Friday, June 3, 2011

Setting up Thunderbird and Adding Google Calendar Sync

I am trying to slowly move away from Windows one program at a time.  So recently I realized that it was an inconvenience checking my school email and my Google email separately on their respective websites, as opposed to using Microsoft Outlook 2010 to keep my folders and calendar organized.  Luckily, Thunderbird (alternatively, Sunbird for just a calendar) is up to the task of handling my email and calendar needs.  Well, most of them anyway.

Things you will need before we get started:
Thunderbird from Software Manager.
xul-ext-lightning from Software Manager.
Google Account
Provider for Google Calendar - Thunderbird Extension

Once we have those things load up Thunderbird from your main menu.  You'll be prompted to enter some basic information about the email address you want to set up.  We'll enter a display name, our google account, and the password we provided.

Thunderbird Email Client Setup

With Gmail, Thunderbird will find the settings automatically and start downloading your email as soon as you hit create an account.  This will leave you with something that looks like this:

Mozilla Thunderbird in Linux

Now, I also need to add my school email address which is a little more difficult because it is an Outlook Exchange 2007 Server and Thunderbird can't quite figure out the settings by default.  So first we need to add another account by going to Edit -> Account Settings.  Go down to Account Actions toward the bottom left corner of this screen and click on "Add Mail Account."

You will now go through the same process of setting up the Gmail account, if it fails you will be asked to enter the correct ports and incoming POP3/IMAP and outgoing SMTP URLs and should see the screen below:

Failed Thunderbird Setup

Now that both of my accounts have been set up, I need to get everything a little more organized.  To sync the folders for my IMAP address, if they're not doing it already, right click on the name in the left window and select "Subscribe" and you should see your folders from your exchange server like so:

IMAP Thunderbird Subscribe

This will now filter your emails into the appropriate categories and restore your folders.  You'll also have two separate listings for your email accounts so that your emails do not get mixed up.

Now, we need to set up Google Calendar.  First we need to install the extension Provider for Google Calendar.  To do this, download it and then go to Tools -> -> Add-Ons -> Install and then navigate to the file (or search for it in Get Add-Ons).  Restart Thunderbird and go to Events and Tasks -> Calendar (or use the Thunderbird hotkey Shift+CTRL+C).

Google Calendar in Linux using Mozilla Thunderbird

So this is the basic calendar, but now we need to add our Google Calendars from their website.  Log in using your favorite browser and on the left side of the page you should see ~4 calendars listed by default.  We'll use US Holidays as the sample, but you can set up as many calendars as you want.  You just repeat this process for each calendar you want to add to Thunderbird.

Select the arrow to the right of US Holidays and then select Calendar Settings.

Google Calendar Settings

From here we want to click on the button "XML" and copy the address that pops up for the next part where we set up this Calendar.

Google Calendar XML Location

Return to Thunderbird and right clicking on the bottom left window anywhere below "Calendar" and select New Calendar -> On the Network.  Select Google Calendar and paste the link we copied from above into the location.  Enter your Google account information and then pick a name and color for this calendar.

Google Calendar Setup in Thunderbird

If you want to do this for your private calendar (, just use the private XML file and Thunderbird will be able to post changes to it.  They will appear on your Google calendar account and any device capable of receiving it such as a mobile phone.

Now all you have to do is test it.  I tested it from my Droid X -> Thunderbird and Thunderbird -> Droid X just to make sure I could get calendar notices going both ways.  It took probably 5-10 minutes for them to appear for me.

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