Sync Google contacts with Thunderbird using CardDav

The big news of the day is another batch of Google services that get axed by the company. Among the services this time is Google Sync which will be disabled for the majority of users on January 30, 2013.

Google suggests to use CardCav and CalDav as alternatives along with Imap to sync data between devices, and I thought it would be great to demonstrate how you can make use of those options to synchronize data with the Thunderbird email client.

I'm going to demonstrate how to sync your Google contacts with Thunderbird using CardDav. Note that some add-ons for Thunderbird make a similar feature set available for users of the email client. Provider for Google Calendar for instance syncs data between Google Calendar and Lighting or Sunbird, and Google Contacts offers to sync contact date between Google and Thunderbird address books.

To use CardCad to sync Google contacts with Thunderbird you need the following:

  • A Google account
  • A recent version of the Thunderbird email client
  • The SOGo Connector Thunderbird extension

First thing you need to do is install the extension in Thunderbird. Download it to your local system first. Open Thunderbird and select Tools > Add-ons from the menubar. Click on the small settings icon next to search under Extensions, and select the Install add-on from file option. Pick the downloaded extension and proceed with the installation.

Open the address book via Tools > Address Book or the Ctrl-Shift-B shortcut. Select FileNew > Remote Address Book from the options and add the following values to the form that opens up:

  • Name: A custom name identifying the new remote address book
  • URL: https://google.com/m8/carddav/principals/__uids__/[email protected]/lists/default/
Read also:  Google launches Chrome Enterprise

gmail thunderbird address book-sync

You can make this read only if you like by checking the box here. A click on OK saves the information. Right-click the newly created address book now and select synchronize from the context menu. You will be asked for your Google username and password which you need to enter here. Please note you need to create an application specific password if you are using two-factor authentication for your Gmail account.

sync email addresses

And that's it. Note that some data won't be synchronized, this includes profile pictures for instance.

Summary
Article Name
Sync Google contacts with Thunderbird using CardDav
Description
The guide offers instructions on how to set up the Thunderbird email client with CardDav to synchronize Google Contacts automatically.
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Ghacks Technology News
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Responses to Sync Google contacts with Thunderbird using CardDav

  1. Swabbie December 15, 2012 at 9:22 pm #

    Does this store a local copy in Thunderbird and allow two way syncing and updates?

  2. saman December 16, 2012 at 11:21 am #

    what is wrong with zindus?!

  3. Richard December 16, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

    Thanks. This is quite useful for me. SOGo looks like something I have to explore in more depth.

  4. Frank D December 16, 2012 at 4:39 pm #

    The SoGo installation tells me that it's not compatible with Firefox 18. What gives?

    • Martin Brinkmann December 16, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

      It is for Thunderbird, not Firefox. If you get an installation dialog, right-click the file instead and select Save As from the context menu.

      • Frank D December 16, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

        @Martin: Thank you! Now it works.

  5. Joe December 19, 2012 at 4:56 am #

    I think I mistyped my password and now I can't get it to prompt me to reenter the password. It just never synchronizes. If I delete and recreate the remote address book, it never prompts me to reenter my username and password. :-( Seems like a few kinks need to be worked out.

  6. Andy December 30, 2012 at 12:58 am #

    It might help to delete the corresponding line in TB's password manager.
    Andy.

  7. Andy January 1, 2013 at 8:21 pm #

    This is a great idea but the Sogo Connector is as buggy as hell. :-(

    - It mixes up private and work email addresses.
    - It resurrects deleted contacts during synchronization
    - It drops phone numbers randomly.
    - It doesn't support contact photos.

    And it doesn't even do automatic synchronization. Explain to my users
    that they have to synchronize manually (right clicking in the right spot)
    after every edit! PLEASE prove me wrong. I've made many tests during
    the last days and would love to hear that I just missed some detail.

    Unbelievably there seems to be no other carddav addon for thunderbird.

    Sigh,
    Andy.

  8. Andy January 2, 2013 at 12:43 am #

    I tried twice in two days to post something here but it never appears. Strange?
    Andy.

  9. Andy January 2, 2013 at 12:52 am #

    Thanks. In the meantime I found out that contact photos _are_ synced but only some formats get through to Thunderbird. The rest is _really_ annoying however.

    I do hope Mozilla will include native CARDDAV support soon.

  10. Andy January 4, 2013 at 1:15 am #

    ehm, still not here...

  11. selvan777 January 7, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

    Mine currently syncs but only with the Google Contacts 0.6.40 add-on. I've uninstalled Thunderbird, deleted the profile, restarted Windows 7, re-installed Thunderbird 17.0, installed only the Inverse SOGo Connector 17.0.2 add-on, and still, when I click Sync, it does nothing (mail sync fine). I'm not using two-factor authentication and, if it helps, here are my stored passwords:

    https://google.com (google.com)
    imap://imap.googlemail.com (imap://googlemail.com)
    smtp://smtp.googlemail.com (smtp://googlemail.com)

    Thanks for any help, it's much appreciated.

  12. Andy January 9, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

    Martin, you still could not recover it from your Spam folder?
    Too bad. I feel the world has to know that this SoGo connector is more like a NoGo.
    Too many bugs, too user-unfriendly, ...

  13. JP February 4, 2013 at 2:31 pm #

    SoGo connector works fine for one Carddav Gmail account. However, I have not been able to sync in parallel with two Carddav accounts. Is there a solution ?

  14. selvan777 February 4, 2013 at 5:21 pm #

    gContactSync - https://addons.mozilla.org/en-us/thunderbird/addon/gcontactsync/

    Works like a champ!

  15. lukaz1010 April 16, 2014 at 9:39 pm #

    Many thanks for your guide. It works great!

  16. Corinne May 18, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

    Thanks for the guide! I have tried to connect Google to Thunderbird via Sogo with the link you gave above and it says it's connecting, but no addresses are imported...

    As a username I've used my full google e-mailadres and my usual e-mail password. Have I done something wrong maybe? Or is there something wrong with the suppport for Carddav on google's side?

    I have managed to make a carddav connection with via Sogo to my OwnDrive server, but for some reason the one to gmail won't work.

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