‘Cool Hacks: configure Thunderbird to work with your BlackBerry

29 Comments

Before I submitted to the mail client behemoth that is Outlook (or, more specifically, it’s purple Mac counterpart Entourage), I was a satisfied Thunderbird user. Unwilling to make the switch, however, a helpful member of the BlackBerry Nation has devised a way to integrate Thunderbird (on any other non-Outlook email client) with your BlackBerry in an Exchange fashion. Here’s a quick summary of the process.

Thunderbird is the primary email application that is used on a desktop to send, receive and file messages. Blackberry is a secondary email application that is used to send and receive email messages remotely. User needs to (1) use a single email address known to the outside world, (2) be able to receive and send email to and from this single email address from either the Blackberry or Thunderbird, (3) maintain a complete record in Thunderbird of all sent and received email (whether sent or received from the Blackberry or Thunderbird).

While it may sound like a MacGyver-esque process, we have the full instructions posted after the jump, in four quick steps. Post a comment and let us know if the solution works for you.

ThunderBird/BlackBerry Configuration Instructions:

    1. Select an External Email Address. Select an email address that will be used externally, i.e. the email address you provide to others on your business card or otherwise. For this example, we will use fred@flintstone.com.

    2. Configure Domain-Level Email Forwarding. Configure your domain-level email forwarding so that all incoming email addressed to fred@flintstone.com is forwarded to both a dedicated Blackberry address (fredflintstone@att.blackberry.net) and a dedicated Thunderbird address (fredthunderbird@gmail.com).

    3. Configure Blackberry. Configure the dedicated Blackberry address so that the “Reply to:” address is fred@flintstone.com and the “Auto BCC:” address is fredthunderbird@gmail.com.

    4. Configure Thunderbird. Configure Thunderbird to retrieve email from fredthunderbird@gmail.com; this will include incoming email sent to fred@flintstone.com as well as BCC email from the Blackberry. Configure Thunderbird so that the “Reply to:” address is fred@flintstone.com and the “Auto BCC:” address is fredflintstone@att.blackberry.net. Create a Thunderbird rule that is applied to all incoming email sent from fred@flintstone.com (which is BCC email from the Blackberry) that marks messages as “Read” and files them in the “Sent Items” folder.

  • Nedim

    So for most of us with custom domains there is an easier way:
    1. Set up your domain with Google Apps for free.
    2. You’re done, since both Blackberry and Thunderbird work with Google Mail for Apps out of the box. There is not need for convoluted forwarding and all the mail is in one spot.

    Don’t know about AT&T but T-Mobile lets you use the domain that is hosted by Google with your BIS (this doesn’t affect BES and works with or without it).

  • Nedim

    So for most of us with custom domains there is an easier way:
    1. Set up your domain with Google Apps for free.
    2. You’re done, since both Blackberry and Thunderbird work with Google Mail for Apps out of the box. There is not need for convoluted forwarding and all the mail is in one spot.

    Don’t know about AT&T but T-Mobile lets you use the domain that is hosted by Google with your BIS (this doesn’t affect BES and works with or without it).

  • Bill

    Wow. Thats a long way around! If you use gmail for everything here’s a catch-ALL solution for you.

    I previously used Outlook for email and contacts, and synced with my USB cable.

    Now, I do everything wirelessly. How you ask?

    I use Thunderbird for my email.
    Added Lightning 0.9 to it for calendar.
    Added Provider for Google Calendar 0.5.1 to sync with Google Calendar.
    Added Zindus 0.8.5 to sync with Google Contacts.
    Put Google Sync 0.5.13 on my Blackberry which syncs contacts and calendar.

    Now, when I make a change to my contacts OR my calendar in either place, it syncs in BOTH places. I LOVE IT!

  • Bill

    Wow. Thats a long way around! If you use gmail for everything here’s a catch-ALL solution for you.

    I previously used Outlook for email and contacts, and synced with my USB cable.

    Now, I do everything wirelessly. How you ask?

    I use Thunderbird for my email.
    Added Lightning 0.9 to it for calendar.
    Added Provider for Google Calendar 0.5.1 to sync with Google Calendar.
    Added Zindus 0.8.5 to sync with Google Contacts.
    Put Google Sync 0.5.13 on my Blackberry which syncs contacts and calendar.

    Now, when I make a change to my contacts OR my calendar in either place, it syncs in BOTH places. I LOVE IT!

  • lol

    It’s != its.

    Illiterate.

  • lol

    It’s != its.

    Illiterate.

  • Caspan

    Wow thats all i have to say is wow… what about contacts, tasks, notes sync??? Humm I guess email was the only point here. I stick with my BES and Exchange thank you :)

  • Caspan

    Wow thats all i have to say is wow… what about contacts, tasks, notes sync??? Humm I guess email was the only point here. I stick with my BES and Exchange thank you :)

  • Nedim

    @Caspan, contacts and calendar are easily synced to Google using Google Sync even on custom domain. I don’t mean to plug Google here, but for people without BES this stuff just works, is easy to set up, and maybe most importantly free!

    I’m on BES/Lotus for work, but use the above setup for personal stuff.

  • Nedim

    @Caspan, contacts and calendar are easily synced to Google using Google Sync even on custom domain. I don’t mean to plug Google here, but for people without BES this stuff just works, is easy to set up, and maybe most importantly free!

    I’m on BES/Lotus for work, but use the above setup for personal stuff.

  • Nedim

    @Caspan, contacts and calendar are easily synced to Google using Google Sync even on custom domain. I don’t mean to plug Google here, but for people without BES this stuff just works, is easy to set up, and maybe most importantly free!

    I’m on BES/Lotus for work, but use the above setup for personal stuff.

  • Nedim

    @Caspan, contacts and calendar are easily synced to Google using Google Sync even on custom domain. I don’t mean to plug Google here, but for people without BES this stuff just works, is easy to set up, and maybe most importantly free!

    I’m on BES/Lotus for work, but use the above setup for personal stuff.

  • http://chris-b-online.de/ chris-b

    You could also use an IMAP-Account and download e-mails for offline usage with thunderbird ;)

  • http://chris-b-online.de chris-b

    You could also use an IMAP-Account and download e-mails for offline usage with thunderbird ;)

  • http://blackberrythunderbird.blogspot.com/ Cal Sync

    Cool. Very easy instructions.

  • http://blackberrythunderbird.blogspot.com Cal Sync

    Cool. Very easy instructions.

  • josh

    just another update/thought. Gmail now offers off-line email capability. here’s the description within Gmail:

    “Make Gmail go where the Internet doesn’t. Access your inbox through your browser and use Gmail’s familiar features when you’re offline. To get started, enable this lab and then click on the “Offline” link in the upper-right of your inbox.”

    i don’t have a true use for this feature, but i just wanted to share with everyone in case you hadn’t heard.

  • josh

    just another update/thought. Gmail now offers off-line email capability. here’s the description within Gmail:

    “Make Gmail go where the Internet doesn’t. Access your inbox through your browser and use Gmail’s familiar features when you’re offline. To get started, enable this lab and then click on the “Offline” link in the upper-right of your inbox.”

    i don’t have a true use for this feature, but i just wanted to share with everyone in case you hadn’t heard.

  • josh

    just another update/thought. Gmail now offers off-line email capability. here’s the description within Gmail:

    “Make Gmail go where the Internet doesn’t. Access your inbox through your browser and use Gmail’s familiar features when you’re offline. To get started, enable this lab and then click on the “Offline” link in the upper-right of your inbox.”

    i don’t have a true use for this feature, but i just wanted to share with everyone in case you hadn’t heard.

  • http://mac.com/ Cuppidd

    I brought an unlock blackberry storm and got it working w/ my ATT sim card (1st Generation) which is on a pay as you go account. Which was removed from my iphone but the only features that works are the incoming and outgoing calls, and the text messages, How can I get my email working …i called ATT but they cant seem to help me because they say the blackberry storm program is not supported….can you help me?

  • http://mac.com Cuppidd

    I brought an unlock blackberry storm and got it working w/ my ATT sim card (1st Generation) which is on a pay as you go account. Which was removed from my iphone but the only features that works are the incoming and outgoing calls, and the text messages, How can I get my email working …i called ATT but they cant seem to help me because they say the blackberry storm program is not supported….can you help me?

  • Deborah A. Geier

    I bought a Blackberry Curve 8900 in February. As I am a tech novice, the
    guy at T-Mobile was kind enough to set it up with my earthlink e-mail (using Thunderbird) at the store. It worked perfectly for months on both the inbound and outbound sides–until recently. That is to say, when a message would
    come in to my e-mail account (earthlink on Thunderbird on my home
    laptop), it would also show up on my Blackberry. And when I replied to
    the e-mail on my blackberry, a copy (showing the content of the entire
    reply) would show up in my inbox on my computer with a tag line saying
    that it was sent from my Blackberry. This way, I had a record of every
    outgoing e-mail that I sent on my Blackberry. This is good, as the
    messages on my Blackberry periodically get erased. Everything was on my
    laptop, as well.

    I noticed about a week ago that I wasn’t getting any e-mail messages on
    my Blackberry. When I went on my laptop, there were a bunch of unread
    e-mails. So there was obviously something wrong. I went to the T Mobile
    store yesterday, and he did something that caused an e-mail message to
    show up from “Activation Server.” It said that if I am using an e-mail
    client like Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird, I need to change
    my settings to instruct it to leave my messages on the server. The
    message said, “If the email client does not leave email messages on the
    server, the Blackberry Internet Service may not be able to deliver them
    to your Blackberry device.” It then went on with specific instructions
    on how to do this. I followed them on Thunderbird, successfully finding
    the box that I needed to check to instruct that messages be left on the
    server until I delete them.

    Well, it worked beautifully in allowing INCOMING e-mail messages to once
    again show up on my Blackberry. But when I send a response on my
    Blackberry, I am no longer getting a copy to show up on my laptop, as
    used to happen routinely. I need copies of the responses to show up as
    they used to do. So I called T Mobile Blackberry and got someone who
    double checked that messages that I am sending out on my Blackberry are,
    indeed, getting sent out, but she had no idea how I can get my outgoing
    messages to once again show up on my laptop, as they used to do.

    Help! Can anyone tell me why it stopped? Why did things all of a sudden
    change when they were working so well? And how I can get my outgoing
    content (the entire message) to once again show up on my laptop e-mail,
    as it used to do? Everything worked so beautifully for months! I’m
    getting really frustrated trying to find someone who can help me…

  • Deborah A. Geier

    I bought a Blackberry Curve 8900 in February. As I am a tech novice, the
    guy at T-Mobile was kind enough to set it up with my earthlink e-mail (using Thunderbird) at the store. It worked perfectly for months on both the inbound and outbound sides–until recently. That is to say, when a message would
    come in to my e-mail account (earthlink on Thunderbird on my home
    laptop), it would also show up on my Blackberry. And when I replied to
    the e-mail on my blackberry, a copy (showing the content of the entire
    reply) would show up in my inbox on my computer with a tag line saying
    that it was sent from my Blackberry. This way, I had a record of every
    outgoing e-mail that I sent on my Blackberry. This is good, as the
    messages on my Blackberry periodically get erased. Everything was on my
    laptop, as well.

    I noticed about a week ago that I wasn’t getting any e-mail messages on
    my Blackberry. When I went on my laptop, there were a bunch of unread
    e-mails. So there was obviously something wrong. I went to the T Mobile
    store yesterday, and he did something that caused an e-mail message to
    show up from “Activation Server.” It said that if I am using an e-mail
    client like Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird, I need to change
    my settings to instruct it to leave my messages on the server. The
    message said, “If the email client does not leave email messages on the
    server, the Blackberry Internet Service may not be able to deliver them
    to your Blackberry device.” It then went on with specific instructions
    on how to do this. I followed them on Thunderbird, successfully finding
    the box that I needed to check to instruct that messages be left on the
    server until I delete them.

    Well, it worked beautifully in allowing INCOMING e-mail messages to once
    again show up on my Blackberry. But when I send a response on my
    Blackberry, I am no longer getting a copy to show up on my laptop, as
    used to happen routinely. I need copies of the responses to show up as
    they used to do. So I called T Mobile Blackberry and got someone who
    double checked that messages that I am sending out on my Blackberry are,
    indeed, getting sent out, but she had no idea how I can get my outgoing
    messages to once again show up on my laptop, as they used to do.

    Help! Can anyone tell me why it stopped? Why did things all of a sudden
    change when they were working so well? And how I can get my outgoing
    content (the entire message) to once again show up on my laptop e-mail,
    as it used to do? Everything worked so beautifully for months! I’m
    getting really frustrated trying to find someone who can help me…

  • Deborah A. Geier

    I bought a Blackberry Curve 8900 in February. As I am a tech novice, the
    guy at T-Mobile was kind enough to set it up with my earthlink e-mail (using Thunderbird) at the store. It worked perfectly for months on both the inbound and outbound sides–until recently. That is to say, when a message would
    come in to my e-mail account (earthlink on Thunderbird on my home
    laptop), it would also show up on my Blackberry. And when I replied to
    the e-mail on my blackberry, a copy (showing the content of the entire
    reply) would show up in my inbox on my computer with a tag line saying
    that it was sent from my Blackberry. This way, I had a record of every
    outgoing e-mail that I sent on my Blackberry. This is good, as the
    messages on my Blackberry periodically get erased. Everything was on my
    laptop, as well.

    I noticed about a week ago that I wasn’t getting any e-mail messages on
    my Blackberry. When I went on my laptop, there were a bunch of unread
    e-mails. So there was obviously something wrong. I went to the T Mobile
    store yesterday, and he did something that caused an e-mail message to
    show up from “Activation Server.” It said that if I am using an e-mail
    client like Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird, I need to change
    my settings to instruct it to leave my messages on the server. The
    message said, “If the email client does not leave email messages on the
    server, the Blackberry Internet Service may not be able to deliver them
    to your Blackberry device.” It then went on with specific instructions
    on how to do this. I followed them on Thunderbird, successfully finding
    the box that I needed to check to instruct that messages be left on the
    server until I delete them.

    Well, it worked beautifully in allowing INCOMING e-mail messages to once
    again show up on my Blackberry. But when I send a response on my
    Blackberry, I am no longer getting a copy to show up on my laptop, as
    used to happen routinely. I need copies of the responses to show up as
    they used to do. So I called T Mobile Blackberry and got someone who
    double checked that messages that I am sending out on my Blackberry are,
    indeed, getting sent out, but she had no idea how I can get my outgoing
    messages to once again show up on my laptop, as they used to do.

    Help! Can anyone tell me why it stopped? Why did things all of a sudden
    change when they were working so well? And how I can get my outgoing
    content (the entire message) to once again show up on my laptop e-mail,
    as it used to do? Everything worked so beautifully for months! I’m
    getting really frustrated trying to find someone who can help me…

  • Deborah A. Geier

    I bought a Blackberry Curve 8900 in February. As I am a tech novice, the
    guy at T-Mobile was kind enough to set it up with my earthlink e-mail (using Thunderbird) at the store. It worked perfectly for months on both the inbound and outbound sides–until recently. That is to say, when a message would
    come in to my e-mail account (earthlink on Thunderbird on my home
    laptop), it would also show up on my Blackberry. And when I replied to
    the e-mail on my blackberry, a copy (showing the content of the entire
    reply) would show up in my inbox on my computer with a tag line saying
    that it was sent from my Blackberry. This way, I had a record of every
    outgoing e-mail that I sent on my Blackberry. This is good, as the
    messages on my Blackberry periodically get erased. Everything was on my
    laptop, as well.

    I noticed about a week ago that I wasn’t getting any e-mail messages on
    my Blackberry. When I went on my laptop, there were a bunch of unread
    e-mails. So there was obviously something wrong. I went to the T Mobile
    store yesterday, and he did something that caused an e-mail message to
    show up from “Activation Server.” It said that if I am using an e-mail
    client like Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird, I need to change
    my settings to instruct it to leave my messages on the server. The
    message said, “If the email client does not leave email messages on the
    server, the Blackberry Internet Service may not be able to deliver them
    to your Blackberry device.” It then went on with specific instructions
    on how to do this. I followed them on Thunderbird, successfully finding
    the box that I needed to check to instruct that messages be left on the
    server until I delete them.

    Well, it worked beautifully in allowing INCOMING e-mail messages to once
    again show up on my Blackberry. But when I send a response on my
    Blackberry, I am no longer getting a copy to show up on my laptop, as
    used to happen routinely. I need copies of the responses to show up as
    they used to do. So I called T Mobile Blackberry and got someone who
    double checked that messages that I am sending out on my Blackberry are,
    indeed, getting sent out, but she had no idea how I can get my outgoing
    messages to once again show up on my laptop, as they used to do.

    Help! Can anyone tell me why it stopped? Why did things all of a sudden
    change when they were working so well? And how I can get my outgoing
    content (the entire message) to once again show up on my laptop e-mail,
    as it used to do? Everything worked so beautifully for months! I’m
    getting really frustrated trying to find someone who can help me…

  • Eldraw

    I have tried Bill’s recommendation but cannot get it to work. Please can he put a bit more detail on it. My Blackberry is a Curve 8900.

  • Eldraw

    I have tried Bill’s recommendation but cannot get it to work. Please can he put a bit more detail on it. My Blackberry is a Curve 8900.

  • Cobusvdl

    Thanks allot Bill !
    Makes my live allot easier!

  • MarkP

    It’s people like you that are keeping the interwebs a place worth living in.
    I was about to memorize a book and wander off into the forest.