Tuesday, June 16, 2009

How to change the default Lotus Notes display font size on a Mac

Aug 5, 2009 Lotus Notes 8.5 Update:
My company upgraded my computer to Lotus Notes 8.5 for the Mac. I am happy to report that changing the font size is much easier in 8.5 than in 7.0.

Look under the Lotus Notes Tab at the top of the screen and select Preferences and then Font.
Lotus Notes -> Preferences -> Font
Use the drop down menu to select "Normal", "Large Fonts" and "Extra Large Fonts". The default font size is "normal", but my eyes prefer "Extra Large". YMMV.

I still can't figure out how to change the icon sizes.
BTW, if you want to add a sender to your address book, you can no longer select "add sender to address book" from the actions menu. That option is now hidden under "more".
Actions -> More -> Add Sender to Contacts...
For Lotus Notes versions 6.X and 7.X, read on.
The last set of software patches for OS X 10.4 killed my IDL application, which I desperately need to complete a report due yesterday. A user forum where I lurk said the only stable fix is to upgrade to OS X 10.5 running XQuartz. All this should make your eyes glaze over.

Anyway, short story is that my computer was re-imaged; the slate--hard drive--was wiped clean and I started over. This means that I am using the latest versions of MS Office and Lotus Notes and IDL. I will have to write notes about all the bits and pieces that I had to change. Right now, I just want to write down how to change the Lotus Notes display font size for Notes 7.0 running on a Mac.

It shouldn't be so difficult to make such a simple change. But it is, and they have not fixed it. They've had years to get it right, but they failed. I am posting the instructions here so you won't have to go through the hassle I went through.

Search terms initially failed me because they sent me to obsolete pages dealing with Notes 6.5.

(There's an interesting story about how the Notes 6.5 preferences file for Mac is a binary file and IBM did not provide a way for users to edit the file. We had to download third party software to do that. I totally share this guy's pain. The link he provided is defunct. IBM released their own Mac preferences binary file editor for Notes 6.5 and you can find it here.)

Other web pages dealing with font sizes and Mac told users to edit the Notes.ini, a file which exists only on Windows machines. Even the IBM help pages were very unclear. They tell you exactly how to edit the Notes.ini files and what line to change. Then they also tell you that the Mac version does not use a Notes.ini file. Grrr!

Some say to look at the user's Library/Preferences directory for the Notes Preferences file and change to font size there. Well, there is no line in that file to change. You have to add the line and get the syntax exactly right.

This is what the IBM Lotus Notes forum has to say about this in response to a user's query:
From the client help db here are the instructions to change the fonts for people with bad eye-sight. This is a setting in the local notes.ini file that needs to be set. Best to play around with the number, to see what font size would be appropriate. Just remember that if you ever do a reinstall, or clear the notes.ini you'll have to re-add that line.

NOTES.INI is a configuration file, located in your Notes directory, which stores information about your personal Notes installation. If you need to use larger fonts at all times, close Notes, open your NOTES.INI file, and add the following setting as a new line anywhere in the file:

Here, n is the number of points added to the default size and is a number between 0 and 25. For example, if you want to increase the font size to 5, you would type:


Save your NOTES.INI file after you add the new font line, and then re-open Notes.
To which the user replies:
Unfortunately, I do not have that file on the mac. Is there an alternative way around this?
Follow the thread here.

The whole exchange makes my blood boil. Who are the people giving answers? Are they IBM employees or other users? If they are IBM employees, they need some serious training in customer service, tact and their own products. If they are not IBM employees, that doesn't make them look any better. Why don't they support their own product? Why do they leave customers to the slings and arrows of a volunteer user support group?

BTW, bad vision is not the sole reason you want to do this. The default font setting for Lotus Notes on a Mac is illegibly tiny for most monitors in use today. If you are displaying more than 800 pixels across and are not a fighter pilot, you will need to change the font size.

Here it is in full, gory detail. I am running Lotus Notes 7.0 on OS X 10.5.7. YMMV, but it will go something like this:

Unix command line:
Exit out of Lotus Notes
cd to

Notes Preferences

using your favorite text editor (vi, emacs, etc)
Add this line

Start Lotus Notes and check the display font size. Adjust the number up to make the font bigger, and down to make the font smaller. You will need to exit and restart Lotus Notes each time you adjust the font size.

OS X GUI users:
Close Lotus Notes.
Use Finder to go to
User -> Library -> Preferences

(There is another high level Library -> Preferences directory for all users. Do not mess with that right now.)
Double click on
Notes Preferences

The file will open in TextEdit.
Type this line somewhere in the file:

Restart Lotus Notes.
If necessary, repeat, adjusting the number up to make the font bigger and down to make it smaller. 4-5 seem like good settings for both my laptop screen and the Cinema display in my office.



    (IBM Sucks)

  2. Indeed, IBM could use a little bit more support for us Mac addicts..
    You've been of great help in solving the most painful problem I've had with Notes 6.5 on Mac as of today..

    Well, thank you very much for your post!