Aug 2, 2008

Google Contacts FAQ

This post shows frequently asked questions and answers. Please read them before you ask me.

I've tried some features including Google's Contacts Data API, Thunderbird's address book API, E4X/XMLHttpRequest of JavaScript. They are all new for me. So, it may invoke some problems. Indeed, some bugs have been found and Google Contacts has been updated frequently. Please check the blog regularly and use the latest version. If you find bugs, please let me know error messages in the Config Editor and methods how to reproduce them.

1. It does not retrieve all contacts in Gmail.
It retrieve only about 25 contacts by default. If you have more contacts, set the maximum number of the contacts in the Google Contacts' option dialog. This limitation will be removed in v0.6.34.

2. It does not synchronize at all.
At first, verify there is at least one account checked in the Accounts Window from the options. Then authorize your accounts before you synchronize Thunderbird and Google It is done by clicking Reload button. If uncheck the "Load contacts at startup" option, you have to reload contacts manually before you modify address books.

3. It does not add contacts.
Duplicated email addresses are not allowed in Gmail. Confirm the address you want to add is unique.

4. What's the difference in the Interactive and Batch mode?
The interactive mode publish changes you did in Thunderbird to Gmail immediately . On the other hand, the batch mode does not publish them immediately. The changes are sumitted to Gmail only when you click the Reload button. I recommend you to use the interactive mode for daily use. Use the batch mode when you changes many cards and mail lists at once or you manage them offline.

5. Some groups are not mapped if several accounts are synchronized.
Thunderbird does not allow duplicated mail lists even if they are in different address books. So, if there are groups whose name is the same in accounts, only one of them is mapped and the others are ignored. It is due to a limitation of Thunderbird's database and I can do nothing about it.

6. Do I have to install your IMAP addon, Gmail IMAP Account Setup, too?
No. Gmail IMAP Account Setup is not needed for Google Contacts.

7. What fields are synchronized?
Only fields exist in both Thunderbird and Gmail. Fields only exist in Thunderbird are stored in Google's database so you can share them among Thunderbirds but you cannot see them in Gmail. See here following for the mapping.

8. No contact is retrieved after I deleted the address books created by the addon.
When you delete address books, the accounts to which the address books are bound are set not to synchronize anymore. If you want to synchronize them again, open the addon's option and check the accounts in the "Accounts" section. They will come back after you restart Thunderbird.

9. Where is the Reload button?
It is not added to a toolbar automatically. It exists in the toolbar palette of the both main (messenger) and address book windows. Please add it manually.

10. It sometimes fails to retrieve contacts.
A synchronization takes some times because it sends requests to Google and waits for replies. The time depends on the amount of data, your network conditions and load of Google. Please wait for a few minutes after it started to synchronize.

11. How can I reset it to the initial settings?
You cannot initialize it only by removing and reinstalling the addon. Please reset it as follows:
  1. Delete address books created by the addon
  2. Open the Config Editor
  3. Type gmcont in the filter
  4. You will see preferences starts with gmcont; Clear all of them by right-clicking a pref and choose "Reset"
  5. Restart Thunderbird

12. Does Google Contacts supports Shredder/Thunderbird3 beta?
It does not support Shredder and Thunderbird3 beta so far. And it will not work even if you install it by modifying install.rdf since APIs for address books are changed in Thunderbird3. I plan to start to implement when Thunderbird3 beta2 is released.
Test builds for Thunderbird3 Beta are available now. Please see the Thunderbird3 Compatibility Testing Thread and try the latest builds.

Now v0.6 or later support Thunderbird3.

13. Does Google Contacts supports Google Apps?
Yes, it does. But it cannot detect your Google Apps accounts automatically, not as it finds POP/IMAP Gmail accounts. So, after you install the addon, open the addon's option dialog and add your Google Apps accounts to the account section manually.

14. Why is a password needed to download Google Contacts?
Google Contacts is placed in the sandbox system in AMO, where experiment addons are stored. You have to sign up AMO account and login to download them. In order to push them into a public space, they have to be reviewed by AMO editors and be approved. I nominated for the review and am waiting for the approval. However, the review takes many times since many addons are waiting for the review.

Google Contacts becomes a public add-on. You can download it without an AMO account.

15. I cannot receive a update notification for Google Contacts.
As I wrote in the question 14, it stored in the sandox of AMO. You will get the notification after it is pushed to a public. Please wait until it is approved.


beagley said...

It seems to sync exactly 37 contacts no matter what I do. I have almost 400 contacts total in my gmail account. I have tried changing the settings, hitting reload, etc.

h.ogi said...

Please confirm the maximum number of contacts setting is more than 400. If it is set properly, please let me know the error message in the Eror Console; it may be a bug.

Martin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Martin said...

I definitely have my setting for the maximum contacts at zero, and it won't sync more than 25 or so. I have over 100 contacts shown in GMail.

h.ogi said...

Don't use 0 for the maximum. If you set it to 0, the add-on uses Google's default, which is around 30. So, you have to use 100 or more.

RDCushing said...

I keep getting a message that says, "A script on this page may be busy, or it may have stopped responding. You can stop the script now, or you can continue to see if the script will complete."

I have 2,50+0 contacts in Google Contacts and I have successfully loaded them on other machines.

Jan-Bennet said...

I added a new contact in thunderbird but don't get it sync'd to gmail contacts - y? :)

Wilhelm said...


I would just like to check something. I am getting messages telling me that the group that it is importing already exitst. I have read in the FAQ that this would happen if you have more than one google account with list that have the same name.

I was wonderng would something similar happen if you have two seperate accounts ( different mail servers ) with the same email address.

Jay said...

Excellent Sync Add-on - Thanks :)

Can this be fixed?:

- Thunderbird expects Firstname and Lastname to be populated - to form main "Name" entry in Address Book
- For Gmail contacts Add-on populates Display Name only.

Jay said...

Contacts added in Thunderbird are uploaded and Added to the Gmail "All Contacts" group - but are not added to the Gmail "My Contacts" group.

- this prevents new contact(s) added in Thunderbird being sync'd to other sync providers - eg. Gmail to Nokia Mail for Exchange sync.

Jay said...

- Sorry - figured it out now - In Thunderbird Add-on options you just need to set the group to "My Contacts".

Alex said...

Hi, excellent tool! Is there any chance to sync the Google COntacts field (birthday, month and year) and the according fields from thunderbird add-on "ThunderBirthDay" (

Vincenzo said...

mail list friends alredy exist. Mail list Friends in xxxxxxxxxxxx@gmail is not synchronized.

What i have to avoid the error message ?

Mark said...

Good idea...but needs work.

Causes Thunderbird to crash when I edit a contact. When Thunderbird reopens I now have 2 Google contact list.

BigBaaadBob said...

I have the same problem listed above. A dialog pops up saying "Mail list xyzzy already exists. xyzzy in is not synchronized." Sometimes thunderbird crashes after one of these dialogs. No contacts get synchronized at all.

melchisadeck said...


Great extension - works perfectly *almost* :)

My problem is that I've created 10 Google Contact Groups and distributed my contacts amongst them. The issue is that Thunderbird syncs only *one* of the 10 Contact Groups completely - all others are left with missing entries on Thunderbird.

I've set the max number of contacts to 500 in the extension (I have about 200 contacts) and I've tried destroying/recreating groups on Google and clearing the Google address book in Thunderbird - all to no avail.

I'm running Google Contacts 0.5.56 under Thunderbird on Linux Mint 7.

BTW because of this issue, I have to run the extension in "Read-Only" as it interferes with my contact groups on Google. It would be great if I could use Thunderbird to manage my contacts.

Thanks again for a great extension.


André said...

Very good plugin, unfortunately I do have the same problem as listed abobe:
"Mail list xxx already exists. xxx in is not synchronized."

Could you please fix that?

Anonymous said...

Hi H.Ogi

Nice add-on and worked flawlessly for me after setting up as mentioned here. However I need an additional feature which would make it perfect for me - ability to sync multiple numbers. Some of my contacts have multiple mobile nos and your add-on is discarding them entirely. Can this feature be implemented?



Anonymous said...

I'm having trouble seeing the "mobile" phone numbers. This field isn't being pulled from the Google contacts for me. Any ideas? I'm using the latest build installed in TB 3 B4 using IMAP to a Google Apps account.


Joy said...

I have the same Problem: "Mail list xxx already exists. xxx in is not synchronized."

Michael said...

Don't see my issue elsewhere here so I figured I'd ask:
The sync is nearly flawless except that the Address shows up in Gmail with only the first line (number and street name; no city, state, or zip). I tried screwing around with the address conversion - unchecked Adress2, changed delimiter, etc - but nothing worked so far.

Nicholas said...

Thank you for this excellent add on. I'm a newbie and am trying it for the first time.

For me it synchronized 1231 contacts. To a new addressbook in TB ( - Mac OS X 10.6.2). All looked well.

I then created a number of groups in TB which also synced and the standard groups from gmail appeared in the TB address book (family, collegues etc).

At the next automatic sync the groups vanished from the TB addressbook, are retained in the gmail contacts and no longer sync back to TB ?

The groups do not have the same names as groups in other TB address books.

Any suggestions ?

Siebo said...

For me it's the same as mentioned above. It just syncs the first line of the address (street name and number) but no zip code or city, even though the delimiter is chosen correctly (
) and the address is saved in that format at google contacts. another thing mentioned above is the not-synced mobile number. same for me. and the sync all togehter seems a little bit buggy. not all informations changed in thunderbird are immediately synced to google and vice versa. maybe someone could just explain to me, how this works and how long i have to wait for a sync. background for all of that is, that i sync my contacts with my iphone as well and i want to have a consistent contact-database among thunderbird, google and my iphone. thanks.

Sebastian said...

thanks for this nice add on!
i have syncronised my contacts form thunderbird adressbook. i have the problem that the lists in thunderbird shows me only entrys that have a email adress. if i have contacts that have e.g. only a phone number or a post adress thunderbird list do not show this contact. in the gmail account this contact is existing in the group. i think this is a problem in thunderbird, because it is actually only a mailing list. any ideas to solve the problem? for me this means i can use the list function only in gmail.

Sebastian said...

when i change the name of a entry in thunderbird it is not getting syncronised in gmail account. is it not possible to edit entrys in thunderbird and than sync.?

Anonymous said...

You talk about a "reload button". I can't find a reload button. Where is that?

h.ogi said...

Customize your toolbar. You'll find it in the palette.

Anonymous said...

Great add-on, but is it fully functional for Thunderbird 3.0.1? I can't upload changes/new contacts back to Google, and password manager keeps asking for my password altho I ticked it to remember several times.

Either way, at least I synced it Google=>TB, thanks.

Anonymous said...

thank you for the great addon. It werks perfekt in my th3.
But i have a little issue with the Reload Button. I only can but the Button Text under the icon. (like in Tb2) It is possible the put it next to the icon?
Here is a picture of my toolbar (german):

Tim Harris said...

Receieve error "mail list xxxxx alredy exist. Mail list xxxxx in xxxxxx@gmail is not synchronized.

Tim Harris said...

The above error message happened when after syncing address book successfully and restarting thunderbird 3. I get an error message for every group/mailing list. Hope the problem can be solved because this is a great tool.

Sarah Azurin said...

What happens to Tim Harris happens to my install of Google Contacts (v0.6) on Thunderbird (v3.0.2pre) Shredder too.

Dima said...

Hmm I'm getting:"
[JavaScript application]

Cannot connect. undefined: undefined
Help please? It does connect nor sync anything.... =(

luca.cerretani+ said...

"list already exists" popup problem. Is it possible to fix it?

Joy said...

still the old Problem: "Mail list xxx already exists. xxx in is not synchronized." Fresh System: Thunderbird 3.03 on Win7 with "Google Contacts"-Add-on 0.6

Joy said...

found: don´t use special characters like "~ new" in your listname.

Liam said...

Hi. I have set my maximum contacts to 400.
I have exactly 58 contacts and 4 groups. All groups are empty except for the group "My Contacts" which contains 58 contacts. I have my iPhone synced up to Google too.

After synchronisation Thunderbird has 62 contacts: 58 real contacts and 4 groups - perfect. However the Thunderbird list "My Contacts" only contains 11 contacts not 58 as I expected.

Any ideas? There are no errors, warnings or messages produced in the error console and I use the sync in a read only mode. Any help would be most welcome and appreciated.


Johannes said...

Hello h.ogi
Great work the Google Contacts plugin. Since Thunderbird support a Birthday Date might it be possible to sync it with Google? It would complete the great work you have already done.

Anonymous said...

Liam here again. Just an update to my last post. I managed to solve the problem I was having (see 2 posts ago). There is a check box "Add a pseudo email address to contacts without an email address". This seems to fix my issue. Hope this helps some others with my problem.

It would be nice if there was some notification somewhere about this issue as it occurs.

Anonymous said...

I'm getting error ( Cannot connect,undefined: undefined ) So won't sync any contacts what am i doing wrong???

The last sane person said...

H.ogi - greast add-on. Any way to get contacts added in TB to sync into "my contacts" instead of "all contacts"? I have seen two similar posts, but neither solves the issue for me. Thanks!!!

Curbuntu said...

Dear H.Ogi,

Thanks for creating a must-have Thunderbird add-on. It's almost working as well as I'd like it to. The main problem remaining is that the street addresses don't sync properly. Usually all that transfers is the equivalent of the "Address1" field, but not city/state/zip/country, etc.

I see that in one entry you linked to a web page that was supposed to provide the necessary mapping information. Unfortunately, that page has been taken over by a Japanese loan agency. Has this been reposted elsewhere?

h.ogi said...

To: Curbuntu

Open option dialog and see the Conversion tab. You'll find postal address conversion section.

Enable the Convert postal address fields option. Then select fields you want to sync and specify its order. Specify the delimiter too.

A postal address in Google is divided by the delimiter and each parts are recognized by following the order you specified.

h.ogi said...

To The last sane person:

You can do that by adding a card to My Contacts mail list.

If you want to sync contacts only in My Contacts, open Advanced tab in the option dialog and choose My Contacts in the Group mapping section. Then reload contacts. All mail lists will disappear and only contacts in My Contacts will appear. When you add a card, it is added to My Contacts automatically.

Nikola said...

I can't sync my Google contacts with TB 3.1.3 for some reason. Status bar shows status OK, but when I check my address book, there is no single contact in there (and the limit is set to 9999, as i have around 8000 contacts). The status message I see on the address book bar is:

Total contacts in 0

Has anyone else had such issue and knows the fix? I'm using the latest stable Google contacts version.

Alessandro said...

Thanks for this killer-extension! I have the "Mail list xyzzy already exists. xyzzy in is not synchronized." problem as well, and I can't wait to have it fixed :P Any plan about that?

h.ogi said...

To Alessandro:

Please try 0.6.33b4

Anonymous said...

I am also getting this error:
Cannot connect. undefined: undefined

Is it maybe connected that we are using google apps and dont have a address?

Anonymous said...


at fist - thanks for this app!
but i encountered a problem concerning syncing:
TB >(GoogleSync)> Google > iPhone:

make new contact in TB
new contact is shown in Google
iPhone Sync
the new contact is not added to my iphone, but it still is shown in Google.

edit & change the new contact in Google (once, doesn't matter which field)
sync Google iPhone
syncing worked, contact shown on iPhone

Is there a proper solution for this Problem? It's quite hard to find out, which Contacts weren't synced, especially as you usually recognize too late. means, you want to call someoneand find no contact info on the phone.

Is this an issue for GoogleContacts or for Google?


Opinator said...

Question 2: "It does not synchronize at all"
You should add this: "please verify there is at least one account checked in the Accounts Window from the options".

h.ogi said...

To Opinator,

Thanks. I've modified Question 2.

Michael S. said...

The Google API now supports structured postal addresses. Please update this extension to support this. Right now, My Android phone is syncing postal addresses to Google in a format that your extension can't handle but if you update to support Google's structured addresses this will be resolved.

Philipp said...

Hi. I was not able to find out, what "Readonly" means: Does it prevent my Thunderbird or my Google address book from being overwritten? I need a functionality that only copies Google -> Thunderbird. Is it meant/implemented this way?
Thank you!

h.ogi said...


The Read-only mode is the one you need. All modifications at Thunderbird will be ignored.

Alain P said...

Hello h.ogi,

I use Thunderbird 8.0 and Your add-on in release 0.6.40.

It works almost fine... I say almost fine because sometimes (1 or 2 time per week) my 190 contacts are duplicated in to 16'000 contacts. Yes, you read right, 16'000 contacts.

I have to go in to "Manage Google Contact" to find "duplicates" and "merge" them. After this manually operation the 16'000 contacts are transformed in 190 contacts.

I send a message to google support but they say that they doesn't support Thunderbird and they suspect that this issue is due to a sync plugin.

Thank of lot for your advises.


Daniel D. said...

I use this extension to sync my contacts between Thunderbird 8, Google Mail and my android phone. It works good, but not perfect. Loading and editing the contacts in TB works, but there are problems with the contact groups.

- I've 104 contacts in Google (and on my phone), which own the "MyContacts" label from Google. TB shows all contacts in the address book, but only 46 in the "MyContacts" group. Why?

- I added 7 contacts in my phone to the favourites - Google added the label "Starred in Android" -, but only 6 are stored in the "Starred in Android" group in TB. Why?

Is there a sync problem or did Google change something? It doesn't help to wait a few days. It would be great if you can look into this problem.

Thanks for this great extension, it saved me a lot of time.

Anonymous said...

The Contact MUST have an E-Mailadress to be show in the List...

Ben Lawless said...

When I add a contact in thunderbird I never see it on my phone. I can open GMAIL on the PC and go into contacts I cannot see it unless I search for it. Then it shows up under connected profiles. What is that?
After I find it there, I can then add it to my google contacts.

Richard Cropper said...

Sorry to be dim but I've followed FAQ 2 but there's still no synchronization to copy the contacts from my address book to the Gmail contacts which remain empty. I have Thunderbird 15.01

Larry Telle said...

h.ogi Great ADD-on, Everything appears to work when I start up TB, I get updates to contact from Google, but if I hit reload, I never get any updates. I have to close TB and start it again.
Thanks again for the great ADD-on.

Ron M said...

Hello, for the life of me I can not find the Google Contacts max option to sync contacts. I found max backup option (changed to 400 - no response)and then I also found the max for debugging (changed to 400 - no response).

Anonymous said...

Sorry I need help to install. After I saved and open it and it says;
"Window can't open this file:......................

What do you want to do?
- use web service to find the correct program
- Select a program from a list of installed program
I am not sure what to to do.

Thanks in advance

Anonymous said...

Google Contacts 0.7.11 x Thunderbird 17.0.6.
Seems that contacts are not syncing, either Google Contacts to Thunderbird, or Thunderbird to Google Contacts.
Is there any incompatibility?
Tks, Junior

aldericd said...

Very useful add-on !!

Synchronization works if you check that it is not a duplicate contacts (which can happen unknowingly because of suggested contacts)

Remaining problem (bug ?) though : not all fields get synced. Function and company name get left out for some reason.

I'm donating nevertheless.

Yoroshiku onegaishimasu.

Rob Mckenzie said...

I have not yet managed to sync. I suspect it may be because my thunderbird profile is somewhere else than the default. I tried to change the path in Advanced Options in the add-on, but when I clicked OK and then rechecked, it was back to the default profile path.

Rob Mckenzie said...

I have not yet managed to get any contacts syncing. I suspect the reason is that my Thunderbird profile is not in the default location. This seem sot be programed into the Advanced option is the add-on. I tried to change the path there, but after I clicked OK, and the rechecked, it had gone back to the default thunderbird profile path. Can this path be changed?

Rob Mckenzie said...

I have not yet managed to get any contacts syncing. I suspect the reason is that my Thunderbird profile is not in the default location. This seem sot be programed into the Advanced option is the add-on. I tried to change the path there, but after I clicked OK, and the rechecked, it had gone back to the default thunderbird profile path. Can this path be changed?

Anonymous said...

Suggested changes and improvements:

The current version is well past Question 1 should be updated to reflect this (e.g. "There is currently no limitation to the number of contacts that Google Contacts would retrieve. Before v0.6.3.4...")

1. It does not retrieve all contacts in Gmail.
It retrieve only about 25 contacts by default.... This limitation will be removed in v0.6.34.

Question 2 does not explain where the reload button is located. From the context, it's easy to assume it's in the Google Contacts preferences. Please add a note to see question 9 to add the reload button:

2. It does not synchronize at all.
At first, verify there is at least one account checked in the Accounts Window from the options. Then authorize your accounts before you synchronize Thunderbird and Google It is done by clicking Reload button....

Topoldo said...

I tested Google Contacts 0.7.12 but I found at least 2 problems:
a. I wasn't able at all to sync TB -> Google (GMail addressbook) while I had no problem in the other way. So it seems like a "one way only" sync.
b. Google Contacts cannot map website(s) (home and work) anymore between TB & Google because, I suppose, Google changed the name (and maybe also the features) of Website fields putting them into the Google+ profiles.
I hope an upgrade will be ready soon to patch these problems.

jang said...

Hi, I am using TB 24.3.0 with Google Contacts Add-On 0.7.12.
Some of my Google Contacts have extensive notes / contact details (don't know the correct name of that field...). The Add-On does not synchronize the complete content of this field. Seems to stop after 3905 characters.
This means I cannot synchronize my contacts because I would lose some data then.
How can I solve this Problem?

Pierre said...

Was working perfectly until now - As with others, I'm getting a repeating password window appearing; it's not accepting my password anymore.

David Irwin said...

I too am receiving the repeating password prompt as of today. I tried uninstalling the add-on and re-installing. I also removed it and installed the newest beta version. That did not help.

Jens Weimar said...

I have the same problem like David.
Always prompted for password since today.
What's the reason about that? Is there a workaround?
Thanks in advance!

Anonymous said...

See the commnet on the G. Add On page:

Google as of today, May 27 2015, "has totally revamped it's 'Google Contacts'. It's an extra application now and no longer part of "Mail".". I'm so friggin' mad now!

Anonymous said...

Okay, it's clear everyone is experiencing the same problem. I think the pertinent question is this: "Is this plugin in active development?"

If yes, I think most people would be prepared to wait.
If not, is there another plugin that can take its place?

Given that Google has changed the way it handles contacts, I'm willing to bet this problem is across the board. So it looks like a matter of waiting. Personally, I hope this plugin is still in active development because a) it's been excellent so far and b) it will save a lot of hassle!

Anonymous said...

You can see the ticket logged in the developer's issue tracker. 2 days and counting without response....

Maybe this plugin is abandoned?! EEEEEEEKKKK

Київ Захід said...

The same problem. Please, fix it!!!

Jacques said...

I am having the same problem, being asked for my password over and over again. We need a solution, and quick as my contacts on Thunderbird and on Google are beginning to differ a lot. It started a few weeks ago for me.

My only solution is remove the add-on and to sync the contacts manually every few weeks via a csv file with the Google list being the master. Looking for an alternate addon. If other users have found a replacement, please post it here.

Since there has not been any posts by the author since 2013, it is probably abandoned - maybe the author has passed away

Wild Stray said...

Project clearly abadoned from years. Author does not reply. Issue tracking system broken (error 500). gContactSync IS NOT a valid replacement because it does NOT work with multiple GMail accounts and author wont fix.
Google Contacts does not work anymore (and never will) because Google API now have mandatory requirements as OAuth 3.0.

How about fork this extension? I've the idea to fork it and hope in the contribution of community on github.

Delrey's two cents said...

Installing from file generated an error 'Google Contacts could not be installed because it is not compatible with Thunderbird 38.4.0'

Any plans on releasing an update? page says it only supports Works with Thunderbird 17.0 - 24.* but also states Works with Thunderbird 17.0 and later

Any help would be appreciated.

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