; it may only schedule an update to occur soon.  Get used to the idea that the most recently added documents and most recent changes may not be reflected in the index.  

          The properties of an indexed database, accessible via the menu File | Database | Properties... | Full Text (magnifying glass icon), show when its index was last updated and how often it is typically updated (probably once per day or so).

          --Fred

        9. Deleting A Database Index

          Last Updated: 1/10/2003
          Applies to: Lotus Notes 5.0+

          Use the menu File | Database | Properties... | Full Text (magnifying glass icon) | Delete Index... to delete the index of an indexed database, reverting it back to an un-indexed database.  This is useful if you need to search for a string that is not necessarily a whole word.

          --Fred

      5. No Searching For Wildcards, Patterns Or Regular Expressions

        Last Updated: 1/10/2003
        Applies to: Lotus Notes 5.0+

        Lotus Notes has no support for searches that include wildcards, patterns, or Unix-style "regular expressions".  You can only search for words, strings, and combinations thereof.

        --Fred

      6. Stepping Through Matches From The Preview Pane

        Last Updated: 1/10/2003
        Applies to: Lotus Notes 5.0+

        Once you've done a search from a view, you can step through the matches via the left and right arrow buttons next to the Clear Results button in the More tab of the search bar.  The first click opens the preview pane showing the contents of the first matched document in the view, with the document scrolled to the first match, with all matches highlighted in green.  Subsequent clicks scroll forward to the next match in the document or back to the previous match in the document.  

        Having said all that, I can't get it to behave consistently.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  Sometimes, it finds only the first match in a document, sometimes all of them.  I have no idea what the pattern is yet.

        To close the preview pane, use the menu View | Document Preview | Show Preview, or drag the divider to the bottom of the window.

        --Fred

      7. Stepping Through Matches In An Open Document

        Last Updated: 1/10/2003
        Applies to: Lotus Notes 5.0+

        Once you've done a search from a view and explicitly opened a matched document, you can step through the matches within the document via the Ctrl-Plus and Ctrl-Minus keys.  Matches are scrolled into sight and highlighted in green.

        Having said that, I can't get it to behave consistently.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  Sometimes, it finds only the first match in a document, sometimes all of them.  I have no idea what the pattern is yet.

        You might have better luck, after opening the document, using Ctrl-F to do a search within the document, and Ctrl-G to find each subsequent match, though even that seems to sometime get hung up on the first match.  Hmmm...

        --Fred 

      8. Sorting Matched Documents

        Last Updated: 1/10/2003
        Applies to: Lotus Notes 5.0+

        In the More tab of the search bar, there is an option that controls the order in which matched documents are displayed in a view.  The options are discussed in the following tips.

        --Fred

        1. Keep Current Order (Sortable)

          Last Updated: 1/10/2003
          Applies to: Lotus Notes 5.0+

          The Keep current order (sortable) option shows the matched documents in the same order they would have if no search were in effect.  This mode is useful if you have already sorted the view meaningfully, and don't want to lose that order.  There doesn't seem to be a way to re-sort the documents, however, without re-doing the search.

          This option automatically turns on the "search results only" mode (see menu View | Show | Search Results Only), which means that only matching documents are represented in the view.

          For databases containing hierarchies of documents (for example, a discussion database with top level topic documents that can have associated trees of comment documents), each matched document can be represented in the view by itself, or by an ancestor document.  If you click the menu View | Expand All, or the "++" button in the toolbar, each matched document is represented by itself.  If you click the menu View | Collapse All, or the "--" button in the toolbar, each matched document is represented by its top level ancestor document.  The initial items shown depend on which mode you were in before the search.  

          In any case, a checkmark is used to indicate whether the document is a match or only the ancestor of a match.  If there is a checkmark next to the document, it is a match, but may also be an ancestor of documents containing matches.  If no, checkmark, it is only an ancestor.  You can click the usual Notes triangles (or the various keyboard shortcuts -- Plus, Minus, Asterisk, Shift-Plus, Shift-Minus, Shift-Asterisk, etc.) to expand and collapse branches of the tree, but only the branches with matches are shown.

          One thing I don't like about this mode is that you can't see both a matched document and its ancestors, unless the ancestors also happen to contain matches.

          Clicking on the checkmark itself de-selects the document, which causes it to disappear from the view.  This can be useful, if you want to work your way through the list of matches, explicitly removing the false hits.  However, it is easy to accidentally click a checkmark, intending to click the expand/collapse triangle, and have the document disappear without warning.  If you do so, there doesn't seem to be a way to bring it back into the view, without bringing back all others as well by re-searching.  Too fragile!

          Thanks to Ed Schindler for his contributions to this tip.

          --Fred

        2. Show All Documents (Sortable)

          Last Updated: 1/10/2003
          Applies to: Lotus Notes 5.0+

          The Show all documents (sortable) option is similar to the Keep current order (sortable) option, except that it shows both matching and non-matching documents.  You can flip back and forth between these 2 modes via the menu View | Show | Search Results Only.

          In this mode, a selection checkmark is shown next to each matching document, but only if the matching document is not collapsed out of sight.  You can use the various expand/collapse techniques to manipulate the hierarchy of documents as usual, to find all of the checkmarks.  Hit F3 and Shift-F3 to skip to the next and previous matching documents.  If they are collapsed out of sight, these keys take you to their visible ancestor, and you have to expand to find the matching document.

          Thanks to Ed Schindler for his contributions to this tip.

          --Fred

        3. Sorting Matched Documents By Relevance

          Last Updated: 1/10/2003
          Applies to: Lotus Notes 5.0+

          When matched documents are sorted by Relevance, Notes displays the most relevant at the top of the list, and displays a color-coded (actually grey levels only) bar to the left of the list showing relevance levels.  This mode also has the following side effects:

          1. No selection checkmarks are shown.
          2. The "fully expanded mode" (++) is turned on.
          3. The "search results only" mode is turned on.

          Thanks to Ed Schindler for his contributions to this tip.

          --Fred

        4. Sorting Matched Documents By Date Modified

          Last Updated: 1/10/2003
          Applies to: Lotus Notes 5.0+

          You can also sort matched documents by Last modified or First modified.

          --Fred

      9. Specifying Fields To Search

        Last Updated: 1/10/2003
        Applies to: Lotus Notes 5.0+

        In the More tab of the search bar, there are options to specify which fields of a document to search.  You can search for documents that contain one combination of words in one field and/or other combinations in other fields.

        --Fred

      10. Query By Example

        Last Updated: 1/10/2003
        Applies to: Lotus Notes 5.0+

        In the More tab of the search bar, there is a Fill out example form... option to do a typical "query by example" search.  It shows you a blank form and you type in the words to be matched in each field.

        --Fred

      11. Max Search Results

        Last Updated: 1/10/2003
        Applies to: Lotus Notes 5.0+

        In the More tab of the search bar, you can specify the maximum number of matching documents to find.  The default is 250, which you may find too low.  If you don't find a document you expected to find, you may need to increase the limit.

        --Fred

      12. Saving Named Searches

        Last Updated: 1/10/2003
        Applies to: Lotus Notes 5.0+

        In the More tab of the search bar, you can name and save the searches you define, and later re-search the database by the same criteria.  If you have sufficient access rights in the database, you can save the searches as shared searches, available to all users of the database.

        Thanks to Ed Schindler for his contributions to this tip.

        --Fred

      13. Help On Searching

        Last Updated: 1/10/2003
        Applies to: Lotus Notes 3.2+

        For more information about searching Notes databases, see the Notes on-line help.  Click on the option you want to know about and hit F1, or use the menu Help | Help Topics.  Useful topics include:

            Searching for Information
            Search troubleshooting
            Search tips
            Search options
            Fuzzy search
            etc.

        --Fred

  2. Programmer Tips

    1. Sending E-mail From a Program

      Last Updated: 6/26/1999
      Applies to: Lotus Notes 4.5+

      Here is a short VB code snippet showing how to send a Lotus Notes e-mail message programmatically.

      	Dim notesApp As Object '-- NOTESSESSION
      	Set notesApp = CreateObject("Notes.NotesSession")
      	Dim notesDB As Object '-- NOTESDATABASE
      	Set notesDB = notesApp.GETDATABASE("your server name", "your mail.NSF name")
      	Dim notesDoc As Object '-- NOTESDOCUMENT
      	Set notesDoc = notesDB.CREATEDOCUMENT
      	With notesDoc
      	    .SendTo = "address of To: recipient"
      	    .CopyTo = "address of Cc: recipient"
      	    .Subject = "subject line"
      	    .Body = "body text"
      	    Dim notesAttachment As Object '-- NOTESITEM
      	    Set notesAttachment = .CREATERICHTEXTITEM("Attachment")
      	    notesAttachment.EMBEDOBJECT 1454, "", "filename.txt"
      	    .SEND False
      	End With

      Fill in appropriate values for the parts in italics.  You can do the same thing in VBA from Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Visio, etc.   Also, you can do the same from any other language (Java, C++, VBScript in a Web page, ASP, etc.) that can manipulate the Lotus Notes object model.  This will open a Lotus Notes Session on the desktop, but not close it when finished (anyone know how to get it to close?).  It will also prompt the interactive user for a password if required for access to the mail database -- the .NSF file (anyone know how to specify the password programmatically?).

      --Fred

©Copyright 1999-2014, Bristle Software, Inc.  All rights reserved.