Guide: Using GeneralSync with Mozilla Thunderbird

This guide describes the GeneralSync integration provided by the official Thunderbird add-on. It is divided into the following feature-specific sections:

  1. Installation: enabling GeneralSync features in Thunderbird
  2. Calendars: viewing and editing events
  3. Address books: viewing and editing contacts

Note that this document is intended as reference providing some background information on the GeneralSync integration; it is not required to read through this document in order to use GeneralSync. If you are not yet familiar with Mozilla Thunderbird, you might want to check out the official support resources provided by Mozilla as well. Thunderbird features unaltered by the GeneralSync integration will not be covered in this guide.

Installation

While starting GeneralSync for PC for the first time, the first-run setup installs the add-on by default. On the next start of Thunderbird, you will get prompted to confirm the installation:

Screenshot: add-in installation confirmation

Check the option Allow this installation, click continue and confirm the required restart to enable GeneralSync features.

If you did not choose to install the add-on during the first-run setup, or switched your Thunderbird profile, you can also install the add-on manually:

  1. Download the most recent version of the add-on (license agreement)
  2. Open Thunderbird's add-on manager (Menu|Add-ons, or Tools|Add-ons on the classical menu bar).
  3. Select the Extensions-Category (puzzle-icon on the left).
  4. Above the list of extensions, click on the gear button, and select Install Add-on From File.... Select the file downloaded in the first step.
  5. Confirm the installation.

Calendars

If you have the Lightning extension enabled (default since Thunderbird 38), Thunderbird provides calendar features. This section describes how to use Calendars managed by GeneralSync. If Lightning is not enabled, you cannot use Calendars with Thunderbird.

Adding a GeneralSync calendar to Thunderbird

To use a GeneralSync calendar in Thunderbird, right-click on the list of calendars in the calendar tab:

Screenshot: calendar tab with context menu of calendar list

Then, select the option New Calendar.... The new calendar dialog will open:

Screenshot: new calendar dialog, type page

Choose the option Decentralized via GeneralSync and continue to select a calendar to use:

Screenshot: GeneralSync content selection dialog for calendars

If you wish to add an existing calendar to Thunderbird, select the calendar you wish to add. Else, click on the plus icon in the top-right corner to create a new, empty calendar. It can then be selected right away.

After selecting a calendar, you can select an initial configuration:

Screenshot: new calendar dialog, config page

Similar to any other calendar used in Thunderbird, you can specify a name, color, and whether or not you wish to be notified on alarms within the calendar you're adding. The settings on this page do not influence GeneralSync in any way. It is possible for a calendar to have different names in Thunderbird and on GeneralSync.

Once you confirmed your configuration, the calendar can be used in Thunderbird:

Screenshot: new calendar dialog, finish page

Migrating to GeneralSync

If you wish to use an existing calendar with GeneralSync, perform the following steps:

  1. In the calendar tab, right-click the existing calendar, and choose Export Calendar....
  2. Save the calendar to a location of your choice.
  3. Add a new GeneralSync calendar, as explained above
  4. In the menu, choose Events and Tasks|Import Calendar..., then select the calendar file saved in the second step and choose the GeneralSync calendar as target.
  5. Verify that all events were transferred correctly. Afterwards, you may remove the original calendar from Thunderbird. If you do not want to keep it as a backup, you can also remove the file created in step 2.

Event version information

On calendars linked with GeneralSync, you can view version information on each event in the event editing dialog:

Screenshot: edit event dialog with version information, top part

The displayed information consists of a timestamp of the last change, and the device issuing the change. If the device issuing the change is not paired or otherwise has no known name, a technical device ID is displayed instead.

Resolving Conflicts

If the same event is changed on multiple devices, GeneralSync cannot automatically determine which change should be kept. The event will thus be in a conflict state, and can't be displayed in the calendar.

Thunderbird notifies you of existing conflicts with a warning sign in the bottom left corner of the calendar tab:

Screenshot: calendar tab with conflict warning

You can view conflicting versions by clicking on Resolve conflicts...:

Screenshot: conflict dialog with event

Select the version you wish to keep, and click Resolve to save your selection. Your selection will then be synced to other devices automatically.

If you do not wish to select a version right now, you can use the Skip button to go to the next conflict, if any. Once all conflicts were resolved or skipped, the dialog finishes:

Screenshot: conflict dialog, finish page

Address books

This section describes how to use address books managed by GeneralSync as regular address books in Thunderbird.

Adding a GeneralSync address book to Thunderbird

To use a GeneralSync address book in Thunderbird, first open the address book window (for example, through the toolbar button in the main window).

Screenshot: adding a new address book

Choose File|New|GeneralSync Address Book. A dialog permitting to select an existing address book will open. Choose an existing entry or use the plus button above the list to add a new one. The selected address book will now be available in Thunderbird.

Migrating to GeneralSync

You can drag and drop existing contacts into GeneralSync address books. Thus, the easiest way to move contacts from existing address books to GeneralSync is to select them (Ctrl+A to select all entries) and drag them onto a newly created address book.

Differences to regular Thunderbird contacts

Screenshot: Fields for postal adresses

For contacts stored in a GeneralSync address book there are minor differences to regular contacts:

Resolving Conflicts

If the same contact is changed on multiple devices, GeneralSync cannot automatically determine which change should be kept. The contact will thus be in a conflict state, and can't be displayed in the address book.

If any of your address books contain conflicting contacts, a warning is shown below the list of address books:

Screenshot: address book window with conflicts

Conflicts are also displayed in the properties of affected address books. Click on Resolve conflicts... to open the conflict resolution UI:

Screenshot: conflict resolution for contact

You can then select the change you wish to keep and click Resolve, or click skip to immediately skip to the next conflict without resolving. After resolving a conflict, its resolution is synced back to all other devices. You thus do not need to resolve the same conflict twice.

Thank you for using GeneralSync!

Feel free to contact us directly or through the forums if you have further questions or suggestions regarding this guide or GeneralSync itself.