How to Add a Calendar to Mozilla Thunderbird

October 19, 2010, By Christian Cawley

Mozilla’s Thunderbird is a superb example of free software. Serving one of the basic needs of internet users – email – the latest version can connect to a variety of different email account types almost without any interaction from the user.

With folder management and the ability to use Thunderbird as a newsreader and RSS reader, the only really important feature missing is a calendar!

Mozilla have already created a calendar application called Sunbird, but with the Lightning extension for Thunderbird, you can expand the possibilities of your open source email application and use it as a realistic replacement for Microsoft Outlook!

Finding the Lightning Calendar Extension for Thunderbird

Like Mozilla’s Firefox browser, you can install various enhancements to Thunderbird, and as with Firefox, these are called “extensions”. With such extensions installed as part of Thunderbird you can do interesting new things with your email client, such as add an email client, block spam emails and of course, add a calendar.

You can add Lightning to Thunderbird via the web and the Add-ons manager in Thunderbird.

Browse to addons.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/extensions and search for “lightning”. In the returned results, select the download button. Once completed, this downloaded extension can be installed on Thunderbird by going to Tools > Add-ons > Extensions > Install…. Here you need to just browse for the downloaded extension file (named something like lightning-[version]-win.xpi) and follow the on-screen instructions to complete the addition of this Add-on.

Using Lightning Calendar for Thunderbird

With Lightning installed, you can then begin to use it as a calendar and event management tool.

In Thunderbird, the Lightning calendar will be available via the Events and Tasks menu item. With it, you can create appointments, manage tasks and generally get organised!

To create a new calendar appointment, go to Events and Tasks > New Event or simply double-click in the appropriate day in your calendar.

In the New Event window, give the event a name, specify a location and assign a category. You should also specify the start and end times for the event, as well as if you require a reminder before the event occurs. Finally, you can enter a description for the event.

With these details entered, either Save and Close the event to add it to the calendar, or first Invite Attendees. Returning to Thunderbird, you will notice the event listed in the right-hand Events column (if you have it active.)

Creating a Task can be done in pretty much the same way – simply use the Events and Tasks > New Task tool.

Importing, Exporting and Publishing Calendars

There are different ways in which you can share calendars with the Lightning extension for Thunderbird.

Again accessed via the Events and Tasks menu, you can export, import and publish calendar files. Let’s take a look at each in turn:

Export – use this option to create an export file with your calendar events in. This can be in .ICS (iCalendar), .CSV (Comma Separated Value) or .HTML (web) format.

Import – using this menu option you can import calendar files from other software in .ICS (iCalendar), .CSV (Comma Separated Value) format.

Publish – this option can be used to publish your calendar to an online or network location, allowing colleagues and friends to access it.

Lightning is a powerful addition to Thunderbird that should not be missed!

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