Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How to Create an Auto-Response Mail Message in Lotus Notes 8.5.3+

Why would you do this?
Suppose that you have an externally accessible generic email address for your company; or

You might expose this to the web and allow people to send messages to you.

Setting up an auto-response email will tell the senders that their message reached its destination and that it will be dealt with accordingly.  It's also good practice to include links to FAQs or other useful information.

Why 8.5.3
The techniques we'll be using here work in older versions of Notes but some of the options seem to have moved around in 8.5.3.  I figured it was a good time to show you where they've moved to.

The Procedure

Start Domino Designer and open the Mail file to be modified.  A really quick way to do this is to right-click on the application tab and choose "Open in Designer".

In the Left hand panel of designer, expand Code and then double-click Agents.  A new window should appear.

Click the action button marked New Agent (at the top of the screen).

Give the Agent a Name, Alias and Comment;

Name: AutoResponder
Alias: AutoResponder
Comment: Sends an automatic response to any inbound emails sent to this address

Change the type to Simple Actions
Leave the Application field as is and click Ok.

In the left panel, click Document Selection.
At the bottom of the screen, you'll see an Add Condition button.
Click it.
Choose In Folder and then Select the Inbox.
Click Add

In the left panel, click Action
At the bottom of the screen, you'll see an Add Action button.
Click it.
Choose Reply to Sender
Make sure that it says Send Reply to Sender Only.
Tick Reply only once per person
Type your message
Click Add

So far so good.  Now to get this to occur for all new mail.

This is where I got stuck.
It makes perfect sense to have these agent properties at the bottom of the page, like they are for lotusscript agents but for some reason, they're not there in 8.5.3. A big thanks to Tony G for finding the missing menu option.

Right mouse click anywhere in the right hand panel and choose Agent Properties.

In the trigger section, choose On Event and Select After New Mail has Arrived.
You can now save and close your agent.

Note: In our tests it took 5-10 minutes for the agent to actually start working so don't despair if it looks like it doesn't appear to be working initially.   To test, send emails from an outside account, like Gmail and wait for the reply message.


Dragon Cotterill said...

Which is all well and good... until the spammers get hold of your inbound email address. Then welcome to a world of hurt.

grunz said...

This will probably work quite well most of the times, but if the external sender of the mail to which your agent responds to also happens to have some kind of auto-responder running, you will end up with a really ugly mail-loop that might kill your server!

Anonymous said...

Before to start this kind of work, have a look to this :

Anonymous said...

It's set to "Reply Once per Person", so, there's no loop.

Karthik said...

Auto reply simple action agent shows me "ERROR: Agent cannot run. Database is not full text indexed and INI variable FT_FLY_INDEX_OFF is set."
How to resolve this...pls help!! Thanks

Anonymous said...

I have done the above but for some reason it is not auto-replying. I have created the agent from a Task ID and not from my original mail inbox. Any ideas where it has gone wrong ? Thanks

Anonymous said...

What step are you missing?

Every time I follow this guide, I receive the error 'This application is not open'

Major bug in notes I know, but please include the first step


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the very concise instructions. I set this up on a mail-in database, and it worked great, with one small issue. The "From" line of the auto-response email contains my email address, rather than the email address associate with the mail-in database, or the owner of the mail-in database. Is there a way to get the agent to use the email address of the mail-in database in the "From" line?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

Gavin Bollard said...

Anonymous, You'll find on the key tab there's a security option which says run on behalf of...

You need to select the appropriate user.

Anonymous said...

This is the type of agent we need but we need it notify people once a day. So if Joe sends in 10 emails a day, he only get 1 reply each day. To do this, I think I just need to stop and start the agent once a day.

Question is, does anyone have the code to stop and start and agent ?

Anonymous said...

You need to have a userid created for that server to allow the agent to run, otherwise it will not work.

Aaron Paxson said...

Worked great for me. I've always wondered how to create a "Simple Agent" without needing alot of LotusScript. Good writeup. Simple and concise. Thanks.

Yolanda said...

How do you exclude IBMers within this agent? Also how does this affect you when you're out of office? Will a responder get two messages - 1 out of office and 1 auto response? Thanks

Gavin Bollard said...


This agent is really designed for group mailboxes (eg: or rather than personal email boxes.

For example, people might send to and the responder could let them know that their email has been received and will be replied to shortly.

You'll also need to have an anti-spam front end (we filter all our mail via Symantec's cloud service). This prevents mail loops.

The responder is also good for short term use, eg: if someone posts a scam on the internet about your company (eg: Email us your details and we'll send you free products), you can add the responder for a short time, to the affected email address. (Instead of replying to each mail that this is a scam).

If you want to handle proper out of office event and exclusions, then you should either use the real out of office system or write a lotusscript agent which can do a lot more validation.

Aaron R. Hymas said...

Thanks for this info. That worked great!

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Pamm MacRae said...

Hi, I am also interested in being able to exclude email from IBMers. I work for a group that allowed for customers to email us directly and that has changed so that they need to open a support ticket through Parature.... yet the emails still come in despite a notice. I use a faux auto reply, but this is time consuming. Help!

Pamm MacRae said...

I too am interested in finding a way to set up an auto respond to anyone that is not an IBMer.
Thank you

Anett said...

I try to create the agent in a Team mailbox I get the following error
Unable to determine the execution access priviliges for agent Autorespond/Autorespond on home server of user my user mail; agent may not run

Anett said...

Unable to determine the execution access priviliges for agent Autorespond/Autorespond on home server of user my user mail; agent may not run

Anett said...

Unable to determine the execution access priviliges for agent Autorespond/Autorespond on home server of user my user mail; agent may not run

Jeff said...

My Notes mailbox has different alias addresses. I currently have an agent that sends an auto-reply to the sender, regardless as to which alias they used to contact the mailbox. My question is: can I set this up such that the mailbox sends a different auto-reply based on the alias used by the sender? For example, if we the mailbox has these two addresses/aliases:

Can I have the mailbox send "autoreply-1" to anyone who contacted it using the BetaTesting alias, and "autoreply-2" to anyone who contacted it using the AlphaTesting alias?