While there aren’t a lot of full-feature email and calendar alternatives to Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla’s Thunderbird comes close, and it’s free. The thing is, Thunderbird doesn’t have a calendar by default. Lightning is a free add-on that brings in a full-feature calendar and task system, similar to what you would find in Outlook. Lightning can pull down and sync with Google calendar, Exchange, and other calendars. Follow along as we take a quick tour of it.
Lightning Calendar for Thunderbird
Lighting brings two new tabs to Thunderbird. A Calendar tab, and a Tasks tab. The two are interchangeable with one another, especially since any task can be converted to an event and vice versa. The calendar view also shows events, the date, and multiple different views of as many calendars as you need to add.
Adding events to the calendar is easy. The New Event window offers empty spaces for all of the details, times, reminders, invitations, and any other info you might need to attach to it. You can also choose whether to make events public or private (depending on where your calendar syncs from).
The Task pane is less cluttered and simple, and you’ll notice that the sidebar now contains calendar Events. Adding a new tasks just involves typing it in, and then pressing the New Task button.
Unlike calendar events, tasks can have priorities, progress, and completion marked. Tasks can also be postponed, or transferred to a different calendar with ease.
Reminders can be set to go off at any duration desired prior to an event, or, when dealing with tasks, if the task isn’t completed. These reminders can be snoozed for a specific amount of minutes like an alarm clock, or it can be dismissed.
Within the Options tab the calendar offers a place to change default settings for reminders and other settings. This is particularly useful if you want Tasks to automatically have an alarm attached each time one is created.
When you combine all of the powerful features found in Thunderbird’s Lighting add-on, and its free price tag, it gives Microsoft Outlook solid competition. The calendar is effective, intuitive, and it doesn’t hog system resources on the computer it is running on. The main downside is that Lightning doesn’t work with the beta channel of Thunderbird, so you won’t be able to test the latest and greatest version with it. But if you’re happy running the most recent stable release, Lightning may be a calendar system worth checking out.