Force Update User's "thumbnailPhoto" from AD RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hello,

    When we add/update a user "thumbnailPhoto" attribute directly to AD (without using Set-UserPhoto Command) the image doesn't show in OWA, unless the user log in his email and clicks on his name or open the options page.

    which means that this is the only time when exchange reads the users "thumbnailPhoto" attribute.

    Is there a way to force show/update user Image in OWA after updating it in AD "thumbnailPhoto" attribute?


    Tuesday, April 7, 2015 3:27 PM

All replies

  • It is possible, but would require OWA files modification which comes with its own caveats. They are lost when Exchange is updated with any CU and SPs. Here is a detailed step by step blog

    Tuesday, July 7, 2015 4:49 PM
  • Hi,

    Generally, it is suggested to use Set-UserPhoto to set the photo for AD users. In Exchange 2013, there are some changes about the user photo:

    If you upload a photo to Exchange 2013, Exchange will automatically create a 48 pixel by 48 pixel version of that photo and update the user's thumbnailPhoto attribute. Note, however, that the reverse is not true: if you manually update the thumbnailPhoto attribute in Active Directory the photo in the user's Exchange 2013 mailbox will not automatically be updated. (For detailed information about this, please refer to:

    Please update the GAL in Exchange server:

    Get-GlobalAddressList | Update-GlobalAddressList

    Then confirm whether the user photo is displayed in OWA GAL and Outlook Online mode.


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    Winnie Liang
    TechNet Community Support

    Wednesday, July 8, 2015 9:42 AM
  • This doesn't work.

    We tried "Get-GlobalAddressList | Update-GlobalAddressList" but the newer photo in the User Attribut "thumbnailPhoto" in AD was ignored. Looks like the photo from AD is only used once and ignored from then on.

    There must be a command to tell Exchange that the "thumbnailPhoto" Attribut was changed and should be taken as the actual Picture.

    Monday, July 11, 2016 8:59 AM