sync Google groups with Thunderbird addressbooks

The addon now syncs Google Groups with Thunderbird, SeaMonkey, Postbox and Spicebird addressbooks.  The feature is available in release 0.8.15 and later.

How it works

google groups as thunderbird addressbooks

After enabling the option, the next sync creates addressbooks that correspond to Google groups.

google groups as addressbooksgoogle groups

The synced Google groups

All Google groups are synced.  Google Apps users don’t see Coworkers, Family, Friends - consistent with gmail.

Contacts that aren’t members of a Google group appear in the ‘Suggested Contacts’ addressbook.

Add, rename and delete

This is a full two-way sync, so add, rename or delete an addressbook and the next sync will alter the corresponding group at Google.

You can change a contact’s Google group membership by:

  • drag and drop between zindus/yourname@gmail.com#groupname addressbooks or
  • deleting it from the corresponding zindus/yourname@gmail.com#groupname addressbook.

To entirely delete a contact, delete it from Personal Address Book, zindus/yourname@gmail.com or zindus/yourname@gmail.com#Suggested Contacts.

Limitations

  • don’t edit a contact in two different addressbooks.  The addon chooses a winner and propagates it.
  • don’t drag and drop if you use Thunderbird 2, Postbox 1.x or SpiceBird 0.7.x.
    Addressbook limitations in these clients cause a drag+drop to appear to the addon as a delete+add (instead of a move) - which creates duplicates.
  • don’t drag and drop between Personal Address Book or zindus/yourname@gmail.com and zindus/yourname@gmail.com#xxx.  You’ll have to ‘Reset’ to get back into sync.

Mailing lists

With apologies to the many people who asked for mailing lists, there are reasons we decided the addon should instead sync Google groups with Thunderbird addressbooks.

Enjoy!

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43 Responses to “sync Google groups with Thunderbird addressbooks”

  1. Rise-T Says:

    Are there any functional problems with the testing release? I’m eagerly awaiting the next official version with Google Groups included… :-)

  2. Yoshi Says:

    I’m not getting anywhere with the sync add-on. Thunderbird doesn’t even see the file when I go to install it. Has anyone else had this issue or is it just my space-time warp around my desk here?

  3. leni Says:

    @Rise-T - one more (tricky) bugfix and one more translation and it’ll be ready - shouldn’t be too long now.

    @Yoshi - most likely you’ve downloaded it to one directory and are looking to install it from another. eg. if you download it to c:\windows\Temp then when you visit Tools/Addons/Install type c:\windows\Temp\*.xpi and you’ll see it.

  4. Lorenzo Says:

    Hi,

    Would it be possible to sync Gmail groups with mailing lists instead of new address books? I think it would be more “aligned” with Gmail behaviour, since groups are a subset of “All contacts” (just like a mailing list is a subset of a certain address book).
    What do you think about this?
    Regards,
    Lorenzo

  5. Lorenzo Says:

    Sorry, just read the roadmap…
    Regards,
    Lorenzo

  6. Neel Says:

    Is it possible to integrate this feature in such a way that one could select which Thunderbird AB to sync with which Google group. i.e. I could configure a Thunderbird AB named “Family” to sync with my Google group “Family”.

    This would allow for cleaner names for the AB instead of “zindus/yourname@gmail.com#xxx”, and cleaner names for Google groups instead of “prefixed with ‘zindus/’”.

  7. David Says:

    Man I need to be able to sync TB address books with Google contact groups. Since upgrading to TB 3 I have no way to sync my 4 installs.

  8. Bob Says:

    “most likely you’ve downloaded it to one directory and are looking to install it from another. eg. if you download it to c:\windows\Temp then when you visit Tools/Addons/Install type c:\windows\Temp\*.xpi and you’ll see it.”

    This doesn’t work for me even if i put the correct path into the install window. Isn’t there an easier solution? I was able to install the main add-on with such ease. Thanks in advance for your help.

  9. leni Says:

    @Bob, here are instructions on how to install a Thunderbird addon:
    http://kb.mozillazine.org/Extensions_%28Thunderbird%29#Installation

  10. Bob Says:

    Thanks for the quick response, Leni. I’m finding that I can only sync the groups as designated by Google itself, not the ones I created myself. Could you please advise?

  11. leni Says:

    @Bob, in the current testing release, user-defined google group names have to have a ‘zindus/’ prefix to sync with TB. That might change in a future iteration because you’re not the first person to trip up over that.

  12. Mike Says:

    I cant sync groups with TB 3 either. the main book syncs but none of the groups do. I tried naming one zindus/test too - still nada.

  13. leni Says:

    @mike, the feature is off by default - did you enable it in settings (Tools/Zindus/Edit Account)?

  14. Mike Says:

    If it helps any, I have ver. 0.8.14 and I cannot find the option box to select “sync groups” anywhere…

  15. Mike Says:

    @leni - I don’t see the option… seems like i don’t *really* have the right add-on maybe?

  16. leni Says:

    @mike, the feature is currently in the testing release.

  17. Nygg Says:

    It would be great if we were able to sync the contact pictures to Thunderbird also!

  18. leni Says:

    Just to note that based on feedback from @Bob and @Mike above and others, as of testing release 2010-04-14, the addon syncs all Google groups, not just those prefixed with ‘zindus/’. The blog entry has been edited to reflect this.

    Thanks for the feedback folks!

  19. robert Says:

    Guys,

    The option to sync Google groups is kind of hidden. I could not find it at first and it’s not too well explained here.

    In Thunderbird you have to go to:

    Tools>Zindus>

    Then under Accounts you will see your email address (ou may have one or more accounts there). Select the one you want to enable sync google groups for and click the “Edit” button.

    There you will see the option to sync google groups.

  20. threemonks Says:

    I downloaded zindus Google/Thunderbird contact sync 0.8.23, being too confident in zindus, I tried to have it sync directly with my Thunderbird contact, which results in 90% of my contacts being duplicates, since most of my contacts in google and in Thunderbird have some slight difference. I now have to spend a few hours to clean them up because they now clutter my phone contacts badly.

    I hope the add-on would prompt me for each contact conflict update, and provide a detailed map between the fields, and give me the option to choose which side of each field wins, instead of silently decide which one matches to which, and how to merge the corresponding field for a matching entry. That would make it tremendously useful.

    As the state it is now, I have to avoid it.

  21. threemonks Says:

    Sorry, the 90% is a bit exaggerated:) I’d say 50% of my contacts are duplicated, which still requires me to spend a few hours to clean it up.

  22. leni Says:

    @threemonks, a couple of things to consider:
    1. google has a ‘contact merge’ feature which works pretty well. Just login to google and click the ‘find duplicates’ button.
    2. an ‘intelligent slow sync, query and merge feature’ is a quite a lot of work! There is a separate ‘duplicate contact manager’ addon that just does a part of what you described.

  23. GmailとThunderbirdのアドレス帳を同期してくれるアドオン「Zindus」の設定 | Vanilla Rock Says:

    [...] Zindusのインストールと設定 まずはThunderbirdにZindusをインストールする。 Thunderbirdのアドオン検索からZindusを検索・インストールします。 もしくはThunderbirdのアドオンページからダウンロードしてもOKです。 インストールしたらいつも通りThunderbirdを再起動して、次は設定です。 Thunderbirdの「ツール」→「Zindus」からGmailのアカウントを設定する。 Zindusの設定画面を開いて、まずはアカウントを登録します。 「Add」をクリックしてアカウントを登録しましょう。 「Sync with」が「Google」になっている事を確認して、GmailアカウントのEmailとPasswordを入力します。 「Sync Google Contcts with」は「Personal Address Book」でOK ここを「zindus/」に設定すると、Thunderbirdに同期する際にアドレス帳に「/zindus」という項目が追加されて、そこに同期されるようになります。 個人アドレス帳のデータとGmailのデータを混同したくない場合はこちらにチェックをすると良いでしょう。 (…そうすると、若干Syncの意味が薄れる気がしますがw) 「Google Suggested Contacts」は「Include」でOK 「Sync Google groups with Thunderbird addressbooks」は「No」の方が良いでしょう。 Yesにした場合、Gmailでのグループ訳がThunderbirdのアドレス帳に反映されてえらい事になります。 (どういう風になるかはこちらをご覧下さい。) [...]

  24. Shakir Says:

    Hi there,
    I read the forum many times but I am unable to find my answer.
    The situation is that I have Thunder Bird with a lot of distribution lists (groups) and I want to sync my TB address book with its “groups” intact to GMail.
    GMail has no groups at all at the moment basically its a new GMail account.
    When I try to sync, all my contacts goes to “My Contacts” in Gmail, without any Groups or distribution lists.
    Can anyone help me out please.
    Cheers!

  25. Alberge Says:

    Hi,

    Zindus is not synchronizing distribution lists with Google groups for listed reasons.

    But why, as soon as I am using a mailing list in TB, the members are no longer synchronized with Google’s contacts and therefore disappear from my Andoid. I suspect that Zindus is try to synchr in a non existing Google Group.

    I had to call a client to warn about a delay. Was blocked in public transportation (We have strikes in France). Unable !!! Before leaving, I had creating a distribution list including this client name.

    It’s really unfair because I can’t any longer use my local TB mailing lists. I deleted them all and resynced to make sure I have my complete address book on my phone.

    Now, I have to handle my lists with a Windows text file and copy and paste. WOW !!!

    Where is this box “Sync Google groups…” Yes-No.
    I never ticked it to Yes. It may have an effect on the above unfair synch behaviour ?

    Thanks for help !

  26. Mike Cortese Says:

    When I sync, Thunderbird uses only the display name, not the first/last name fields for a contact’s name. I guess this may be a google limitation. My question is has anyone found a way to parse and populate those into first/last name fields? Otherwise, autocomplete does not work properly for names.

  27. leni Says:

    @mike, the addon doesn’t sync first+last names yet, it’s on the roadmap.

  28. GmailとThunderbirdのアドレス帳を同期してくれるアドオン「Zindus」の設定 | Vanilla Rock Says:

    [...] Zindusのインストールと設定 まずはThunderbirdにZindusをインストールする。 Thunderbirdのアドオン検索からZindusを検索・インストールします。 もしくはThunderbirdのアドオンページからダウンロードしてもOKです。 インストールしたらいつも通りThunderbirdを再起動して、次は設定です。 Thunderbirdの「ツール」→「Zindus」からGmailのアカウントを設定する。 Zindusの設定画面を開いて、まずはアカウントを登録します。 「Add」をクリックしてアカウントを登録しましょう。 「Sync with」が「Google」になっている事を確認して、GmailアカウントのEmailとPasswordを入力します。 「Sync Google Contcts with」は「Personal Address Book」でOK ここを「zindus/」に設定すると、Thunderbirdに同期する際にアドレス帳に「/zindus」という項目が追加されて、そこに同期されるようになります。 個人アドレス帳のデータとGmailのデータを混同したくない場合はこちらにチェックをすると良いでしょう。 (…そうすると、若干Syncの意味が薄れる気がしますがw) 「Google Suggested Contacts」は「Include」でOK 「Sync Google groups with Thunderbird addressbooks」は「No」の方が良いでしょう。 Yesにした場合、Gmailでのグループ訳がThunderbirdのアドレス帳に反映されてえらい事になります。 (どういう風になるかはこちらをご覧下さい。) [...]

  29. brainbug00 Says:

    hi,
    whats about a to choose whiche groups you want to sync?
    also would be great if the prefix (zindus/ACC@googlemail.com#) of the adressbooks could be disabled! ;)

  30. leni Says:

    @brainbug, can you describe the scenario where you want some google groups synced but not others?

  31. brainbug00 Says:

    for example the standard group “works” (in german “mitarbeiter”) or when i have a group only for my phone and google but don’t want it on thunderbird ;)

    > also would be great if the prefix (zindus/ACC@googlemail.com#) of the adressbooks could be disabled

  32. leni Says:

    @brainbug00 - ok, both noted as feature-requests.

  33. leni Says:

    @brainbug00 - Although I have filed your suggestions as feature requests, both of your suggestions have the following attributes:
    (1) they involve adding preferences
    (2) they would be used by only a few power users
    (3) they are both “nice to have” ie. there is no actual harm in these features being absent

    I recently ran across this 37signals suggestion to avoid preferences. It is a sentiment I agree with. Simplicity has been a high priority objective for the addon since the beginning. Many users of the addon appreciate and comment on it.

    So I dont want to pretend that your suggestions will be implemented anytime soon. Let us see whether anything changes over time. eg. either of your suggestions may move from being a “power user” feature to one which is demanded by a majority.

  34. papounet007 Says:

    Hi,

    I have installed Zindus and “Provider for Google agenda” in order to synchronize my Thunderbird with my android smart phone (HTC). It start working not so bad. The main issue is for distribution lists. I have tried the various possibilities but none are satisfactory.
    1) If I have distribution lists in TB, they are not synced into Google contacts. Why not if there are bugs in TB as you say, but why the contacts inside the TB distribution lists are not transfered into Google contacts ? That means that it is not possible to have distribution lists in TB (even not synced to Google contacts)
    2) I have tried one of the solutions proposed which is to define Google groups in Google contacts then to sync. I get new groups in TB like zindus/…. but they can’t be used as mailing list when I want to send a mail from TB ! So not usable.
    3) One “solution” given above is “have Google groups and when you want to send a mail to a group, do it from Google mail” ! Clearly, it is NOT a solution : if it would, I could also completely delete TB and work with Gmail directly.

    To sum up, I have no solution to have distribution lists in TB running correctly ! I would be happy not to synchronize these distribution lists if the contacts they contain would be synchronized themselves.

  35. leni Says:

    papounet007 - you gave a fair summary. There is no “good” solution. Sorry!

  36. transmogrifier Says:

    Any chance there’s an update for Thunderbird 5.0 in the works?

  37. leni Says:

    @transmogrifier - the addon has been updated to support Thunderbird 5.

    A new version with support for Thunderbird 5 (0.8.33) was submitted to addons.mozilla.org on 26 June. It is still in some kind of queue there. I am not sure when it will be available for download from there - hopefully soon!

    Meantime, 0.8.34 (incl support for tb5) is available at: http://zindus.com/i/download

  38. transmogrifier Says:

    Thanks… updated successfully to 0.8.35 directly from the website since the update is not yet available from addons.mozilla.org

  39. Richard Says:

    Just installed 0.8.33 and tried it. Everything works fine, include the Google group.

  40. Richard Downer Says:

    Is anybody experiencing problems with Zindus 0.8.38 and Thunderbird 15. Since upgrading Thunderbird I am getting the following message on attempting to Sync “Sync failed: Server was busy or changed during Sync”

  41. leni Says:

    Richard, TB15 broke the addon, the fix is in release 0.8.41 and later.

    addons.mozilla.org is currently on 0.8.38, 0.8.42 has been submitted there.

    Meantime you can download a version that works from http://zindus.com/i/download

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  43. Franko Says:

    This is all I get when I try to Sync with gmail contacts

    Sync failed:

    The server was busy or changed during the sync. Please try again.

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