Sync Google Hangouts with Thunderbird

Hangouts thunderbird sync

        This is going to be more of a techy article, however I recently discovered (a few minutes ago actually) that there is a way to sync Google Hangouts with Thunderbird. Google Searches didn’t find anything relevant for me on the topic, so in order to get this information out there for people who are in the same situation I was a moment ago, I’m writing this tutorial.

        There’s nothing more awesome than having all of the services you frequently use in one place – Email, Calendar, Chats, etc.
You can easily search and find information on how to sync your Mail Client with your Email Provider, a tiny bit less easily you can find out how to sync your Calendar with your Desktop and it appears that it’s somewhat hard to find how to sync a chat service with Mail Clients that support chat. Perhaps that’s because less people actually need it or are aware they need it. Whichever case, I believe that if you’re working in an office environment and you frequently use Email and Chat, you would prefer to have them in one place. Wouldn’t you agree?

Of course you could always use a browser, go to mail.google.com to open up your Gmail and you’ll have Hangouts right there, but if you’re not the type of person that likes using a web browser for email and prefer using something like Thunderbird, then continue reading!

However, before I proceed any further, please keep in mind that there are some pretty huge Cons to the built-in chat of Thunderbird, which may be a deal-breaker for most of you.Here’s a list of what I’ve found that Thunderbird Chat doesn’t quite handle + a bit of a rant:

  • Just a few emojis! Looks like there are only the basic emojis – 🙂 🙁 😀 . I’ve noticed that there are some third-party Add-Ons which offer a bigger emoji palette, however I haven’t tested them out.
  • Less than a minimalistic interface! There’s nothing more than 5 white fields in the Chat section of Thunderbird. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of minimalism, however that just looks like someone who just started out created it.Thunderbird chat section
  • NO FILE TRANSFER!! There doesn’t seem to be a way to transfer any type of files. I actually received a sticker from Hangouts and it came as a link. This one was almost a deal-breaker even for me, however since I’m using Google Hangouts just to chat with a former co-worker, I kept it running. Looks like the only way to transfer files or images is to upload them to a storage site such as Google Drive or Drop Box and then send the person a link.
  • Awkward UX. You cannot start a conversation by just clicking on a Contact’s name and start typing. When you click on the name of the person you want to send a instant message to, you’ll be presented with your past conversation first. To start a new conversation with the said person, you need to double-click on their name or the “Start a conversation..” button on the bottom.
  • Old conversations don’t appear in the newly synced Thunderbird! So it looks like that the old conversations you’ve had on Google Hangouts or even another Thunderbird mail client, WILL NOT SYNC with a newly set up Thunderbird. Imagine that you have everything synced on your Desktop PC and on your Laptop. You’re talking with your co-workers or friends using the Desktop PC and you have to leave to grab coffee or something. You get your Laptop, sit down somewhere and want to continue where you left off, well… you can’t do that! You won’t be able to see the previous conversation you’ve had with that person. Either you’ll have to remember everything you’ve talked about (which would be a good memory exercise but that’s not the point right now) or you’ll have to ask them to copy and paste what you’ve talked about last. Needless to say the latter would be quite inconvenient if you were chatting with a potential client (oh, the cringe).

Now that I look at it, there isn’t much good to say about syncing Google Hangouts with Thunderbird. Probably that’s the reason why it’s difficult to find a tutorial on Google Search. Nevertheless, the information needs to be out there for people to find! So basically if you’re looking for something more modern, something that’s a little bit more eye-candy, something that’s really practical – then syncing your Thunderbird client with Google Hangouts isn’t what you’re looking for and you can stop reading here. However, if you don’t really care about that stuff and you just need to have text conversations with just a few emojis – then by all means carry on reading!   It’s worth mentioning that if you have 2-Step Verification on your Google Account, you will need to either Generate an App Password or turn off the 2-Step Verification. Here’s a Google Help Center article on how to Generate an App Password if you have 2-Step Verification. If you’d like to Turn Off your 2-Step Verification, here’s how.

        Alright, so let’s say that you already have your emails synced with Thunderbird. What you need to do to sync your Google Hangouts chat is:

  • Open up Thunderbird;
  • Click on your Google Account name on the left side;
  • Under Accounts you should see the option Create a new account. There you should have four options: Email, Chat, Newsgroups, Feed;

Thunderbird Account Settings

  • Click on Chat and you should see four options which to choose from – Google Talk, IRC, Twitter, XMPP;

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(Note: typically Google Talk is different from Google Hangouts, however that’s what we need to pick in order to sync Google Hangouts chat)

  • After you select Google Talk > hit Next;
  • In the Username section make sure that you add your FULL Email Address (especially if you’re using G Suite);
  • Type in your Password;
    • If you have Generated an App Password, you need to use that instead of your real one;
  • Pick an Alias. An alias is basically the name that will show whenever you’re using Hangouts on Thunderbird;
  • Next;
  • Finish;
  • Done!

Personally I would love to see improvements on the Thunderbird Chat. As I mentioned in the beginning of this article, the most amazing thing is to have everything in one place. As of recently I’m not that big of a fan of the Gmail interface. I have always wondered why people would choose to use a Mail Client. Ever since I synced the Mail App on my Macbook, I prefer using Mail Clients on all of my machines.

Well, hope this helps some lost soul out there, thanks for reading!

Cheers!ArcanumEX Logo

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