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Introduction to Thunderbird, part 6, installing add-ons (and Lightning!)

OK, so now we've come a fair bit along the way of getting to know Thunderbird.  But some of the best still remains.. :)

It is possible to change how Thundebird works and/or add new functionality, through the use of add-ons.  Add-ons are readily available in Thunderbird, and now I will show you a bit about installing add-ons, as well as using an add-on (in this case Lightning, a full-featured calendar solution that plugs into Thunderbird).

Let's get started..  we start with the initial Thunderbird view and getting to the add-ons tab:


Thunderbird, tools menu, selecting add-ons


Above you first select the Tools menu, and then click on add-ons.  If the menubar with Tools etc. isn't visible, try pressing down F10 on the keyboard and it should appear.


Thunderbird, add-ons screen, Lightning highlight


Click on the Lightning (highlighted) and the following screen appears:


Thunderbird, add-ons screen, about to install Lightning


Click on the green "Add to Thunderbird" button, and the following should appear (if it doesn't, don't worry and go to the next step):


Thunderbird, confirm installation of add-on


Wait for the countdown to finish and it will be possible to click on "Install now".  Press "Install Now".  When the add-on is installed, the screen should appear as below, and you can restart Thunderbird to have it working with the new add-on.


Thunderbird, add-on installed, click to restart Thunderbird with add-on working screen


And here's how the initial view of Thunderbird with the Lightning Calendar add-on should look, in the area to the right that is highlighted:


Thunderbird, initial view with Lightning calendar installed and enabled


You can press on the icon Thunderbird, calendar icon in the upper left of the highlighted area.  This will bring up the calendar in full view, as seen here:


Thunderbird full calendar view, add event and add task highlighted


I've highlighted the add Event and add Task buttons.  First, let's press on the add Event button and this screen should appear:


Thunderbird, calendar add event view


Here you can enter various information about the event you want to add. I've set the Title (subject), nothing on Location and selected the Business category.  Calendar: Home is the default calendar (you can add more, but more about that in another article).  The event needs a start and an end, and repeat/reminder we'll cover later.  Description is whatever else you need to jot down about the event, that is useful to keep with the event.  OK - so enter your info and press "Save and Close".

Next up we'll add a task.  Press on the add Task button, and the following window should appear:


Thunderbird, calendar add task view


The Title is a short description of the task, Location isn't set, nor is category.  Calendar: Home is again the default calendar, and we set a start and end date and time for the task.  I was adding this task as I was working on it, so "In Process" was set as status, and I guess I was about 40% complete when I entered this task.  Again we have repeat and reminder, this time I'm setting a reminder 5 minutes before the task begins.

OK, so press "Save and Close" and Thunderbird should look something like this with the calendar view:


Thunderbird, calendar full view with task and event


As you see, I've highlighted the event and task we've added.  You can explore a bit more yourself, try for example to right-click on the event or task and you'll get some options.

OK, that's it for this article, hope you found it fun, interesting and useful. :)

This is the sixth article in a series about Thunderbird, if you have Thunderbird-related topics you want covered here, let us know. Comments on this article, thumbs up or flames, can be sent to If you need help using Thunderbird, we recommend using the Thunderbird forums.

If you know a language or languages besides English and would like to translate these articles, let us know via as well. :)

Click here to go to the next article, about message filters and mailing lists.