Importing Thumbnail Photos from AD(Active Directory) into SharePoint 2010




Lately I have seen several people having difficulties in importing thumbnail Photos from Active Directory. In this post I would be explaining the step by step process of importing  thumbnail Photos


I am assuming that you have a working User Profile Service application and MySites configured. You should be successfully able to import users


I have OU called “PictureOU” inside my domain “”

I have a single user called “Harmeet”


At present there is no picture associated to this user inside Active Directory.


Note- You will not see all the user attributes if you have not turned on the “Advanced Features”. You can also view the same information from ADSI.

How to import Pictures

Now our Goal is to import Harmeet profile along with his picture, we will also upload his picture in AD.

1) First we need to make sure we are able to import users. So I will create connection to OU – PictureOU and import users


Note- I am only importing users from OU PictureOU

2) Let’s check Harmeet’s profile in SharePoint and make sure there is no picture associated to it.



Picture for this user is set to be blank

3) Upload Pictures to Active Directory.

Lots of people also have trouble in finding out ways to upload pictures in Active Directory. Following are the two best methods that I am aware off

A. Run these commands in Windows Powershell. We need to have Windows Administrative tools loaded for this to work

Import-Module ActiveDirectory

$photo=[byte[]](Get-Content C:\harmeet.jpg -Encoding byte)

Set-ADUser "harmeet" -Replace @{thumbnailPhoto=$photo}

B. We can use AD Photo Edit tool available at . Please note that this is not a Microsoft supported tool

Note- By default users do have permission to change their own picture, if you are doing it for a different user then make sure you have required Permissions on Active Directory

4) Let’s check User properties in Active Directory and make sure if has Picture value set



5) Map the Picture property to Thumnail Photo

A) Browse to User Profile Service Application from Central Administratoion and then click on Manage User Properties

Central Administration > UPA > Manage User Properties

B)  Click on Picture and then Edit


C) We need to Map this to Attribute “thumnailPhoto” and Select Import from the Direction. Make sure you click on on Add


D) After clicking on Add make sure it shows up under the “Property Mapping for Synchronization”section


E) Click on OK

6) Start incremental Import

7) Let’s check the User properties and see if the image has been populated


So Picture still showing blank

8) Let’s check MIIS client and see if it made an attempt to import the picture. For this we will need to DS_DELTASYNC


So it does appear that FIM picked up the image successfully from Active Directory

9) Let’s check the Sync DB by running the following query

Select sAMAccountName,SPS_MV_OctetString_PictureURL from MMS_Metaverse with(nolock) Where SAMAccountName like '%UserName%'


So it appears Sync DB has successfully got updated with the Image.


10) Now let’s check the Profile DB by running the following query

Select NTname,PictureURL from UserProfile_full with(nolock) where NTName like ‘%harmeet%’


So it appears that Picture has not made it to the Profile DB

11) Run the following in SharePoint Management Shell
Update-SPProfilePhotoStore -CreateThumbnailsForImportedPhotos 1 -MySiteHostLocation http://mysite

12) Now if you go back to the user profile you will see that the image has been updated




How to find if an image for a user has been imported in Sync DB

Select sAMAccountName,SPS_MV_OctetString_PictureURL from MMS_Metaverse  with(nolock) Where SAMAccountName like '%UserName%'

How to find if an image for a user has been imported in Profile DB

Select NTname,PictureURL from UserProfile_full with(nolock) where NTName like ‘%UserName%’

We first import images from AD into Sync DB and then populate it into the Profile DB. By default images do not auto populate in Profile DB,we need to run the following CMDlet

Update-SPProfilePhotoStore -CreateThumbnailsForImportedPhotos 1 -MySiteHostLocation http://mysite

Image type issues

Best way to troubleshoot this issue is by creating a simple JPG file from MSPaint and then upload it to the Active Directory, if this comes through then you will need to check out the file types or the size issues.