Setup SharePoint User Profile Synchronisation to Import Profile Photos from Active Directory

In this post we are going to setup On-Premises SharePoint User Profile Synchronisation to import profile photos from Active Directory.

These instructions work for either SharePoint 2010 or 2013, but for SharePoint 2013, this assumes you are using SharePoint Profile Synchronization and not Active Directory Import or External Identity Manager.

The steps involved are straightforward enough;

  • Populate the thumbnailPhoto attribute of Active Directory accounts with profile photos
  • Map the SharePoint Picture profile property to the thumbnailPhoto AD attribute
  • Perform a Full/Incremental synchronization

Add Photo(s) to Active Directory User(s)

This may be done as part of your wider identity/AD management infrastructure, but you can also use Powershell to add photos to user accounts;

Import-Module ActiveDirectory -ea SilentlyContinue
$pPhoto = [byte[]](Get-Content "C:\userPhotos\carol.jpg" -Encoding byte)
Set-ADUser "PDOGS\carol" -Replace @{ thumbnailPhoto=$pPhoto }

The types of image recommended are JPG’s and less than 100K in size.

Configure the ‘Picture’ User Profile Property

In Central Administration go to Manage Service Applications » User Profile Synchronization » User Profile Properties, locate the Picture property and click on Edit;

Edit the Picture Property

Add a new mapping using the thumbnailPhoto AD attribute, set the direction to Import and click Add.

Add the property mapping

Verify the mapping;

thumbnailPhoto property mapping

Now click OK.

Start a Full/Incremental Synchronization

In Central Administration go to Manage Service Applications » User Profile Synchronization » Start Profile Synchronization

Now start either a Full or Incremental synchronization.

Check User Profile page in SharePoint

When the synchronization has finished, go to a user profile page and check to see if the profile photos were imported;  http://<my site host>/Person.aspx?Account=<domain/account name>

Chances are that the profile photo is not displayed.

Check the FIM Client

First we’ll check that FIM synchronization included the Active Directory user account photos;

  • Open the FIM Synchronization client found at; C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office Servers\15.0\Synchronization Service\UIShell\miisclient.exe, or C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office Servers\14.0\Synchronization Service\UIShell\miisclient.exe for SharePoint 2010
  • Select the last operation for your profile sync connection named DS_DELTASYNC
  • Click on Connectors with Flow Updates
  • Double click a user account and check that the item with attribute name thumbnailPhoto contains the hex representation of the profile photo;

FIM synchronization

Check Profile and Sync Databases

With that part verified, we’ll now check the Profile and Synchronization databases to see if the photos were imported there;

  • Start SQL Server Management Console and open a new query window
  • Check that the Synchronization database contains the user account photo;
USE <SP2013_Sync>
SELECT sAMAccountName,PictureURL
     FROM MMS_Metaverse
     WHERE SAMAccountName LIKE '<user account name>'

Check the synchronization database
* Remember to change the synch database name.

  • Check that the Profile database does not contain the user account photo;
USE <SP2013_Profile>
SELECT NTname,PictureURL
     FROM UserProfile_full
     WHERE NTName LIKE '%<user account name>%'

Check the profile database
* Remember to change the profile database name.

Update the Profile Photostore

Now we need to tell SharePoint about the imported profile photos so it can create the 3 scaled profile pictures, to do this we can use the Update-SPProfilePhotoStore Powershell command;

Update-SPProfilePhotoStore -CreateThumbnailsForImportedPhotos $true`
             -MySiteHostLocation "http://<my site host>"

If you run this command and see the following exception, it likely means that the account you’re running the command as doesn’t have sufficient permissions on the User Profile Synchronisation service application;

Update-SPProfilePhotoStore : UserProfileApplicationNotAvailableException_Logging ::
UserProfileApplicationProxy.ApplicationProperties ProfilePropertyCache 
does not have 22411bc8-8e28-4164-b6fb-7f5cd51b1fc9At line:1 char:1+ Update-SPProfilePhotoStore 
-CreateThumbnailsForImportedPhotos $true -MySiteHostL ...
+ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~    
+ CategoryInfo : InvalidData: (Microsoft.Offic...ofilePhotoStore:SPCmdletUserProfilePhotoStore) 
    + FullyQualifiedErrorId : Microsoft.Office.Server.UserProfiles.PowerShell.SPCmdletUserProfilePhotoStore

The user account running the powershell command must be a service application Administrator and have permissions to access the User Profile Synchronisation service application, to do this;

  • In Central Administration go to  Manage Service Applications and click in the row for User Profile Synchronization
  • Click Administrators in the ribbon, add your account and set permissions and click OK

Add service application administrator

  • Click Permissions in the ribbon, add your account and set permissions and click OK

Set service application permissions

After setting the appropriate permissions and running the Update-SPProfilePhotoStore command you should now see the imported profile pictures displayed on users profile pages.

Published by

Phil Harding

SharePoint Consultant, Developer, Father, Husband and Climber.

2 thoughts on “Setup SharePoint User Profile Synchronisation to Import Profile Photos from Active Directory

  1. UPA is setup as normal to run delta every 4 hours and full every 2 days. However, I notice that photos aren’t being updated. Do I have to run the update-spprofilephotostore either manually or schedule it?

    $mysitesUrl = “”
    $mySitesHost = Get-SPSite –Identity $mySitesUrl
    Update-SPProfilePhotoStore –MySiteHostLocation $mySitesHost –CreateThumbnailsForImportedPhotos $true

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.