Profile pictures in Office 365

I’m very much hoping to write a series of posts on our current office 365 project. I could start from the top and show each phase but I figure it’s better just to jump in at the deep end and share what’s going on right now. This will be a bit of technical geeky stuff so feel free to switch off!

I’ve been looking at populating user profile pictures for Microsoft Lync, while it’s possible to do this on a individual basis I thought with all the federation work we had done to get Office 365 working it was worth using Active Directory instead. Now AD already supports user profile images using the thumbnailLogo attribute but getting an image in there can be a bit tricky. There are some powershell options but those could be handy for batch operations they didn’t seem very user friendly for our service desks, instead we found two decent alternatives.

The first technique I found from another blog post here this adds adext.dll to your system to manage thumbnails via ADUC. I popped this on my machine and it seems a really simple way to add and remove images. See the screenshot below for the interface, apologies for the photo!

The next option was found by my colleague Steve, this is the free edition of AD Photo Edit available here. This has a really nice interface and supports searching for AD users as well as giving some useful information out such as image resolution. See the screenshot below, click for big:

Those two tools got us off to a good start and we soon had some images in our system. Being impatient I then forced a manual update from dirsync to push them out to Office 365, it took a little while for them to appear but before long we had them up and running in Lync! One of the images had issues and it seems that 365 doesn’t like images bigger than 10kb in size or 96×96 pixels resolution. Changing the image to this resolution had it working after the next sync. Outlook took a little longer to see the images, I’m guessing it took a full update of the Global Address List to filter in. So here are some screens of Lync and Outlook now working with our pictures, I guess all we need now are some decent corporate photos!

I’m unsure if we will end up rolling it out as a service but given that we take photos for the library cards we could look at integrating those into AD. I think it brings a nice personal touch to email and messaging so I’m hopeful that we will use it fully!

About Stuart Gould

IT Services Senior Infrastructure Solutions Specialist.
Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert: Private Cloud,
MCSE: Windows Server 2003,
MCSA: Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2008, Window Server 2003, Windows 7

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