Thunderbird, the email client from Mozilla, is a light and full-featured email client that many prefer to Microsoft Outlook. The only problem is that it has no native calendar function, and for those of us with busy lives that can be a deal-breaker. Read on for a solution to this problem and more!
Thunderbird > Outlook, except...
Thunderbird is an incredibly light desktop email offering POP3 and IMAP accounts and a feature-rich interface. It's memory footprint is a fraction of that of Outlook and Outlook Express, and thanks to being a Mozilla open source project, is extremely customizable, with a vast library of plug-ins and tweaks. The only thing that kept many people using Outlook was the calendar function, which while a bit clumsy was definitely usable.
When the latest version launched without a calendar, many people were disappointed, but Mozilla quickly unveiled the reasons: Sunbird and Lightning. Sunbird is a cross-platform calendar and Lightning integrates that functionality with Thunderbird seamlessly. Just follow Mozilla's directions to install Lightning and you're ready to go.
But it gets better.
Let Me Be the First to Welcome our New Search-Engine Overlords
Google has a solution for just about everything, and they do it so well that it doesn't bother me that they are taking over the world. Google Calendar is one of my favorite services: a calendar that integrates with just about every event site on the net, has text message reminders for events, and best of all: can't be lost due to system failures. Wouldn't it be great to have that functionality in Thunderbird? Ah, but you can!
Download the Provider for Google Calendar plug-in for Thunderbird and install it per Mozilla's instructions. So long as you have your Gmail account setup properly in Thunderbird, the Lightning calendar will sync with your Google Calendar.
But it gets yet better.
Ipod Calendar and Contacts Without Outlook
One of the really annoying things about Apple iTunes is that it only allows you to synchronize your calendar and contacts with Outlook. But with mozPod you can get the same functionality from Thunderbird. Just download and follow instructions. You will need to have iTunes so that you can set the right options, but after that you can just use Thunderbird. Make sure iTunes is set to "Enable Disk Use" and make sure it is not set to sync with Outlook.
Then just open Thunderbird. If it detects an iPod it will pop up a little message letting you know it is syncing and in few second will pop up another saying it is done. Eject your iPod and disconnect it and now you have your data on the go.
Warning: mozPod does not work with iPod Touch or the iPhone.
Thunderbird is a great email client, and with the right additions it can be a complete replacement for Outlook. Always remember to make sure to follow the instructions, as contact and calendar data is far too precious to endanger.