Google and Zimbra contact sync for Thunderbird

  1. What is synchronized?
  2. What isn’t synchronized?
  3. Contact conversion
  4. Thunderbird and Google Addressbook differences
    1. No empty contacts
    2. When rules break

Also see the FAQ for thunderbird contact sync.

more info

What is synchronized?

Thunderbird’s “Personal Address Book” syncs with Google Contacts.

sync google contacts withOr you can sync Google Contacts with a Thunderbird addressbook named after your Google email address.

What isn’t synchronized?

Zindus doesn’t sync Thunderbird mailing lists. Lists and the contacts in them are ignored. This feature is on the roadmap.

Contact conversion

Thunderbird and Google don’t support exactly the same set of contact fields.

Here is the list of Google contact fields that map to Thunderbird:

  • Full Name
  • Primary Email address and Second Email address
  • Phone Numbers: Home, Work, Work Fax, Pager, Mobile
  • Instant Messaging (AIM)
  • Company and Title
  • Notes

Postal addresses fields aren’t synced by default because of differences in field formats, but there is a workaround.  See the blog post on Google and Thunderbird postal addresses.

Where Google supports multiple values for a contact field, Zindus syncs the first of those with Thunderbird. So if a Google contact has two mobile phone numbers, only the first of those numbers is synced with Thunderbird.

Where a contact on one side of the sync has fields not supported by the other, Zindus tries to preserve the unsupported fields during an update by merging the updated contact into the overwritten contact.

Thunderbird and Google Addressbook differences

No empty contacts

Without ever noticing it, you may find that you have contacts in your Thunderbird address book that don’t have an email address but do have data in some of the other fields, such as FirstName or LastName. If none of the Thunderbird contact fields map to Google contact fields, then as far as Google is concerned, it’s an empty contact, which Google doesn’t allow.

Thunderbird contacts of this sort can’t be synced. Your options are:

  • edit the contact to add a Display Name or email address (even a fake one would be ok)
  • move the contact into a different Addressbook so that it isn’t synced with Google

It’s also possible for a Google contact with no email address or Display Name to map to a completely empty Thunderbird contact.  Contacts of this sort aren’t synced with Thunderbird.  If you want such contacts to sync, give them an email address or Display Name.

When rules break

The Thunderbird address book that is synced with Google must comply with Google’s rules.  If it doesn’t, the addon will help you fix it, see:

The Google Thunderbird address book: staying in sync

Leave a comment