I have a user who would like to make a local archive of his Lotus Notes mail file (we use Lotus Notes where I work) and then open it in another mail client, such as Outlook or Thunderbird.

IMAP is a last resort since that requires switching mail servers (which for us involves other prep to reduce the mail file size), but it is not out of the question (that is the suggestion here: How to export mails from Lotus Notes into another mail client?). To clarify, we have IMAP disabled on most of our mail servers (for information security or stability reasons, I'm assuming, though I would need to check the exact reasons with our mail admins), and so if someone wants to use IMAP we move them to the one server reserved for that. However, since we've had stability issues transferring large mail files (I'm talking of 15GB mail files with tens of thousands of emails), we require that people reduce the mail file to under 2GB and the inbox to 1,000 messages. In this particular case the user was wondering if there was some other way to archive his file for later use on other clients, without having to clean up his mail file.

Ideally, I would take the mail replica which is in .nsf format, and convert it to .pst format or some other format. The forums I have found seem to all have posts by people plugging their own dubious converters, so I am wondering if anyone has had any success with a particular converter (if they even exist). Others say it can't really be done easily.

It would also be possible for my customer to keep a copy of Lotus Notes installed solely for opening his mail file, but it would be easier to keep it in another mail client. There is a similar question asked here, but the answers point back to using an IBM product (https://stackoverflow.com/questions/1927655/how-to-read-lotus-notes-mail-archives-nsf).

There are paid converters, such as Stellar NSF to PST Converter, but I'm not sure if they are any good, and this isn't really something worth paying for since the archive would only be needed occasionally and there are other free workarounds (although, as mentioned, not ideal)

  • Is this a one-off request, or is the customer undergoing a migration? Also, why does IMAP require switching mail servers? Any Domino server should be able to support IMAP. Finally, have you talked to IBM. They have something they called "Project Hawthorne" and I think the formal name is "IBM mail support for Microsoft Outlook 2013". I think it is only in limited release, so it might require getting in touch with IBM's product managers in order to get it, but if the customer is big enough it could be what you want.
    – rhsatrhs
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 2:32
  • 2
    This is just a one-off request for one user. We're eventually moving away from Lotus Notes and will have a larger scale migration (not sure what tools will be used then since that project isn't finalized yet). I've updated the question to clarify the IMAP situation. In this case, I think I'll just need to work with the user to get his mail file ready to move via IMAP, although Project Hawthorne sounds like it is worth looking at for large scale migrations.
    – John
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 4:02
  • That all makes sense. I don't know what those various tools that show up with the obvious google search cost, and I've always been very suspicious of them myself. If you're going through a full migration, there's a good chance you'll be talking to Binary Tree or Dell (they acquired Quest a few years ago) about their migration tools. Maybe they would have a demo/trial toolkit that you could try for this one user's mailbox, so you could try contacting them in the name of "research" for your future migration. Their tools will be much more industrial-strength than anything else.
    – rhsatrhs
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 15:42

3 Answers 3


I found one other way to make an archive of emails is to drag and drop the email out of Lotus Notes and into a folder in Windows Explorer. Doing this automatically saves them in .eml format, and is basically just a copy of the email headers. You can then open those in another email client. The benefit is that this can be done on a larger scale than saving email headers one at a time, though it's obviously more work than converting a replica. There should be a way to automate this too, I would think. As I explained in another comment, the most common situation we have this is where people are leaving our organization and want an archive of their mail. In some cases, all they want to copy is a few emails and so this solution makes sense. So in summary, these are the options:

1) IMAP (we only allow IMAP on one server so this involves a move, and to move we require people to reduce their mail file. Also, if this request is just a few days before their last day, a move might not be feasible)

2) Save a replica to be used only in Lotus Notes

3) Drag and drop to a folder to create .eml files that can be opened in any mail client. When I have tested this also includes attachments

One other note: When dragging and dropping, if it saves them as a shortcut make sure you have this setting correct (note, if you drag and drop a folder from Lotus Notes it will not save a file but rather a shortcut, no matter the settings):



Though I haven't used Notes much in the last 10 years or more, I can say that the converters do tend to work at least to some degree and only as long as you haven't customised your mail databases. However, they are a faff and of relatively little benefit.

I'd really have to question the benefit vs the cost of doing it.

You could, of course use the IMAP capability of Notes and allow the customer to connect to that. Certainly that would be the simplest solution and would be repeatable and usable by everyone. Even better, the mail would remain at source, you wouldn't be making copies that will get out of step. Not sure why you are saying that you would need another server? Is that because your Notes server isn't powerful enough?

Certainly I would not recommend the API route, it is a pain to work with and would be expensive to develop. I've trialled some converters in the past (sorry can't remember which ones) at they were OK with stock databases as long as you don't expect too much of them.

Do bear in mind that the proprietary format of Notes/Domino databases is far removed from the standards of email so you couldn't expect a perfect fit when trying to translate.

Sorry, not a brilliant answer but Notes is relatively rare in my experience these days so the knowledge is rather rusty.

  • I think your point about Notes being far removed from other email standards is useful to keep in mind, meaning that any conversion is pretty imprecise anyway. I put more info about our IMAP situation in the question. I think I'll probably just go with IMAP in this particular case, but I might test some converters and post what I find
    – John
    Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 4:05
  • IMAP has its own issues that I think are being compounded by Notes from your description. One thing to keep in mind, you should get users to clear out both their inbox and their sent items folders, having these too big has been known to cause issues for a number of IMAP mail servers. Other large folders should be OK. Commented Jun 9, 2015 at 5:43

You must know that both these email clients, i.e. Lotus Notes and Microsoft Outlook, support different file formats. Lotus Notes supports NSF or Notes Storage Facility format while Microsoft Outlook doesn’t support such format. Microsoft Outlook client creates an Outlook data file in PST or Personal Storage Format. So, if you want to migrate your NSF database in Microsoft Outlook, you must perform conversion of NSF to PST format.

At first, you should use the manual method. It is a free NSF to PST conversion method. It is recommended to have a backup copy of the original NSF file before performing the manual conversion, as the file can get damaged during the conversion process. The manual method to convert NSF files into PST files is performed in two stages.

1. Export NSF files from Lotus Notes to an intermediate CSV file 2. Import the intermediate CSV file into MS Outlook

Step I: Export NSF files to CSV

To export NSF files from Lotus Notes, perform the steps given below

Launch IBM Lotus Notes program. Click File > Open > Louts Notes Application. In the Open Application window, browse for the required NSF file and click Open. The selected NSF file gets opened. Now, on the File menu, click Export. On Export dialogue box, enter the file name, file location, and saving type. Select the Comma Separated Value format for the file. A dialogue box CSV Export gets open. Select the required options. Click OK The exported data gets saved in CSV file gets saved in the defined location.

Step II: Import CSV file into Outlook

Import the Intermediate CSV file into MS Outlook by following the steps:

Launch MS Outlook program. On the File menu, click Open & Export, and then click Import/Export. An Import and Export Wizard dialogue box pops up. Select Import from another program or file from the options. Click Next. Select Comma Separated Values as file type and click Next. Click Browse and select the path for CSV file created earlier using the Export command of Lotus Notes. You can select the options according to your need. Select the Outlook folder where you want to save your exported data and click Next. Select the given checkbox in the Import a file dialogue box and click Finish. You can also change your destination or map custom fields by clicking on the same name options The data from the “CSV file” would be imported to “MS Outlook.”

If you don't find that the manual method is suitable for you feeling yourself not too technically sound and fearing of error, you can opt for a professional tool. I have used the tool as I was not that much technically sound.Hope it helps.

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