Syncing Thunderbird to Android with MyPhoneExplorer

September 28, 2016 at 8:03 pm | Posted in Computers, Internet, Software, Technology | 14 Comments
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Perhaps you’re a little old school like me – you prefer to use an email client like Thunderbird to manage your mail, contacts and schedule rather than using web tools. While webmail is great for traveling, it has serious limitations if you’re managing several email accounts and a lot of traffic.

You may also not be a fan of sharing your entire life with web tools that browse your information for marketing hooks. Yet it would be nice to have your Contacts and Calendar synced with your Android phone. While Google and similar tools make doing that easy, it’s always under their watchful eye.

The solution is to sync your computer and phone directly. Recently I ran into a nifty little tool called MyPhoneExplorer. Originally developed for Ericsson phones, they added Android support.

It allows syncing your address books with your phones, includes a Calendar view for various desktop calendars, and allows browsing your text messages, call logs, file system and various other more geeky things. It also allows syncing to multiple phones. (feature summary)

The focus of this article is syncing Windows Thunderbird Contacts and Lightning Calendar with your Android phone Contacts and Calendar.

You can connect with your phone via USB, WiFi or Bluetooth.
My Desktop doesn’t have bluetooth.

I routinely connect my G4 via USB to download pictures. However, this requires 2 extra things:
– An ABD driver but these have signing issues with recent versions of Windows.
– turn on Developer Options in Android. This is now somewhat hidden. For example, on the G4, it’s Settings, General, About Phone, Software info. Tap Build Number 5-6 times (it offers a countdown). This turns on Developer Options in the General Menu. Theres a switch to turn it off again inside the above. The FJSoft forum has links for other phones, drivers, etc.

Thus, in my case, the easy choice was Wireless.

I didn’t find detailed instructions for this Setup so I thought it worth going over what I did here.

Best to back up your phones contacts and Thunderbird before you do this, in case anything goes awry.

1) Download and install MyPhoneExplorer for your PC.
(There’s a portable option during setup but this doesn’t have the desired sync abilities)

2) In Play Store, install MyPhoneExplorer Client on your phone. The maker mentions it may install with first use of the desktop software, but I’d recommend this approach.

3) In Thunderbird, install the MyPhoneExplorer extension in Tools, Add-ons. You’ll find it in the Program directory of #1 above. (called “mpe-addin.xpi”) It has one setting, if you use Event Categories.

4) On Android, connect to WiFi (with the same router and subnet as your PC)

5) Start the client app on Android. Add a wifi pin # when prompted.
review Settings for syncing (turn off Google sync, for example)

6) Start the desktop app on you PC. Enter the PIN when prompted (it asked once). Review File, Settings. Autodetect worked fine for me.

Review Settings, esp in Sync:
For Contacts, set to Thunderbird, then click Advanced. Select the Address Books you want synced. For example, you may NOT want Collected Addresses on your phone.
The => symbol marks the default Address Book where new Phone Contacts will be added to Thunderbird. You may want a new address book for that purpose.

The program automatically loaded some Contacts from Thunderbird right away but not always what I wanted. Thus I set it to Sync Thunderbird > Phone only at first. After setting which address books and resyncing, it cleaned up the ones I didn’t want. Before it syncs, review the changes being made. Don’t let it delete phone contacts you want, etc. Select the contact to see the 2 options.

After it synced the right Address Books, I changed it back to sync both ways. I found there was a little cleaning up to do. A few of my Thunderbird Contacts didn’t have First & Last Names, for example, so didn’t display right on the phone. And I use Groups in Android Contacts. Not all of those where set per the Thunderbird Address books. Finally, Android has a Main phone number setting not used by Thunderbird, so that doesn’t sync. Change those to Work or whatever and all will be well. After a little back and forth and resyncing, I had them matching and synced.

Again, set Thunderbird and click Advanced. You can sync Events and/or Tasks. Again as a test, I synced to phone only at first, then both ways.

Tune the sync range. You probably don’t need years of events on your phone. Time Period allows you to control it. You can also set if private events are synced.

Thereafter, Connect & Disconnect the phone using F1 on the Desktop
Then select Contacts or Calendar and click the Sync button. Review the changes and OK.

Now you have your Contacts matching and have your Calendar with you.

You’ll find the best results by entering most data in Thunderbird and syncing. Android apps are simplified, so will do things like put the entire street address on one line. But it’s still handy to save new phone numbers and sync those with the desktop.


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  1. Recently, the phone wasn’t connecting right.
    In “settings” of the phone client, choose “Standby-Mode”, Avoid.

    You can also put in the fixed IP, shown in the phone client. But I found the above was the fix. You may need to restart the software.


  2. Thank you, David, for streamlining this procedure. Perhaps soon, the Android OS will include a synchronization feature equivalent to that used with MS Outlook.


    • It’s possible, John. But tools like Thunderbird are now seen as old school. For quite some time, most added features have come from optional plugins rather than development. Happily, they do continue to debug and support it.


  3. Hello David, thank you for sharing your insights and clear steps to follow. I was excited about finding such a solution until I read on the FJ Software site that MyPhoneExplorer only works with Windows. Unfortunately, as a Mac user, I’m still hunting. If you come across anything that syncs Thunderbird with an Android smartphone, I’d love to hear about it!


    • Hi Sally
      Yes, MyPhoneExplorer is pretty niche. As noted, it was originally developed just for Ericsson phones. It doesn’t work with iPhones either, although they have their own weird thing with iTunes. It’s unlikely they’ll ever develop a Mac version.

      I’m unlikely to run into a Mac tool but will update if I do.


  4. Can’t find the MyPhoneExplorer extension for Thunderbird anymore.


    • Hi Leonard
      You’ll find the extension in the MyPhoneExplorer program directory. It’s called “mpe-addin.xpi”

      Seems I missed mentioning that detail in the instructions above. Will update. Thanks for bringing it up.


  5. David, thanks so much for this write up! Question – my phone client seems to only want to sync with my Google calendar, even though I have the Lightning calendar set up through the PC app. Is there a place to change the default calendar in the phone client?


    • Hi Namu
      I would check in File, Settings, Sync. I have it set to Thunderbird, then in Advanced, I have the calendar name in Lightning selected.
      Also, under the Sync pick list is “Calendars to sync” link. I do NOT have a gmail account selected. Just Phone and TBL. (gmail may then call the google calendar.)

      Hope that helps.


  6. David
    Thank you for this write-up on this sync manager.I have a question
    In calendar, For some reason only entree’s and calendar edits in Thunderbird are synced to my android.
    No entree’s and calendar edits from android come across back to Thunderbird.
    In File/settings/sync-calendar/advanced , “Sync both” is selected
    Any idea


    • Hi Hans
      Have not seen this. You might try clicking the reset button in Sync, Advanced. Your best bet may be to contact the developer at


      • the site also has a forum with answers to various questions.


  7. This worked fine but now when trying to sync the Thunderbird calendar the error message ‘loading entries from thunderbird failed’ comes up and it does not sync.


    • Hi Clive
      My first comment mentions an issue I had but otherwise, it’s worked reliably. If thats not the issue for you, check the forums on the site linked in the comments above this.


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