What’s the Difference Between Lightning Sync and Lightning for Gmail/Outlook?
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What’s the Difference Between Lightning Sync and Lightning for Gmail/Outlook?

Charlie asks,

Hi, is anyone able to help clarify the difference between Lighting Sync for Google (which seems to be the backend sync functionality and Lightning for Gmail (beta) which seems to be the chrome plugin? Is one a prerequisite of the other? Are they completely separate tools?

Lightning Sync is not required to use the Lightning for Outlook/Gmail plugin, but they work nicely together. The Lightning for Outlook/Gmail plugin allows you to create records directly in Salesforce from your inbox, such as new Salesforce Contacts, and Opportunities. One of the main features of the plugin is the ability to log emails to Salesforce directly from your inbox. In the side panel there is a little upload button that lets you create and relate the email that you have open in your inbox to any Salesforce record.

As you alluded to Lightning Sync is the sibling to the Lightning for Outlook/Gmail plugin. Lightning Sync requires an installation on your email server. It can sync Contacts back and forth between Salesforce and your email, and events from Exchange/Google to Salesforce. For Google, the sync for Contacts is currently only one way (Salesforce Contacts sync to Google Contacts).

A few use cases best demonstrate how the Lightning for Outlook/Gmail plugin and Lighting Sync compliment each other:

Use Case #1: Emailing a Contact You have Never Emailed Before

Let’s say you want to compose an email to someone with whom you have never emailed with before. You type in the first few letters of her name, but Gmail isn’t suggesting anything. You’re surprised because you have her contact information in Salesforce. You can search for her contact information in Salesforce with the Lightning for Outlook/Gmail plugin, and copy and paste her email address into a new email.

If you had Lightning Sync installed you would have had all of your Salesforce Contacts directly in Google/Exchange as Contacts, and could have simply typed the Contact’s name into the “to” when composing the email.

Use Case #2: Receiving an Email from Someone for the First Time

Say you receive an email from someone you just met. You could then add her info as a Contact in Salesforce via the Lightning for Outlook/Gmail plugin. Then you would respond back to the email and log it back into Salesforce with the plugin, if needed.

Then let’s say you want to send her a new email on a different topic and start a new thread. Gmail will not find or suggest her name or email when you type the first few letters. You would need to search your past emails from her, or search Salesforce to get her email address.

If you Lightning Sync installed you would be able to compose a new email immediately by typing your Contacts name in the ‘to’ area in the email and had her information at your fingertips. Again, this goes to the functionality of Lightning Sync being able to sync back Salesforce Contacts to Google/Exchange Contacts.

Use Case #3: Sending a Calendar invite to a Contact

While Salesforce provides some event functionality, such as being able to create an Event in Salesforce and then add a Contact to it most users prefer to use their Outlook or Gmail calendar to schedule meetings. This is preferred method because I don’t think Salesforce sends an invite out to the Contact (they did previously and it wasn’t clunky and discontinued to my knowledge). Also, when you use your native calendar invite and someone responds their response actually gets synced to the Event record in Salesforce cool, pretty cool (Lightning Only)!

Because of Lightning Sync, when you create an event on your Google/Outlook calendar you can easily add your Salesforce Contacts as invitees (since you have your Salesforce Contacts syncs to Exchange/Google). In addition, Lightning Sync can sync that event on your calendar back to Salesforce with the invitees. This is helpful so that when you open a Contact record in Salesforce you can see what meetings you’ve had with them.

I hope this helps explain how these 2 pieces of email integration with Salesforce fit together. Let me know if you have any more questions!


Salesforce LfO/LfG & Lightning Sync Success Group

Google Documentation

Lightning Sync for Google (installation video guide here)

Lightning for Gmail

Microsoft Exchange Documentation

Lightning Sync for Exchange

Lightning for Outlook

  • Ilich
    Posted at 22:15h, 31 May Reply

    Hi Paul,

    First, let thank you for your posts on this topics. The video is great and your explanation in this post is very helpful.

    I have use case where we would like to sync calendar events with another custom calendar system. Similar to what is done with for Gmail and Outlook. Do you know if we could construct the calendar events from Salesforce in JSON format so we could send it to the external calendar system? In the same way we would need to consume calendar events from this external system and apply them to Salesforce.

    Any ideas, suggestions, guidance?

    Thanks in advance

  • Tom
    Posted at 10:01h, 30 November Reply

    Thanks for clarifying!!!

  • Pulkit
    Posted at 23:28h, 30 September Reply

    Hey hi i want to know as salesforce to outlook will expire in 2020 what are the options we have to enable outlook feature without paying any extra money?

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