Bi-directional Sync between Thunderbird/Lightning and Google Calendar — Now with free tips a tricks :-)
Who hasn’t been looking for a long time for a rock solid calendaring system, accessible both at home, work and when traveling ?
When Google Calendar appeared, it looked very promising… with tools like GooSync, you could sync your Google Calendar with your mobile phone/PDA, but not yet to your desktop client (Thunderbird/Lightning) to do your email / organisation…
Queue Lightning, the calendaring extension for Thunderbird which brings the desktop email application one1 step closer to becoming a viable alternative to Microsoft Outlook.
- Download the latest version of the Lightning calendaring add-on from https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/addon/2313 and save it to your desktop.
- Open Thunderbird, and go to Tools > Add-Ons
- Drag-and-drop the .xpi file you just downloaded onto the new Add-On window to install the plugin.
- Once you have installed the Lightning Extension, Thunderbird will ask you to restart. Do So (!). Upon restarting you will be greeted with a new Sidebar:
This is all well and good and provides us with an easy to use local calendar, but that’s not much use if you wanted to update it at work, or on the road from a mobile device. This is where the Google Calendar Provider Add-on comes in to play.
The Google Calendar Provider allows bidirectional syncing between the Lightning Calendaring Extension in Thunderbird and Google’s GCal Service ! This is possible because Google, being the lovely chaps that they are, decided to opt for the iCalendar standard in GCal.
Installation of the GCal Provider add-on is similar to that of Lightning. Again, go to the Add-ons Window and Install the XPI available for download from the Google Calendar Provider page. Once installed, don’t forget to restart Thunderbird.
The last step is to tie our Google Calendar into our Lightning.
First of all, you will need to log into your Google Calendar account. Once you are at the main page, click on “Settings” from the Top Right Menu:
Once on the settings page, you need to drill down into the “Calendars Settings” screen and then click on your Calendar from the list (I only had a single calendar.)
Finally, need copy the URL of your Private Address ICAL Feed into the clipboard.
When you hover over the ICAL button, you will see the URL. It looks somethings like this:
You’re done in Google Calendar for now and we can head back to Thunderbird to finally wrap this tutorial up ;). Once you are back in Thunderbird, you need to create a new calendar in Lightning.
- Click on the Calendar Tab at the bottom-left corner of your screen to switch to the Lightning Calendar view and choose menu File > New > Calendar.
- Another window will appear. The first option is the location of your Calendar – select “On the Network” and click Next.
- Select the “Google Calendar” as the format
(if you don’t have a Google Calendar radio button, make sure your GCal Provider is installed).
- In the location input box, paste in your Google Calendar Private Address ICAL url you copied, and click Next.
- The next window asks you to give your new Calendar a Name and a Colour, I will leave these entirely up to you 😉
- After a confirmation message, you can finally hit the Finish button, causing a “Google Calendar Login” window to pop-up, asking for your Google Account login. It will have automagically extracted your username from the XML feed you just specified, so just key in your password.
Well done, you can now enjoy the many benefits of being able to view and update your Google Calendar directly from Thunderbird – nice work 😉
Tips & Tricks
- Follow the identical same steps for other calendars in your Google Calendar; not only additional agenda’s you created in your own Google profile, but also e.g. you’re wife’s calendar or public Holiday calendars…
(e.g. Belgium Holidays: http://www.google.com/calendar/ical/0cjncojrlf870gbikgbhslb7rg%40group.calendar.google.com/public/basic.ics )
- If you add other agenda’s which are “for info only”, make sure to tick the “read-only” flag in the settings, it speeds up the sync dramatically.
- I like keeping the colours of my Google Calendar agenda the same as the one in Lightning. (Less confusing :o) )
- Do check out the Lightning preferences from Tools > Options > Lightning ! There are many interesting settings to change:
- start of the weekday (why oh why does it default to Sunday ???)
- start time of the day (I’ve set it to 11:30 :o) )
- Select wether or not to show weekend days
- number of “hours at a time” to show: this is an interesting one. If you have a smaller screen, it actually helps you getting more info on the screen if you increase the default value of 12, the “boxes” representing hours will shrink a bit…
- Try to Print the calendar :o)