iPhone, Thunderbird and Google Sync

I recently acquired an iPhone. As any stubborn tech maniac, I cannot live without a proper synchronization between my Mails, Contacts, and Agenda. I can't figure out any decent reason to have an iPhone if these cannot be achieved.

Hopefully, there's a lot of zealous people on the net that share my mental disorder. Thanks to them, let's see how I managed synchronization between Thunderbird/Lightning - Google Mail/Agenda - iPhone. It'll not cover Mail synchronization as this is a quite simple and common pattern.

This applies to any system (Linux, Windows, Macintosh) as Thunderbird and Google web services are OS agnostic.


Google Account will be our central exchange platform. So go get an account if you haven't one yet.

Thunderbird sync with Google

Contact synchronization

Install Zindus extension in Thunderbird. This extension manage synchronisation towards any number of Google or Zimbra accounts.

Configuration can be a bit tricky, in the extension configuration panel:

  1. Enter your Google Account credentials, and check them with the test button.
  2. Then you should check the advanced google settings to ask for XML output
  3. Ask for your first synchronisation

Sanity check: Look at your Contact Book on Thunderbird before and after synchronization (same for GMail). If you feel like you should clean that mess, check my other blog post on cleaning contact list.


Note that Agenda support in Thunderbird is brought by the Lightning extension. Which you should have installed prior to what's following.

Notice that Lightning and Google can be synchronized out-of-the box, no new extension here:

  1. Get in your google account preferences and check your XML private address to the agenda you want to sync
  2. Use this XML address as a New Network Agenda in Lightning

That's it.

Sain check: create a new dummy event in one end (Lightning or Google), and check it appears on the other end. Suppress it on the other end, and check that it disappeared from the first end.

iPhone sync with Google

Contact & Agenda

In Mail, Contact, Agendas settings, you'll have to Add an Exchange Account towards "m.google.com". Note that:

  • email fields is not used, so set as you mind
  • Exchange server might not appear first, so don't mind, iPhone will ask it after a first try to standard servers (I guess)
  • do not set the Mail synchronization unless that is what you want to do.

This might delete previous contact. I didn't mind as my iPhone was empty.

Sanity check: You should look at your agenda and contacts, create an event and a contact, and check that in Google and Thunderbird all is well reported. (You might need to ask for synchronization in Zindus extension to get a quick change synchronized.)

That's all.


You should definitively check this reference with more details: