Synchronizing Google Calendar with Mozilla Thunderbird using Lightning

Mail Program: Mozilla Thunderbird
Mozilla Add-ons: Mozilla Lightning, Provider for Google Calendar 0.25
Additional Add-ons: Google Calendar Tab 3.9

Synchronizing all my devices with mail, contacts, and calendar has been an exciting (yes, I may be masochistic) undertaking for the last few weeks, but I think everything is getting pretty powerful now.

My latest fun has been getting a proper program that can work with Google Calendar. Windows 8.1 for some silly reason wont allow synchronizing with many calendars, making it in my opinion utterly useless. Kind of forcing people to buy into their Office Online environment.

note: there is an Add-on called Google Calendar Tab that gives you the ability to connect directly to Google Calendar without having to use Mozilla Lightning Add-on. This works exactly the same as if you logged in via the web interface of Google Calendar, except within Mozilla Thunderbird. It’s really personal preference here, and it will be easier just to do this option. Google lets you synchronize/import/create many calendars within it’s service as well.

Enter Mozilla Lightning

Mozilla Lightning is the add-on for Mozilla Thunderbird that gives it calendar synchronizing, or calendar at all. In this regard, it becomes more powerful, if you ask me.

  • Tools -> Add-ons -> search: Lightening -> click Install

Once that’s added, you may just want to use it as is, without synchronizing with any other calendars. But, for me, the only way to go is to have a calendar on a cloud somewhere, and have all devices synchronized with it.

This is where Google Calendar comes in. It’s a brilliant calendar, tonnes of useful features, and you can synchronize with any kind (most) of device out there.

Synchronizing with Google Calendar | Mozilla Thunderbird

To synch with Google Calendar, another add-on is required: Provider for Google Calendar. At the time of writing this, it’s ver 0.25.

  • Tools -> Add-ons -> search: Provider for Google Calendar -> click Install

Connecting Lightening with Google Calendar requires that you get the Calendar private address from Google Calendar. To find this:

  • go to http://www.google.com/calendar
  • in the top right, click on settings -> calendar
    google calendar settings
  • select the Calendars tab, and select the calendar you wish you synchronize from the list just below
  • near the bottom, you’ll find a section called Private Address.
  • click on the XML link
    googlel calendar private address xml
  • this will open up a popup that you then want to right click on the link, and select copy link location (this will be long and have a whole bunch of random characters in it)

Now that we have the XML link to the Google Calendar, we need to give this to Mozilla Lightning, our desktop calendar. So, open the Mozilla Thunderbird and:

  • select File -> New -> Calendar
  • select On the Network and click Next¬†
    mozilla thunderbird new calendar network
  • select Google Calendar
  • in the Location: box, press ctrl+v (or right click paste) to paste your XML link from your Google Calendar
    mozilla thunderbird new calendar google link
  • click Next
  • the next screens will ask you to configure it as you desire. Leaving it default is ok.
  • Thunderbird/Lightning will ask you to enter in your password for Google to synchronize with the Calendar (since it’s private). Make sure you use your full email address and password, not just username (might not be necessary, but we’re safe here)

That’s it, you should now see your calendar setup in Mozilla Lightning!

You’ll notice in the top right of the Thunderbird window, you can click on a button that says switch to calendar tab. You’ll also notice there is a right sidebar widget area that has a constant events window up. Personally I don’t like this, and it can be turned off by either clicking on the Today Pane in the bottom right of the window, or by going to view -> today pane -> view today pane, toggling it off, or simply by pressing F11.

Advanced Tweaks | Mozilla Lightning

Being a nerd, I couldn’t stop just there. Two things I noticed.

  1. the default calendar was always “Home” calendar when creating new events.
  2. when opening Lightning (Thunderbird) after it had been closed down, by default my synchronized calendar was turned off (deselected)

Changing the default calendar in Mozilla Lightning

This must be done in the config editor. To open this:

  • tools -> options -> advanced tab -> general tab -> config editor (you’ll be asked to make sure you want to edit in here, select that you’ll be careful)
    mozilla thunderbird config editor
  • filter for: calendar.registry (you’ll notice there are different keys that are grouped in similar character strings except the final values (the different calendar values))
  • if you look for the .name value, it will show you which registry string sets belong to which calendar
  • most likely, your Home calendar .calendar-main-default is set to true. If you right click on this,¬†select toggle to turn it false
  • if there is a .calendar-main-default for the calendar you want to set as your default, then toggle that to true. If there isn’t, we need to create it. Right click on the .calendar-main-in-composite (or any other registry key for the email you want to set as default) and select copy name
  • right click again anywhere in the registry window, and select new -> boolean
  • paste the registry key name you just copied, and make sure to change .calendar-main-in-composite to .calendar-main-default
  • press OK
  • it will ask you to set the value to true
  • press OK

To ensure the changes have taken effect, close Thunderbird and open it back up again. Changes should be realized!

Turn on Calendar at Startup in Mozilla Lightning

I could have told you to change this when you were editing the registry above, but that may have confused things.

You need to go back into the registry (see first few steps above), and this time we’re going to add a new registry key with the extension .disabled on it.

  • right click on key of calendar you want to enable on startup
  • click copy name
  • right click in registry window and select new -> boolean
  • paste the copied registry name from above, but change ending extension to .disabled
  • set the default value to false
  • click ok

I’d recommend once again to close down Mozilla Thunderbird and opening it again and your calendar should be enabled by default!

Hope this helps make you a stronger computer!

Special thanks to the following blogs for help

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