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Linux offers several free calendar and email organizers. The two most popular ones are Thunderbird and Evolution. Thunderbird is made by the same people who make the excellent Firefox web browser. I prefer Evolution because it comes with a calendar as part of the package. With Thunderbird, we have to install a separate calendar. However, Evolution is having problems right now integrating with Google Calendar and Google Contacts. Also, Thunderbird is multiplatform in that it can also be used by people who are stuck for whatever reason with a Windows computer. We will therefore use Thunderbird and the Lightning Extension. We do not even need to install Thunderbird because it comes loaded in Linux Mint by default. In other words, Thunderbird is likely to work well with Linux Mint because the Linux Mint group checks with each version to make sure they work together. To install the Lightning extension, open the Mint Software Manager and type the word lightning into the search box. Then click on XUL EXT Lightning to open it. Then click Install.


Go to the Mint Menu and find Thunderbird under the Internet tools. Then right click on it and select Add to Panel. Then right click on the icon in the bottom panel and click Move to move it to the hidden left panel. Then click on the icon to open it. It begins by asking you if you would like a new email address.


Click Skip and use my existing email.


Enter your email address and password. You can use any email address. However, Thunderbird is most likely to be able to import your contacts if you use a Gmail email address. Then click Continue. Then click Done. Then enter your email password again.

Then click Allow. Assuming you have downloaded the Lightning Extension, the following screen will show asking you if you want to create a new calendar.


Click Create a New Calendar.


You then get to give your calendar a name. You can have more than one calendar. Here we will create our personal calendar. Type in a name and click Next.


Then click Next to store your calendar on your computer. Then click Finish. Thunderbird offers lots of information on how to use Thunderbird and Lightning. Here is a link to the Lightning information.

We will review just a few of the most important functions. From the initial screen, you can click on Inbox on the far left side to bring up your emails.


Or you can click on the three bards on the right side to bring up the Thunderbird Menu. Click on the three bars. Then click Events and Tasks. Then click Calendar.


This will display our calendar with the daily view:


There are three panels. The calendar overview is on the left, the time period is in the middle and the list of tasks is on the right. To go back and forth between the email organizer and our calendar, click on the Inbox tab for the email organizer and the Calendar tab for the calendar.

To make it easier to set up the calendar, click on the three bars again. This time select Preferences, Menu Bar.


This will display a menu at the top of the page that remains the same whether we are using the email organizer or the calendar.


In this main menu, click on Edit Preferences.


For the General tab, change the search engine from Bing to Yahoo and uncheck Play a Sound. Then click on the Calendar tab.


You can change the Upcoming section to show fewer or more than 5 days. Then click on the Reminders tab.


Uncheck Play a Sound. Then turn on the Event and Task reminders and increase the notice time to 60 minutes. Then click on the Categories tab.


Click Add to add a new category. We will add a category called Classes.


Click OK. We can also remove categories by clicking on them. Then click Remove.


Then click on the Views tab:


We will change the week to start on Monday at 7 am, end at 7 pm and show 12 hours at a time. Then click Close. Then in the Menu, click View Calendar Week.


Click on Multiweek to display 4 weeks at a time.


Click month to show the current month.


To go to the next month, in the top menu, click Go, Next, Month. You can also just click the arrows to the right or left of the word Today at the top of the calendar. Also in the top menu, click on Events and Tasks to have a Task List replace the calendar. You can then go back and forth between your calendar and your Tasks list by click on the tabs at the top of the page.


Click on Tools, Address Book to bring the Address book up in a new window.


Close this window to close the Address book. Then click on New Event in the upper right corner to create a new event for our calendar.


Give the event a title and a location. Then select a category.


Also set the beginning and end time for the event and give it a brief description. Then click Save and Close.


The event will now show up on our list of events which is above the calendar and show up in the calendar. Hover over the event to bring up the event details. Right click on this calendar entry to add it to your list of tasks. You can also right click on a Task to add it to your calendar.


Click Convert to. Then select Task. Then review the task window. Then click Save and Close. Then click on the Tasks Tab at the top of the window to bring up your list of Tasks.


Improve the Calendar View
The multiweek and month views make it difficult to see exactly what is happening on any given day.


Click on the X in the Task column to hide it improves the view only slightly. We can hide the minicalendar by selecting the border between the calendar and the mini-calendar. This gives the dates more room to display the event titles:


To exit Thunderbird, just click the X at the top of the window. This concludes our review of setting up a calendar, task and email organizer in Linux. In the next section, we will describe how to add a couple of screen recording tools for sharing screen casts with friends and students.
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