Thunder(bird) and Lightning! : Read and Write access to Google Calendar

By | 2007/07/10

First line: thanks to bordy for piecing this together.

Now on to the business at hand. Who uses Thunderbird? Ok, a large number of you. Who uses a calendaring system? Whoa, a lot of you ehh. Well how would you like to tie Thunderbird into Google Calendar with read and write access? Cool, keep reading. You’ll be setup in five minutes. It’s really pretty painless.

Getting the Plugins

Download the Lightning Addon for Mozilla Thunderbird

Download the Google Provider Addon for Mozilla Thunderbird (requires Thunderbird 2.x, see here)

Installing the Plugins

Open Thunderbird, navigate to “Tools” and select “Addons”. Drag-and-Drop the two files you just downloaded into the box. They will ask for installation confirmation, select Yes. When these are done you’ll need to restart Thunderbird. You will be prompted with a window to do so.

Visit Google Calendar

Before we can configure your new calendar in Thunderbird we’ll need to get just a bit of data from your Google Calendar account. Login to Google Calendar (I’m assuming you already have an account, if not you’ll want to set one up.. but that is outside the context of this tutorial.)

Navigate your way to “Settings” (top right).

Navigate to “Calendars” in the Calendar Settings area.

Navigate to the calendar you want to share (as you can have multiple calendars, we need to do one at a time)

Navigate to the “Private Address” and select the XML link via right-click. Select “Copy Link Location” in your Firefox browser.

Configure Lightning

Now that you have the link to your private Google Calendar address we can configure Lightning to use it. Go back to Thunderbird now and select “New” in the Calendar tab of Lightning (bottom right, third tab).

Select “On the Network” for the location of your calendar system.

Select “Google Calendar” on the next prompt. If you don’t see a Google Calendar option you’ll want to verify that the Google Provider Addon was installed properly.

Paste the link we copied from Google Calendar (the XML we copied just in the section previous) into the “Location” box.

The next step will ask for a calendar name and color. I’ll leave that part up to you. ๐Ÿ™‚

The last step is providing Lightning / Thunderbird with your Google Calendar username and password for Google Calendar. The username should have been auto-harvested from the link you pasted, but the password will be needed.

Using Your Calendar

At this point you should be able to create appointments within Lightning and they’ll very quickly propogate to Google Calendar. To get started select the Calendar tab within Lightning, right-click on a date and time and select New. I’m sure you can take it from here.. Enjoy.

(some of these steps taken from here.)

19 thoughts on “Thunder(bird) and Lightning! : Read and Write access to Google Calendar

  1. Chris Rohde

    I found that the auto-harvesting of the google account name didn’t work for me, it harvested something crazy from the calendar file and to get it to work I had to go in and actually put in my google account info myself.

    Other than that, sweeeet.

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  3. pcybill

    Error message here;

    Provider for Google Calendar 0.2.1 could not be installed because it is not compatible with Thunderbird, (Provider for Google Calendar 0.2.1 will only work with Thunderbird versions from 2.0a1 to 3.0a1

    Any suggestions? this would be a really helpful extension for me here.



  4. Joe A

    Thanks! Previously I had been using Sunbird to do the same, but I stopped using that just because it was another program to open, and I just stopped using a calendar all together ๐Ÿ™‚ this will make things much easier.

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  7. mlissner

    This is good, but I tried exporting the items from my old calendar into the new one, and it didn’t work entirely: When it imported, the information about calendar item repetition didn’t import.

    Any ideas on this one? It’s a showstopper for me if I can’t import that part of events because I just have too many to go around messing them up…

  8. mlissner


    Do changes made online to the google calendar eventually make their way into lightning? Or do changes only flow in one direction?

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  13. marius

    Doesn’t work in 64 bit version.

  14. Marnie

    This new plugin combination doesn’t really work for the end-product I’m looking for: the ability to print multiple months of my google calendar. I could do it by clicking the link in my google calendar online XML link and it would pull up the calendar in Outlook. From there I could print multiple months of the calendar (unlike the silly options for printing online at GCal). But I figured Thunderbird and Lightning would help this. No WORKY. It freezes up on print commands. Woo. ๐Ÿ™

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  16. Venkat

    Thanks for the article. It really saved a lot of time for me.

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