Back to article

Migrating from Outlook to Mozilla Thunderbird in Linux (part 2)

Adding Lightning to Thunderbird

February 23, 2009

Last week, we began the migration from Outlook in Windows to Thunderbird in Linux. We transferred over the basic data to the open source email client. Now we'll install a calendar, task manager, and note feature. We'll also figure out how to export our existing Outlook data and import it into Thunderbird. Lastly, we'll set up auto signatures. Let's get started!

Using the Lightning add-on: a calendar and task manager

If you want a calendar and task manager in Thunderbird, you can use Lightning by Mozilla Calendar Project. Simply visit the Lightning web page and download the .xpi file. Then in Thunderbird, click Tools > Add-ons, click the Install button, select the extension file, and then click the Install Now button. Very similar to that of Outlook, Lightning adds a Calendar and Tasks icon or tab onto the email client. You can save appointments to the Calendar, plus create tasks or to-do lists. Also consider using the Google Calendar extension, which lets you view and edit your calendar online and in Thunderbird. Plus you can use Google's features to share it, among other neat things.

To export the Calendar data in Outlook, you don't use the Import and Export Wizard. Though finding the way to get the data extracted isn't very obvious, it's very simple to do. Simply click the Calendar tab in Outlook and click File > Save As. Then you can save it to the iCalendar (.ics) format. You'll probably want to click the More Options button to specify exactly what you want to export.

Now move to Thunderbird and click the Calendar icon. You have a few ways to go about importing the Outlook calendar data. If you want the data to be completely integrated´┐Ż within the Lightning/Thunderbird calendar, you want to click File > Import Calendar and select the ICS file. Alternatively, you can link to the calendar file and it will appear as a separate calendar. When multiple calendars exist, you can show/hide the associated appointments and information for each individual calendar. This is useful, for example, to help separate your work and personal schedule. Just remember that this is linking to the file, so you can't delete it; place the file in a safe spot. To import/link the data as a separate calendar, click File > Open > Calendar File and select the ICS file. Another way is to use the Create a New Calendar wizard by right-clicking in the white space area of the calendar list and selecting New Calendar. On the wizard dialog, select On the Network and click Next. Next select the iCalendar format and type the full qualified path, such as file:/home/egeier/Desktop/calendarfile.ics, into the Location field.

If you used the Tasks feature in Outlook and want to export them as well, you must use a third-party tool to extract the data from Outlook. I used PIMescapeOL. Once you download the zip file, extract it and run the HTML Application (.hta) file. It should automatically detect the Outlook data. You are most interested in the Todos (Tasks) that it detects. It will indicate the amount of detected entries. If you already imported your calendar, you might not want to select anything for Reminders (Events); the same goes with Contacts for the address book. However, if you haven't dealt with these items yet, you can include them to save you time. Once you have the iCalendar (.ics) file compiled, take it to the Thunderbird PC and import it just like explained in the calendar section. If loaded as a separate calendar, you can also toggle this on and off to help better differentiate between your task categories or between different users.