Sync Your Windows Mobile Contacts and Calendar with Plaxo, Thunderbird, and Google for FREE

Step Three – Your Computer

The third step involves configuring Mozilla Thunderbird. Once again, there are two main steps: telling it how to connect to Plaxo, and telling it how to connect to Google Calendar.

1. Connecting Thunderbird to Plaxo.

Before we begin this section, I suggest exporting and then removing any contacts you may already have in your Thunderbird address book. While this is not strictly necessary, there is a risk of creating duplicate entries in Plaxo, and then on your mobile device.

Plaxo offers a number of downloads to sync data to their network. Take a look at their download page. In addition to Thunderbird, they currently offer add-ons for Outlook and Outlook Express, plus Mac OS X Address Book. Yes, they also offer an add-on directly for Windows Mobile (based on the Funambol client, actually), but before you get too excited, the Windows Mobile add-on requires the Plaxo Premium service. Oh well, that’s why we have NuevaSync.

Grab the Plaxo Thunderbird add-on. Install it like you would any other extension (Start Thunderbird, go to Tools → Add-ons → click on Install, browse to the XPI file).

After you restart Thunderbird, you will see a new toolbar for Plaxo. Simply click the Sync button to begin the configuration and initial sync.

plaxo-toolbar.png

Follow the prompts, filling in your Plaxo username and password as required. Once configured, Thunderbird will now connect directly to your Plaxo account and sync with your online address book. Oh, I suggest going to the Plaxo menu → Preferences, and make sure that Manual Sync in NOT checked.

At this point, Contacts in Plaxo, your mobile device, and Thunderbird should all be synchronized. If you add a contact to Thunderbird, it will appear automatically in Plaxo, and then on your phone. The reverse is also true. For instance, if you delete a contact on your phone, at the next sync it will be removed from Plaxo and then from Thunderbird. Neat, huh?

2. Connecting Thunderbird to Google Calendar.

The final step involves telling Thunderbird how to connect to Google Calendar. While you could use the Mozilla Sunbird calendar program, I suggest grabbing the Lightning add-on that integrates a calendar directly into Thunderbird. Install the Lightning XPI the same way you installed the Plaxo add-on (if you receive a warning, but sure that you are attempting to install Lighting into Thunderbird and not Firefox!). Of course, restart Thunderbird to finalize the Lightning installation.

Re-launch Thunderbird, and you should see a new sidebar on the right for Events and Tasks.

tbird-lightning.png

Before you start manually adding events to your new calendar, we need to tell it how to sync with the mighty Google Calendar. To do so, we’ll use the slick Provider add-on for Thunderbird, which adds bi-directional sync capability between the Lightning add-on that you just installed and GCal. Download, install the Provider XPI, and re-launch Thunderbird just like you did before.

You’re almost done. All that’s left is to connect your local Lightning calendar to Google. This process takes a few steps, but hang in there. You only have to do it once.

First, log into your Google Calendar account. Click the Settings link near the top-right corner.

gcal-settings.png

Under Calendar Settings, click the Calendars link, and then select your calendar.

gcal-settings2.png

Once your calendar options expand, look near the bottom of the page. Right-click the XML button to the right of Private Address and copy its location.

gcal-private-address.png

At this point, return to Thunderbird and select the Calendar button in the bottom-left corner. Now, create a new calendar by choosing:

File → New → Calendar…

A new window will spawn asking where you would like to store the calendar. Choose On the Network.

tbird-network-cal.png

On the next screen, choose Google Calendar as the Format (this is the option that the Provider add-on creates), and paste the XML location that you previously copied into the Location slot.

tbird-gcal.png

Finally, enter your Gmail address and password. Voila! Your Lightning Calendar will now populate with events already created on your Google Calendar.

tbird-synced-gcal.png

The End Result

Holy moly! Did you read all the way to this point? If so, congratulations! You should now have a completely functional and synchronized setup. But don’t just take my word for it. Try it yourself.

Try adding an event to your Lightning Calendar. Within a total of 15 minutes, it should show up on Google Calendar, followed by Plaxo’s Calendar AND your mobile device. Now delete that event on your mobile device. Within another 15 minutes, it should no longer exist anywhere in your setup. It works the same way for Contacts. Totally awesome.

Again, remember that some of these are still Beta products, and there may be outages or strange glitches. I’ve noticed a couple times that ActiveSync on my MOTO Q has trouble reaching the NuevaSync server and won’t sync for a few hours, but eventually it comes back.

The only potential problem I potentially see with the setup I have just described is if NuevaSync decides to require a paid subscription service once they come out of Beta. I don’t know what they are planning, but I certainly would not mind an ad or two, plus the option to donate. Their service is certainly worthy of many generous donations.

Did this process work for you? Let me know in the comments. Also, as you might imagine, this article took a LONG time to research and write, so if you found it useful, please spread the word by giving it a Stumble, a Digg, a Mixx, or whatever.

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35 thoughts on “Sync Your Windows Mobile Contacts and Calendar with Plaxo, Thunderbird, and Google for FREE

  1. with all the software that works on windows mobile(smart phone or pocket pc) that lets linux or any operating system see the WM device as a usb drive why has someone not used that function to work with the file directly on the WM device directly and bypass microsloths proprietary active sync.

    maybe no one has thought of it except a linux noob like me.

  2. Set this up last night and it seems to work quite well. As a Thunderbird user who avoids Outlook like the plague, thanks much for researching this.

    Contact with the NuevaSync servers does seem to be somewhat sporadic (as you mentioned) but that is perfectly acceptable given their beta status. And given the functionality they have, I would even be willing to pay something for the service once they are out of beta, especially if they expand the number of other sites they can link with (as I suspect they will).

    Again, thanks for doing the legwork on this.

  3. I ran into an issue with Plaxo, trying to sync across several systems. At my office, I use Outlook, which I have syncing with my Treo. The Outlook/Plaxo sync works like a charm. On my home system, I use Thunderbird (since I have a choice, tho I do with Thunderbird’s address book wasn’t so lame.)

    I synced my Office to Treo. Perfect. Came home, blew out my address book in Thunderbird (since much of it was outdated) and tried to sync down from plaxo. Instead, Thunderbird was seen as an authoritative source, and it deleted all of my contacts in Plaxo. When I got back to the office, I backed up my address book to file, synced again, and all of my contacts went missing from Office (since they were gone from Plaxo). I had to backup via file and resync with everything. Now I’m nervous about trying to restore my Thunderbird contacts at home, since the same thing might happen.

    I think the problem is that I don’t see anywhere in Plaxo where you can specify which sync point is authoritative. :(

  4. Dipali – I’m glad you think my content is worthwhile, but I prefer that people only copy a short blurb and then link back to the original article.

    If you had something else in mind, just contact me.

  5. Thank you so much! I’ve just recently purchased a new notebook and it doesn’t come with Outlook and I really didn’t want to purchase additional software. I only used Outlook to sync my calendar and contacts as a backup. Your article really help me a great deal. Now I have several locations for my calendar and contacts and the best part is they will stay in sync.

  6. I tried WM6.0(Russian)-NueveSync.com-GoogleCalendar.
    Everything is OK till the moment of “Searching Changes”. It stops then with code 0×85010014.

    During the tests I lost my addresses (there is a backup).
    Be very carefull with your data.

  7. Thanks! I’m setting this up tonight! One question: using this setup, which contact list (thunderbird, plaxo, phone)will be the “master”? So when it syncs, what overrides what?

  8. @Dee : yes it does but you can’t choose a calendar to be not synced.

    Here is a workaround solution :
    * create another Gmail Account
    * share with this account the calendar to be synced
    * change your parameters in nuevasync to the new Gmail account

    hope it helps,

    Thanks for the tuto,


    Max

  9. Thanks for a great (and functional) tutorial!

    I’m just got my very first smartphone and it’s nice being able to use thunderbird and plaxo.
    This whole set up worked like a charm. I was amazed I did it correctly! Thank you again!

  10. If one wants only to sync Google apps contacts and calendar with a Windows Mobile 6.1 device (HTC S620/T-Mobile Dash in particular) and not use Thunderbird, is Nuevasync the only necessary service? It appears to sync with Google apps directly, not needing Plaxo.

  11. GW – Yes, Nuevasync is the only required service in your case. As you noticed, Nuevasync can now sync with Google contacts directly, thereby eliminating the need for Plaxo (if you don’t want it). This is a new feature since I wrote the tutorial.

    Good luck.

  12. Thank you… it feels like a life-time of trying to get things nice like this. Linux and my HTC Windows Mobile are starting to make some sense. This greatly improves One’s functionality. Keep up the works and sharing, its inspiring. Peace.

  13. What if I also want to synch with my e-mail. If I delete every server, then I can’t synch my e-mail. Is this not an issue for anybody else? This is especially problematic since nuevasync does not sync e-mail, right?

  14. Brian,

    Thanks for the great tutorial and heads up about Nuevasync, I configured everything as per the instructions and it seems to work perfectly so far!

    I also sync my contacts with my Google web account via the zindus add-on for TB. (Otherwise I gather from your diagram that Google contacts aren’t really in the picture as you just use the phone or TB address book?)

    Is there any reason why you didn’t also use the Plaxo calendar in Nuevasync? I’m wondering as I sync both my work calendar from iCal and my personal calendar from Google into Plaxo – would both come through to my phone via Nuevasync?

    Cheers!

  15. you don’t cover if this will allow you sync with your office outlook but your home thunderbird. you ask to delete existing servers which i do not want to do. additionally the next step to add in the URL of the nuevasync server but that option is not present, it shows me a email address. I can only assume this is because of the activesync connection I have to my work computer. Do I really want to delete that? I just don’t know at this time!

  16. boo!

    was the goal of this to create 4-5 copies of the same contact and then to delete others, if so it worked perfectly!

    I’ve tried it twice and there are to many sync issues going on. Activesync is to inconsistent.

  17. the effort you pay in thinking over and working it out must have been tremendous. I’ve just set it up and it works like charm. I have always wanted to have a synchronization solution for my GTD, and finally here it is. Thank you so much for sharing.

  18. Months later, after cursing Vista, Palm Treo750w, WM 6, and all usb cables I am SO relieved! It is simple, can be used on any PC, everywhere, at any time. One to rule them all… thank you very much.

  19. Please help…I do the directions above and it does not work. on my mobile 6.1 phone which is a htc touch I type in a add server point with nuevasync server address and their user name and password I set up and when I do activesync does start syncing like you said and then it stops and goes right back to the configure server screen where you type in your user name and password. I have uninstalled and reinstalled and checked everything thrice and nothing changes. I am in a maddening cycle. Please help…

    Side note, I am doing this because funambol does not work for me either…

    I realize this is not a help forum and emails are not published…how can I get help?

  20. Desktop Computer OS: Ubuntu 8.04 (Linux)
    Smartphone: Samsung Omnia running Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional
    E-Mail Client: Mozilla Thunderbird 2.0

    I initially had some success with FinchSync (using a USB cable), but was unable to later get FinchSync to work corectly. I played around with varying things for a few weeks, but never succeeded. Finally, I tried the Plaxo/NuevaSync idea. It worked pretty much on the first try. As suggested I played around with it (adding/deleting contacts on both the Omnia and in TB) and everything works fine.

    There are only 2 downsides I have encountered (so far):

    1) I am giving all my contact info to Plaxo (and potentially NuevaSync).

    2) I use the Thunderbird Addon on “MoreFunctionsForAddressBook”, which adds a contact picture (and other useful things) to the Thunderbird Addressbook. Unfortunately, the pic does NOT sync. My initial thoughts were that the Plaxo Thunderbird AddOn does NOT incorporate the additional fields from “MoreFunctionsForAddressBook”. However, upon looking at this further, I’m finding this to NOT be true (the Category field, for example, DOES sync with Plaxo). Thus, I’m not sure why the pic can’t sync. If I could get the pics to sync, I’d be very happy indeed. There are some less important “MoreFunctionsForAddressBook” fields that would also be nice to sync (Spouse’s name, Birthday, etc…). Anyone have any thoughts about how to get the Pics +/- the other fields to sync with Plaxo?

  21. I was using this sync mode for several months (it was working like a charm!) until last week the contacts sync started to fail. NuevaSync informed me Plaxo was not allowing them access to their API but expected this to be solved in the short term.
    I suspect it has to do with the fact that Plaxo moved their “Outlook Sync” function to the premium package.
    If Plaxo does cut this functionality for good does anyojne have any other alternatives to sync contacts?

      1. Brian, The only reason that this is not an option for me is because the contacts in the Gmail account are excessively simple and my contacts database contemplates more information than Google is willing to carry at the time.
        Any other thoughts?
        PS: Since losing the Plaxo connection via Nuevasync I’ve installed Outlook in my computer and synced exclusively the contacts locally. And just FYI, Microsoft removed WiFi syncing from Activesync beyond version 4!!!

  22. I just used neuvasync with success. I have a google calender and I synced my contacts from my old WinMo 6.1 phone with a new 6.5 HTC Touch2 without signing up for plaxo. Thanks

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