Updated 29th June 2016: For folks landing here via search engines and the like, I recommend ditching Gmail as a mail service altogether – as I now have. The hoops one has to jump through to simply get Gmail to behave normally with an external mail client are no longer worth the effort in light of the better business email hosting services now available. FastMail in particular is a cinch to set up, is stable and affordable, has full calendaring, and just simply works with minimal setup on the Thunderbird side. Google clearly has zero interest or business reason to permit Gmail to work seamlessly with external clients, especially as it removes the vector for targeted advertising.
With the latest versions of Thunderbird, and the Lightning and Provider for Google Calendar add-ons, Thunderbird now supports full Gmail Calendar and Tasks synchronisation. As the setup has changed somewhat from previous versions of these add-ons we’re going to cover the current procedure in this blog post.
We are using Thunderbird 31.2.0 on Ubuntu 14.04.
If you’ve already installed these two add-ons and you’re synchronising your Gmail calendar, please delete the calendar from Thunderbird (this unsubscribes from the calendar only, and leaves all server-side data intact), and uninstall the add-ons. Restart Thunderbird to get back to a clean-slate state.
Now, using the Thunderbird Add-ons Manager, search for and install both the Lightning and Provider for Google Calendar add-ons:
Restart Thunderbird to complete the installation process.
Next, switch to the Calendar tab in Thunderbird. Right-click in the area where the default Thunderbird calendar is visible and create a new calendar:
We now work through the “Create New Calendar” wizard. In the first two screens that appear, we want to add a calendar on the network, and this should be a Google Calendar:
You’ll now be prompted to enter your email address: this should be the Gmail address of the associated calendar you wish to synchronise:
Thunderbird will then list the calendars and task lists available to be synced. Tick these as you need:
If all goes well you’ll see a dialogue indicating the wizard has finished, and, after a brief delay (during which the interface might not be responsive) your Gmail Calendar and Tasks will be synchronised:
At the far right-hand-side of the above screengrab you can see our tasks lists (only containing a single task in this example). These are synced with your Gmail account.