Thunderbird/Outlook/Google Calendar Integration

Finally I can have events from my Outlook calendar in work sync with my Thunderbird calendar (enabled using the Lightning plugin) automatically. It’s wonderful… or at least it nearly is.

How It Works

I read some time back of a plugin that allows you to sync your Thunderbird/Lightning calendar (or Sunbird if you prefer to use Mozilla’s calendar in a standalone application) with your Google calendar, which I’m sure is useful for some people, but not me. I’ve never used a Google calendar really. However that memory proved useful when I heard that a Google have released a utility to allow you to sync your Google calendar with your Outlook calendar. I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this…

If Google calendar can sync with Outlook and can also sync with Thunderbird/Lightning Surely it would be possible to sync your Thunderbird/Lightning calendar with Outlook via Google. For once, I was delighted to find out that it works just like you’d expect. Download Google’s little sync tool and it does everything very intuitively. Next, on your home PC the one with the Thunderbird calendar) you’ll need to download and install the Provider for Google Calendar Thunderbird add-on. You’ll need to share your Google Calendar (login and go to Settings then Calendar. Choose your calendar name and get the “Private Address” for the XML feed (copy it to the clipboard).

Back to Thunderbird go to File -> New Calendar. Select “on the network” and if you’ve installed the Provider plug-in properly there should be an option for Google Calendar. Choose this and then paste the URL of your Calendar’s XML into the Location field. That’s pretty much it (just name the calendar). Everything should sync up automatically from that point. Wonderful! If you’ve done something wrong, there are more detailed instructions available.

How It Doesn’t Work

Sadly it’s not that wonderful. You see, Google Calendar doesn’t support tasks, only events. So you can get reminders about upcoming events, but you can’t create tasks. Of course you can cheat and create events instead of tasks, but one problem with this is that you can’t mark events as “completed”. Since I’m only a low-level minion at work, most of my use for Outlook (besides email) is to remind me of what tasks I need to do, not meetings I need to go to. There is a petition to have tasks added to Google calendar and it seems there are plans to include them, but were not there yet. When they are though, hopefully the provider for Lightning will be updated and this ability to sync via Google will be really very useful indeed.

Author: nerd.

An experienced IT professional, I used to run a number of small websites and spend a lot of time tinkering with my sites or my PC - back when I had free time.

4 thoughts on “Thunderbird/Outlook/Google Calendar Integration”

  1. thanks a lot for this tip. exactly what I needed. I tested gmail in its infancy when it couldnt do POP or SMTP or IMAP, then they released POP support and I was really disappointed because I still wanted to use thunderbird as main client with ability to use web interface when I was travelling. Now they have IMAP with SSL/TLS and Calender syncing with my work laptop and my home Ubuntu setup and web calender when travelling without laptop. It just gets better and better!

    Don’t fully trust Google to always keep my mail forever, so it’s imperative that I can still use a local client.

  2. This should be great, but without Google supporting tasks/ToDo, it’s nearly worthless for me. 🙁

    Has anyone managed to come up with another way that will do the job?

  3. Google has just released tasks for calendar. Hopefully the provider plug-in task component is soon to follow

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