In my last post about comparing Outlook w/Thunderbird, I noted that one of the edges Thunderbird has is the huge extensions library that’s available online. Of course with the number comes the challenge of choosing which ones you should use. Based on my personal usage, I’ve got a few extensions that work well for me. Here’s the list and I’ll explain a bit about what each one does.
It’ll be easier if I group them so:
- Provider for Google Calendar
These 3 allow for excellent integration with GMail. Thunderbird is just the messaging client. With Lighting you add on the calendar and task list features. The provider for Google Calendar allows you to integrate this offline calendar with your online Google Calendar. The cool thing is that this is a two-way sync; updates on either side are reflected. The help that’s on the extension site is very clear and to the point. You’ll have no trouble setting this up.
Zindus allows you to sync your Google contact list with your “Personal Address book” in Thunderbird. Again, this is a two-way sync and I’m always amazed to find that a contact I update on Zindus shows up almost immediately on my Android phone!
- QuickNote – a note taking tool. I installed it, but haven’t really put it to good use.
- Thunderbird Conversations – I’m a big fan of conversations view in Google and Outlook, so with this tool, I’m satisfied. It does sometimes miss mails that were forwarded, so there’s room for improvement, but otherwise a fairly good tool.
- Duplicate Contacts Manger – Frankly, I’m disappointed in this one. It should be renamed to Duplicate Contact Finder. There’s really no management here.
- random (signature) – Absolutely fabulous tool. However, the help can be a bit confusing and needs one to read through it a couple of times. As the name indicates, this tool allows you to include a random signature from a chosen set. You can configure it so that the signatures change periodically (measured in seconds).
Configuring random (signature)
Once installed go to the Add-Ons screen and choose options for this tool. Click New to create your first signature.
You’ll find that this menu has 3 parts:
- Signature source
- Signature target
- Signature options
The way this tool works is as follows. The Signature source is where your signature collection exists. Our tool chooses a signature from this “source”.(We’ll get to explaining the options here in a minute) The random signature is written to the Signature target, with the options you’ve chosen. The target file that you create here is the one you should use as your signature file in your Account Settings.
Once you set it up, your outgoing emails will now attach your randomly chosen signatures automatically.
Your signature source can be of two types, a fortune cookie file or a directory that contains text files, each with a signature. The directory bit is easy, you just take your signatures and store them into individual text files and point the tool to that directory.
A fortune cookie file is simple, and the tool has an example showing how you can structure it. Here is the context of my file:
"Do or do not. There is no ‘try’."
As you can see, each quote is separated by a ‘%’ sign on a blank line. Easy eh?
Signature Options is quite cool. Since you’re likely going to have some common bits in all your signatures (email, phone #, etc.) you need only put them in the signature options area. Prefix is the area that comes just before the signature and suffix after. So if I were to put “Hello” in the prefix and “Bye” in the suffix, the signature would appear as
”Nothing will work unless you do”
— Maya Angelou
Good luck with this awesome and free tool!