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thunderbirdlogo.pngToday I started using the desktop email client Mozilla Thunderbird again.  Gmail is an excellent email application but if I am out and about with my netbook and I have difficulty finding a wireless connection, then the ability to download all my emails beforehand to Thunderbird is a lifesaver.

Synchronizing your Gmail email messages with Thunderbird is a breeze by using IMAP.   Every change you make in Thunderbird is more or less instantly reflected in your online email account.

But what about your Gmail contact book, your Google calendar and Google Reader RSS feeds?    Although Thunderbird offers their own versions, I wanted it instead to synchronize with my Google accounts and keep everything updated as I made changes.    The thought of having two versions, one in Thunderbird and one online, was not very appealing.

Here’s how I finally managed to do it.

Synchronize Your Google Contacts With Thunderbird :

This can be achieved by using an extension called Zindus.   Just install the extension and after restarting Thunderbird, go into the options :

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zindus

It’s very easy to set up. Just insert your Google account name and password.   Then click the “test connection” button and it will connect to your Google account.    Your contact book will then be downloaded and any further changes in Thunderbird will also be synchronized with your online account.

Synchronize Your Google Calendar With Thunderbird

This one has already been covered by Tina How To: Integrate Google Calendar Into Thunderbird How To: Integrate Google Calendar Into Thunderbird Read More (which is the guide I used) but here’s still a quick summary.   You need two extensions – Lightning and Provider For Google Calendar.   When you install them and restart, you’ll then see your calendar on the right hand side.

thunderbirdcalendar

To start the synchronization, find the XML link of your Google Calendar (found under the settings on your GCal page), insert it into the Thunderbird calendar settings, and bingo, your events are downloaded and synchronized.

To get the full, in-depth process, read Tina’s excellent how-to How To: Integrate Google Calendar Into Thunderbird How To: Integrate Google Calendar Into Thunderbird Read More .

Synchronize Your Google Reader With Thunderbird

This was the biggie as far as I was concerned.   With over 2000 unread RSS messages, I wanted to be able to browse through the feeds and have it instantly updated online.   I didn’t want to read them in Thunderbird but for them still to be sitting unread online.   That would have led to chaos.    Finally I discovered one possible solution.

Basically what the following method does is install a mini browser in your Thunderbird.   So technically you are still reading them online but inside your Thunderbird client instead.   So it’s not an offline synchronization solution which is what I am really looking for.   But for the moment this will do until I find a better method.

  • First download Thunderbrowse and CSLite and install them in Thunderbird.
  • Now go into your Thunderbird options and on the ‘General‘ tab, make sure the box labelled When Thunderbird launches, show the Start Page in the message area is checked, and in the location field, enter the URL http://www.google.com/reader/i/.
  • Now go into your Thunderbrowse options. On the ‘Content‘ tab, check the option Enable SmartJavascript?, and click OK.
  • Open the preferences for the CS Lite extension, and on the ‘Global‘ tab, select Allow cookies globally from the drop-down box.
  • Now restart Thunderbird.   You should now see Google Reader in the main browser pane.   Log in and your feeds will appear.
  • One piece of advice – place the Thunderbrowse button on your Thunderbird toolbar.  Then when you need to navigate away from the window to read your emails, you can click the Thunderbrowse button to go back again.

Do you have any better solutions to synchronize your Google accounts with Thunderbird? If so, I would love to hear about them. Let everyone know in the comments.

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