Quickstart for the Azure AD Graph API

The Azure Active Directory (AD) Graph API provides programmatic access to Azure AD through OData REST API endpoints. Applications can use the Graph API to perform create, read, update, and delete (CRUD) operations on directory data and objects. For example, you can use the Graph API to create a new user, view or update user’s properties, change user’s password, check group membership for role-based access, disable, or delete the user. For more information on the Graph API features and application scenarios, see Azure AD Graph API and Azure AD Graph API Prerequisites.


We strongly recommend that you use Microsoft Graph instead of Azure AD Graph API to access Azure Active Directory resources. Our development efforts are now concentrated on Microsoft Graph and no further enhancements are planned for Azure AD Graph API. There are a very limited number of scenarios for which Azure AD Graph API might still be appropriate; for more information, see the Microsoft Graph or the Azure AD Graph blog post in the Office Dev Center.

How to construct a Graph API URL

In Graph API, to access directory data and objects (in other words, resources or entities) against which you want to perform CRUD operations, you can use URLs based on the Open Data (OData) Protocol. The URLs used in Graph API consist of four main parts: service root, tenant identifier, resource path, and query string options: https://graph.windows.net/{tenant-identifier}/{resource-path}?[query-parameters]. Take the example of the following URL: https://graph.windows.net/contoso.com/groups?api-version=1.6.

  • Service Root: In Azure AD Graph API, the service root is always https://graph.windows.net.
  • Tenant identifier: This section can be a verified (registered) domain name, in the preceding example, contoso.com. It can also be a tenant object ID or the “myorganization” or “me” alias. For more information, see Addressing Entities and Operations in the Graph API).
  • Resource path: This section of a URL identifies the resource to be interacted with (users, groups, a particular user, or a particular group, etc.) In the example above, it is the top level “groups” to address that resource set. You can also address a specific entity, for example “users/{objectId}” or “users/userPrincipalName”.
  • Query parameters: A question mark (?) separates the resource path section from the query parameters section. The “api-version” query parameter is required on all requests in the Graph API. The Graph API also supports the following OData query options: $filter, $orderby, $expand, $top, and $format. The following query options are not currently supported: $count, $inlinecount, and $skip. For more information, see Supported Queries, Filters, and Paging Options in Azure AD Graph API.

Graph API versions

You specify the version for a Graph API request in the “api-version” query parameter. For version 1.5 and later, you use a numerical version value; api-version=1.6. For earlier versions, you use a date string that adheres to the format YYYY-MM-DD; for example, api-version=2013-11-08. For preview features, use the string “beta”; for example, api-version=beta. For more information about differences between Graph API versions, see Azure AD Graph API Versioning.

Graph API metadata

To return the Graph API metadata file, add the “$metadata” segment after the tenant-identifier in the URL For example, the following URL returns metadata for a demo company: https://graph.windows.net/GraphDir1.OnMicrosoft.com/$metadata?api-version=1.6. You can enter this URL in the address bar of a web browser to see the metadata. The CSDL metadata document returned describes the entities and complex types, their properties, and the functions and actions exposed by the version of Graph API you requested. Omitting the api-version parameter returns metadata for the most recent version.

Common queries

Azure AD Graph API Common Queries lists common queries that can be used with the Azure AD Graph, including queries that can be used to access top-level resources in your directory and queries to perform operations in your directory.

For example, https://graph.windows.net/contoso.com/tenantDetails?api-version=1.6 returns company information for directory contoso.com.

Or https://graph.windows.net/contoso.com/users?api-version=1.6 lists all user objects in the directory contoso.com.

Using the Graph Explorer

You can use the Graph Explorer for the Azure AD Graph API to query the directory data as you build your application.

The following is the output you would see if you were to navigate to the Graph Explorer, sign in, and enter https://graph.windows.net/GraphDir1.OnMicrosoft.com/users?api-version=1.6 to display all the users in the signed-in user's directory:

Azure AD graph api explorer

Load the Graph Explorer: To load the tool, navigate to https://graphexplorer.azurewebsites.net/. Click Login and sign-in with your Azure AD account credentials to run the Graph Explorer against your tenant. If you run Graph Explorer against your own tenant, either you or your administrator needs to consent during sign-in. If you have an Office 365 subscription, you automatically have an Azure AD tenant. The credentials you use to sign in to Office 365 are, in fact, Azure AD accounts, and you can use these credentials with Graph Explorer.

Run a query: To run a query, type your query in the request text box and click GET or click the enter key. The results are displayed in the response box. For example, https://graph.windows.net/myorganization/groups?api-version=1.6 lists all group objects in the signed-in user's directory.

Note the following features and limitations of the Graph Explorer:

  • Autocomplete capability on resource sets. To see this functionality, click on the request text box (where the company URL appears). You can select a resource set from the dropdown list.
  • Supports the “me” and “myorganization” addressing aliases. For example, you can use https://graph.windows.net/me?api-version=1.6 to return the user object of the signed-in user or https://graph.windows.net/myorganization/users?api-version=1.6 to return all users in the current directory.
  • A response headers section. This section can be used to help troubleshoot issues that occur when running queries.
  • A JSON viewer for the response with expand and collapse capabilities.
  • No support for displaying a thumbnail photo.

Using Fiddler to write to the directory

For the purposes of this Quickstart guide, you can use the Fiddler Web Debugger to practice performing ‘write’ operations against your Azure AD directory. For more information and to install Fiddler, see http://www.telerik.com/fiddler.

In the example below, you use Fiddler Web Debugger to create a new security group ‘MyTestGroup’ in your Azure AD directory.

Obtain an access token: To access Azure AD Graph, clients are required to successfully authenticate to Azure AD first. For more information, see Authentication Scenarios for Azure AD.

Compose and run a query: Complete the following steps:

  1. Open Fiddler Web Debugger and switch to the Composer tab.
  2. Since you want to create a new security group, select Post as the HTTP method from the pull-down menu. For more information about operations and permissions on a group object, see Group within the Azure AD Graph REST API Reference.
  3. In the field next to Post, type in the following as the request URL: https://graph.windows.net/mytenantdomain/groups?api-version=1.6.


    You must substitute mytenantdomain with the domain name of your own Azure AD directory.

  4. In the field directly below Post pull-down, type the following:

    Host: graph.windows.net
    Authorization: Bearer <your access token>
    Content-Type: application/json

    Substitute your <your access token> with the access token for your Azure AD directory.

  5. In the Request body field, type the following:

            "securityEnabled": true

    For more information about creating groups, see Create Group.

For more information on Azure AD entities and types that are exposed by Graph and information about the operations that can be performed on them with Graph, see Azure AD Graph REST API Reference.

Next steps