Installation and configuration

  1. If needed, download, install and run Thunderbird
  2. To add and account...
    1. If a new installation, Thunderbird normally launches a "Welcome to Thunderbird" wizard which will let you set up an account right away. Choose the "Skip this and use my existing email" option.
    2. If the "1st time" wizard doesn't begin, click File > New > Existing Mail Account. (If you do not see menus, press the Alt key.)
    3. If you already have other accounts set up in Thunderbird, you can alternatively right-click the top level of any of these accounts in the left pane and choose "Settings". Then, using the "Account Actions" list (bottom left of "Account Settings" windows, choose "Add Mail Account..."
  3. Fill in your name, email address and password, leaving the "Remember password" option checked. Click Continue.
  4. Cool! Thunderbird discovers that your account is on Google and automatically configures all your settings perfectly, defaulting to using an IMAP connection (recommended).
    1. By default, Thunderbird will select the OAuth authentication method. This is secure and Google-approved. If you change this setting to "Normai Password", you will need log into your Google account online and enable the "allow less secure apps" setting.
    2. (Not recommended by SIL Google Admin) If you find yourself in the field with a terribly slow and/or unstable internet connection, you may choose to switch to POP3. Choose Done.
  5. Your default browser will open and prompt you to enter your Google Apps password. Google will then ask you to confirm if Thunderbird can "View and manage your email". Select Allow.
  6. All done.

Folder subscriptions

Thunderbird will download online folders for this account. By default, Thunderbird does NOT subscribe (synchronize) the following online folders:

  • All Mail
  • Important
  • Starred

While you may elect to subscribe to the last two folders, it is highly recommended that you do NOT subscribe (sync) the All Mail folder for efficiency/performance reasons.

"Leave mail on server" (when using POP3)

With Google Mail, the client option to "POP and Leave On Server" does not work so you have to use "recent mode". IMAP is preferred and recommended over Recent Mode where possible.

OAuth2 - a new IMAP authentication option

Google began using the OAuth 2.0 protocol for authentication earlier in 2016. As a result, most email clients began being blocked when sending clear-text credentials. The client simply continued to prompt for correct credentials, even though the original credentials worked fine when logging in online. For other email clients, the only option was to enable the Google option for "All less secure apps" option.

While this would work for Thunderbird as well, there is a better/easier option if you use an IMAP connection. Thunderbird now offers OAuth2 as an option in the Authentication method dropdown list for both receiving (IMAP only) and sending (SMTP).

  • Receiving: Account Settings -> <account> -> Server Settings. Make the change in Authentication method
  • Sending: Account Settings -> Outgoing Server (SMTP) -> <account> -> Edit . Make the change in Authentication method
  • Click OK and then OK again

Note: OAuth2 is not an option for POP3 connections.

Calendar Synchronization Instructions

You must be on-line for the next steps to work.

NOTE: These instructions were developed using Thunderbird Version 37. Thunderbird issues updates on a regular basis so the version numbers in this document may not be exactly the same as what you see when installing Lightning and Provider for Google Calendar.

Install Lightning and Provider for Google Calendar Add-Ons

If you do not already have the Lightning add-on installed for Thunderbird, follow the instructions below to add it:

  1. Click Tools and then Add-ons.
  2. Click Get Add-ons in the menu on the left panel.
  3. Normally, Lightning will appear on the screen under Thunderbird Collection, but do not click there.
  4. Instead, type Lightning in the search box in the upper right corner of the window and then press the Enter key to find it.
    • You do not want the Lightning Nightly Updater, which is for beta testers who can deal with instability and bugs.
    • If you do not see Lightning, you may need to click the "See all results"
  5. Click on the latest version of Lightning and then click Install (or Add).
  6. When prompted, restart Thunderbird to complete the installation of Lightning.

Install the Provider for Google Calendar add-on

  1. Click Tools and then click Add-ons.
  2. Click Get Add-ons in the menu on the left panel.
  3. Type Provider for Google Calendar in the search box in the upper right corner of the window and then press the Enter key to find it.
  4. Click on Provider for Google Calendar and then click Install.
  5. When prompted, restart Thunderbird to complete the installation of Provider for Google Calendar.

Configuring Thunderbird for Google Calendar

  1. Open Thunderbird. Click Events and Tasks > Calendar.
  2. Right click in a blank area under the list of calendars on the left side of the Calendar interface and then select New calendar.
  3. Select On the Network and then click Next.
  4. For format, select Google Calendar and then click Next.
  5. Enter your full email address in the blank below the text Please pick an existing session or enter your email address to create a new session. You only need one session per account. Click Next.
  6. Your browser will open and prompt you to sign in with your email address and password. Click Sign in.
  7. Click the blue Accept button to allow Provider for Google Calendar to use your information in Thunderbird.
  8. Under Please select the calendars and task lists you would like to subscribe to, select the check boxes for your individual calendar and any others you would like displayed in Thunderbird. Click Next.
  9. Click Finish.