AD Photo Edit (a program for uploading images into the Active Directory thumbnailPhoto attribute used by Outlook 2010)

October 31, 2010 — 8 Comments

I fancied a quick break from making my AD reporting app (AD Info) so decided to make a program that will help you upload images into the thumbnailPhoto attribute in Active Directory that Outlook 2010 uses to display user/contact images.

EDIT 06/11/2010: The first version of this application is now available from my website here. Please try it out and let me know what you think!

If you are not familiar with what this new photo feature in Outlook 2010 is, you can read about the Outlook 2010 photo feature on the MS Exchange blog here:

The blog post mentioned above also explains how to import an image to a user or contact via the Powershell command line tools available with Exchange 2010, but there is no user friendly GUI for doing this and they force you to use images less than 10 KB in size.

Note that this feature only requires Outlook 2010 and does not require Exchange 2010. The attribute that it uses (thumbnailPhoto) has been in Active Directory since Windows 2000, its just that Outlook 2010 is the first version of Outlook to make use of this attribute. Other applications such as Sharepoint are now starting to use this attribute as well.

I have also written another blog post here explaining more about this thumbnailPhoto attribute, how users can update their own photos and also how you can allow regular non-admin users to update other user’s photos.

So anyway, I could only find one program out there that makes it easy (I say easy, this program was quite poorly written so it wasn’t that easy!) to upload photos to specific users or upload photos in bulk, and it cost roughly $100 per administrator. So I figured I would make my own application and either make it free or very low cost. I started working on it yesterday and have spent the majority of today on it as well so it is coming along quite nicely, with the photo viewing and exporting functionality all working now. You can see some screenshots of it in its current state below:

Splash screen screenshot

Options window screenshot

Main window screenshot

Edit photo window screenshot

The Bulk Import feature that you may have noticed on the screenshot will give you the option of specifying a CSV file that contains a list of usernames and image paths, or you can point it to a directory that has images in that are each named with a user’s username and it will upload each of them to the relevant user.

Also, as the thumbnailPhoto attribute is limited to images no larger than 100 KB, I am planning to include some basic image editing functions for you to adjust the images that you select to import (this applies to single user editing, not bulk imports), such as image rotation, resizing, and quality adjustment.

If you have any suggestions for additional features you would like to see then let me know.


8 responses to AD Photo Edit (a program for uploading images into the Active Directory thumbnailPhoto attribute used by Outlook 2010)


    Hello friend,

    Thank you for this informative and valuable article here.
    I am looking for your tool to add user pictures to AD for following porpose:
    1.We want to link those pictures(stored in AD) to the user profiles on Sharepoint2010.
    2.Users who are using Outlook 2010 shuld see the pic in contact details.

    3.Picture should be displayed in ad user contact.

    The uploading of the picture will be done by someone in IT department.

    Please tell me if your tool will help me?



      Hi Umesh,

      My application will upload images into the thumbnailPhoto attribute in AD for each user/contact you select. Outlook 2010 looks at this attribute when it loads display pictures for users/contacts, however I do not know how Sharepoint 2010 works. If it uses the thumbnailPhoto attribute then yes it will pick up any images you upload via my application, if it does not use the thumbnailPhoto attribute then it wont. Considering there is a completely free version of my application I would suggest you just download it and test it with a test user 🙂 You can download the free edition here:


      This tool uploads the photo into AD – you’ll then need to synchronise your Sharepoint server with the photos from AD – there’s no automated process for this natively included in Sharepoint (ie it keeps a separate photo database rather than just using what’s in AD – goodness only knows why…).


    Hi Chris.
    thanks for this.
    i’m just starting to try to populate our SharePoint environment with images that we have of each staff member.
    Once we role out outlook 2010 and Exchange 2010 we’ll be fully utilising the ‘thumbnailphoto’ attribute.

    I thought I’d just pass on my two-penneth.
    SharePoint uses its User Profile syncronisation service to communicate with AD and in that service is an option to define custom links to attributes or change the default value of the standard attributes which are part of a standard configuration.
    the ‘Picture’ propert in SharePoint isn’t mapped by default and can be pointed at the ‘thumbnailphoto’ attribute using a drop down selector.

    It’s really easy.

    Thanks again for the app and the knowledge.



    So one i have uploaded photos via the application (which looks great by the way) do i have to change anything or will they automatically appear in AD?


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  1. Bohemian » Blog Archive » a program to fix pictures - June 4, 2011

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