Winmail.dat file issue in Lotus Notes workaround (finally)

Lotus Notes LogoFrom the timestamps I see that this gem has been available since June of 2006 but I certainly had not heard about it.

Microsoft (M$), always there with useful products, also always manages to make things *just* different enough from standard that you can’t really seem to call them on it but they make it impossible to cleanly interface with their products as a competitor.

Case in point is Outlook and Exchange. If you create a message using M$’s email client and send it out the door using their Rich Text Format which seems to be of a proprietary nature, the message that arrives at the other end will be wrapped up in a file called “Winmail.Dat”.

For Lotus Notes this has always been a problem since the Domino server does not have the ability to unravel this proprietary formatting and so the recipient ends up with a useless (winmail.dat )attachment.

I know that there have been some fairly sophisticated attempts at providing solutions but the recipients of these messages are often business users with better things to do than try to master the arcane world of command line utilities with multistep processes.

Until now all we could really tell our users was to contact the sender and have them re-send the message but ensuring that they send with “Plain Text” instead of “RTF”. This is understandably awkward for a business user trying to look professional and it wasn’t doing my ego any wonders either.

The only really practical solution, besides Lotus actually dealing with the issue and including it in their SMTP router is this one presented to me by a co-worker (thanks Anton!). Created by Julian Robichaux (as far as I can tell as his name is all over the database) it is a simple mail-in database that you set up in your Domino environment. Your internal (and external if you wish to help out the rest of the world) Users then forward these nuisance messages to it and it replies back with the “unraveled” files.

So again the link is to Project WinmailExtractor. I had it set up and running in about 15 minutes including inspecting the code for any weirdness.

5 thoughts on “Winmail.dat file issue in Lotus Notes workaround (finally)”

  1. Hi Marc,

    You might have missed this at the time that you wrote this posting (it’s easy to do)… but IBM HAS written something that processes winmail.bat files.

    It has been available in Domino 6.5.6, 7.0.2 and 8.0+

    I thought this might be worth mentioning because I had a customer thinking of following the approach you mentioned, but enabling this feature on Domino is a much simpler approach. If anybody’s interested, the information is available here:

    Lotus Software Knowledge Base Document

    Title: Attachments to messages received from the Internet are named as winmail.dat
    Doc #: 1093342

  2. Thanks Anthony, I’ll have to keep this in mind. Looks like it still needs some work though. That same article indicates that setting the INI parm also causes crashes with some versions of Domino.

    But still a step forward for a problem that’s been a thorn in my side since at least version 4.6 of domino…

  3. I have run into this and similar issues a number of times with/without attachments and sometimes other recommendations work re: plain text format. However, a couple times it didn’t resolve the issue and I found another fix on the Outlook client end. Always the person received a winmail.dat file and oddly this was only from one person in my exchange organization to one person in a Domino organization.

    The issue turned out to do with the cached addresses of previously sent emails. So I opened a new email and started typing the recipient’s name so the cached entry would come up. As it started to prompt for the address I then clicked the ‘x’ to delete the cached entry (Outlook 2007/2010 and Ctrl+Del in <=2003) and then manually re-typed the address and hit send. Voila, message received in entirety with all attachments accessible and no winmail.dat file!

  4. Great tip on the Winmail Extractor project. Our organization started receiving those dreadful winmail.dat attachments instead of the proper ones and that database works like a charm.

    Thank you.

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