Sharing address books
- 1 Copy the address book
- 2 Share an address book on a file share
- 3 Funambol and SyncML servers
- 4 Plaxo
- 5 Email provider specific add-on
- 6 LDAP
- 7 Sogo
- 8 GCALDaemon: GMail contacts as pseudo-LDAP
- 9 Virtual Appliance
- 10 IMAP specific
- 11 Share the OSX System's Address Book
- 12 Integrate with a CRM
- 13 Sync with a database
- 14 See also
- 15 External links
Copy the address book
One way to share address books is to store the user profiles on a file share and overwrite the addressbooks of each user with a simple "copy" command. However, this assumes all new entries or changes were in the copy thats being replicated. Its also error prone. You could avoid this by sharing a single copy.
The SyncMab extension is a usefull way to automate copying address books. You can configure it to sync one or more address books whenever you start and/or exit Thunderbird. However, there are reports it doesn't work correctly with 1.5 and 184.108.40.206 and there doesn't appear to be any way to contact the author except by email.
The Addressbooks Synchronizer extension can copy address books from a local folder or file share, or use FTP , WebDAV, or IMAP to fetch the file.
Early versions of Thunderbird let you replace the "abook.mab" filename with a full pathname to specify the address book was stored on a file share. That would let multiple users and/or machines use a single copy. However, that functionality no longer works and there is no indication that it will ever be restored. You can replace the filename to specify a relative pathname. For example:
specifies that abook.mab is stored in a "test" subdirectory in my profile. So you could store it in any subdirectory below the profile. You can do the same thing with other address books. But it's not very useful.
If you're using Linux you could move a address book to another location (such as a file share) and then use a symlink to create a symbolic link to the file. As far as Thunderbird is concerned nothing has changed, the operating system hides the fact that the file is actually stored elsewhere. That works as long as you don't have a copy of the address book in the profile. The NTFS file system under Windows 2000 and XP supports an equivalent of a symlink called a junction point. It works fine with Thunderbird, but may be too complex for most users.
Funambol and SyncML servers
Funambol servers are provided by some free online calendar services primarily to synch your your contacts and calendar with phones and PDA's. However, you can also use Thunderbird with them. Typically you can use either a Funambol extension such as the Funambol Mozilla Plugin or a SyncML extension such as the Tsync extension. You don't have to have a calendar (Lightning extension) if you just want to sync/share contacts.
See What if I have a BlackBerry device? for information about using a Blackberry with myFUNAMBOL. Search the list of supported phones of the other providers to see if they support it. Mobyko for example currently lists 57 specific Blackberry models it supports.
Scheduleworld provides its own SyncML extension (called syncSW) that can also synch its calendar with Google Calendar . Memotoo makes your contacts available using a LDAP server (directory server) . Thunderbird normally uses *.mab files to store an address book in your profile but it can also use a LDAP server as a address book.
If the add-on doesn't support calendars
If you need to sync both a calendar and contacts and have problems finding a Funambol/SyncML add-on that supports syncing both contacts and calendars that will work with a free online service, consider not using Lightning and using Google Calendar Tab plus an add-on that just syncs contacts (either with a Funambol/SyncMNL server or with Google Contacts) instead.
Plaxo has a Thunderbird toolbar (an extension) that can synchronize a single address book with your Plaxo address book. There are similar toolbars for Outlook and Outlook Express though they map more fields.
Its not clear what its status is but it looks like its been quietly abandoned.. The extension is no longer listed on the main downloads page though its still available here if you know where to find it. It only supports Thunderbird 1.5 and 2.0.
One user was told by Plaxo technical support that they no longer support Thunderbird when he emailed them for help. "Plaxo for Thunderbird" is still listed on their help page but the link is broken, the Thunderbird plaxo forum seems to have disappeared, and they haven't mentioned Thunderbird in their blog since April 24, 2007 when they announced support for Thunderbird 2.0.
Email provider specific add-on
There are a couple of email provider specific add-ons that synchronize Thunderbird's address book with your webmail address book. The Zindus Thunderbird contact sync with Google , Google Contacts and gcontactsync add-ons are examples of this. Search Mozilla Add-ons (AMO) and/or the Add-ons Mirror (its a superset of AMO) to find others.
Some email providers provide synchronization programs (not add-ons) that will work with just their accounts. For example. Yahoo provides Yahoo AutoSync and Google provides Google Sync. Unfortunately, neither currently supports Thunderbird.
Rather than using abook.mab to store the address book on your hard disk, you could use a LDAP server to share the address book. Unfortunately Thunderbird currently doesn't support editing entries on the LDAP server (this is bug 86405) so its most useful in an environment where an admin maintains a corporate address book.
The SoGo Connector extension adds support for remote DAV address books, and features that are meant to be used with the Lightning extension (a calendar). It supports GroupDAV and CardDAV. The SoGo Integrator extension adds additional features such as remote administration of folder subscriptions, automatic propagation of updates to selected extensions from a local update server and automatic propagation of default settings that are useful when Thunderbird is used in an organization.
GCALDaemon: GMail contacts as pseudo-LDAP
This article describes how to autocomplete email addresses that you type when composing a message with email addresses from your Gmail address book, without having to keep your Thunderbird address book in synch with the Gmail address book. GCALDaemon has a built-in LDAP server that runs in the background to search your Gmail address book for addresses. It only supports autocompletion, you can't use it to access other other contact information or to modify any of the entries.
This article describes how to share address books by running a Miru directory server in a VMware player on one PC. Its basicly a preconfigured combination of a LDAP server with a web server to let you both add and update the address book entries, that runs as a virtual appliance. You can also add entries within Thunderbird (using the miru directory server extension). This forum thread has more information about the extension and some configuration issues.
Note: The add-on is still available but the links to the developers web site and the instructions are broken due to the "New Novell Developers site". It has nothing about Miru. The add-on only supports Thunderbird 2.*. This seems to be an abandoned project.
The SyncKolab extension synchronizes your contacts as well as events and todos (from the selected calendar) with a selected IMAP folder. You do not need a calendar if all you want to do is synchronize your address book.
If you want to share the address book with other users you could use a public folder. IMAP supports the concept of public folders, though not every e-mail provider supports them.
Thunderbird 3.0 is supposed to be able to read from the OSX System address book. See this bug report and this forum thread for more information, including a download link for a modified version of Thunderbird 220.127.116.11. Eudora b4 (released Oct 31, 2008) defaults to enabling the OS X System address book.
Integrate with a CRM
Thunderbird doesn't support Extended MAPI so integration with a customer relationship manager (CRM) frequently requires an extension written specifically for Thunderbird.
Mozilla Add-ons has:
- Archive mail in SuperOffice CRM software from Thunderbird
- civicrm mailing
- WICE Thunderbird Connector
Others solutions can be found via CRM to LDAP support, then connecting your Thunderbird on the LDAP. Some CRM does not provide in-house LDAP storage but you can find some plugins doing the job for you:
Some of the add-ons on the Mozilla Add-ons web site are experimental or only support Thunderbird 2.x. Sometimes if you disable version checking per Updating add-ons that will let you use it with later versions of Thunderbird. It depends upon what API's the extension calls.
Some CRM's such as Maximizer prefer to use Extended MAPI but can work with just SimpleMAPI support. In that case you will only see the Inbox in the Maximizer's E-mail window but it will also log what you send in the contacts Documents tab. The main problem relying upon Thunderbird's SimpleMAPI support is it is poorly supported (still buggy and incomplete). Its safe to rely upon it working with Microsoft Office applications, anything else is a calculated risk. It might break when you upgrade.
Another possibility is that it can be integrated via a Funambol server. This article describes how to Synchronize Opentaps and Mozilla Thunderbird.
If your CRM doesn't integrate with Thunderbird you might try configuring it to automatically BCC your dropbox address etc. so that outgoing and incoming emails appear on the contact timeline as this article about Pearl integration with Thunderbirddescribes.
Sync with a database
Hedera Contact Sync syncs address books with CouchDB. It currently supports Thunderbird 3.1 and has a status bar icon to show that that Hedera is loaded, an About dialog and a preferences dialog to allow you to toggle debug output to the Error Console at run time. 
- Synchronizing mail on two computers
- Synchronizing PDAs and phones
- Using Outlook Express contacts with Thunderbird
- Mozillazine thread on using junction points
- Junction - freeware to create junction points
- Create a hard link to a file using fsutil
- Changing "abook.mab" and "history.mab" file path locations bug report
- Experimental Contacts add-on. Mozilla Messaging plans on eventually adding its functionality to Thunderbird after they've gotten enough feedback.
- Thunderbuddy: Weave-synchronized Thunderbird contacts on Android
- AddTo Miru Directory server add-on
- Contacts Sidebar add-on can also "Automatically populate LDAP address books with a user-defined search query"
- Write to ldap addressbook - Thunderbird 3.01 Alpha
- Sharing an Address Book via an LDAP Server using Mozilla Thunderbird Versions 1.0 and 1.5RC2
- An OpenLDAP addressbook/directory for Thunderbird
- LDAP address book download bugzilla bug report
- Make LDAP entries editable bugzilla bug report
- Mozilla LDAP schema
- MailNews:LDAP Address Books
- LDAP support - MDC (includes LDAP schema table and how to enable listing LDAP attributes in auto-complete]
- Featuretracker on official Mozilla LDAP schema extension
- SyncCGP extension - A contacts synchronizer between Thunderbird and Communigate Pro, loosely based on SyncKolab.