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What are online accounts and how do they work?

I previously never bothered with it. but I just did a fresh install of 12.04 and figured "hey maybe i'll put in my google account and see what happens" I logged in with google and everyting like mal/calendar/contacts/chat is set to "on"...

I figured it might automatically set up my gmail for various applications like empathy and thunderbird.. but I opened them up and found nothing...

What exactly is the purpose of adding your account to "online accounts"? where is it used?

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marked as duplicate by jokerdino, hhlp, James Jun 6 '12 at 16:59

This question was marked as an exact duplicate of an existing question.

It is to give a system-wide access to your gmail (and possibly others) account so that softwares and extensions can access it without requiring you to give permission to each and every of them.

The fact that Gnome provides this functionality doesn't mean that developers actually use it, it's a pretty new feature and softwares will eventually catch up.

As far as I know one of the few extensions using "online accounts" is Gmail Notify

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