Sync Android Phone Contacts with Thunderbird on local computer without using Google Contacts

With the Android phone, I was surprised to find that any synchronization of contacts information between the phone and a PC, needs to be done via the Internet through Google contacts. Many of us would be uncomfortable providing the contact details of other people to some server on the Internet. There have been instances where some people have told me that they synchronization the birthdays of their contacts to Google Contacts, and were surprised that their contacts were wished a Happy Birthday from the Google Contact list. Unfortunately, the people failed to visit their Google Account Settings and uncheck the option that did so. Anyway, the below is a result of awareness of data privacy and the need to protect contacts’ privacy.

Here is the method you can follow. Before trying it out, make sure you take a backup of your computer’s contact list.

1 Make sure you disable contacts synchronization on the Android phone. On your phone:
1. Goto Apps -> Settings -> Accounts and Sync
2. Leave Background data checked.
3. Uncheck Auto-sync for all d
4. Scroll down and go to Manage accounts. You will see your primay gmail account.
5. Make sure Sync Contacts, Sync GMail and Sync Calendar are unchecked.
2 Next, click on Apps -> Settings -> Privacy. Uncheck Back up my data.
Next, click on the Contacts Icon -> Menu button -> More -> Settings -> Save new contacts to and choose Phone.
3 Now that you disabled the synchronization of your data to a Google server, you are ready to install the software required to enable you to locally synchronize contacts from Thunderbird to the Android Phone. Note this works well over a Wireless LAN. Both your computer and your phone must be on your wireless LAN network.
4 Visit Download This tool written by the author on that page is the saviour for the day for those of us who do not wish to synchronize contact lists over the internet. Once you have downloaded the apk file, copy it to your Android phone SD Card.
5 Download This is the Thunderbird Addon. It says it only works with Thunderbird 12, but I tried on Thunderbird 17 and am okay with the results. Download the file and rename the .EXE file as a .xpi file. It should be this name AndroidContactsSync.xpi.
6 Once you have done that, start up Thunderbird. Click on the menu option Tools -> Addons. On the Add-ons Manager tab, you will see a Search box on the top. Click the icon “Tools for all add-ons”. Select Install add-on from file and choose the above AndroidContactsSync.xpi add-on file.
Select Preferences against the add-on Android Contacts Sync 2.1. Note the key. It says “Thunderbird”. The port should be 4040.
7 Now, run the application “Thunderbird AB Sync free” on your phone. Click on the Settings button -> Connection button. Enter your computer’s IP address or host name in the field that says “Enter machine name/IPaddress running Thunderbird”. Leave the port as 4040. Check Scan for Thunderbird. Enter the IP address of your computer in “Enter IP Addresses to scan”. Lastly make sure the key is Thunderbird. Click the OK button.
8 To sync your phone with the Thunderbird address book, you need to start Thunderbird on your computer. Start the WiFi connection on your phone. Click on the Thunderbird AB Sync free application on the phone. Click on the “Group/Address Book Sync” button. Click on Add button and select the address group to sync. This should be the same as that of your Thunderbird Address Group. I had “Personal Address Book”. Once you select the address group required, you can choose Sync or Export or Import. Importing will import your Thunderbird address book from your computer. Sync will synchronize it with the contact list of your phone. I chose Import initially and then changed that to Sync. You can also choose Sync only.

Now that this setup is done, you can click on the Sync Button on the main screen of the “Thunderbird AB Sync free” application.In case you have issues during Sync, such as duplicates, or a break down in communication, you can delete all Contacts from the phone and click on “Reset Sync Data” button in the “Thunderbird AB Sync free” application main screen. Similarly, make sure you click on the Thunderbird -> Tools -> Reset Android Contacts Sync data option in Thunderbird on your desktop. You can re-run the sync.

After a few hassles understanding how the application and the add-on work, I was able to set up the synchronization. You can obtain the paid version of Thunderbird AB Sync free application from the Google Play store for your phone, if you like it and are happy using it.

The above method worked well on Ubuntu Linux. It has not been tested on Windows by me, but it should work there as well.

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