Lync, Exchange, and Active Directory Photos

Recent versions of Microsoft Lync and Exchange support a centralized photo capability so that all users in the organization see the same photo for colleagues hosted on the same Exchange/Lync/Active Directory (AD) infrastructure.

This new feature is still evolving and the support for central photos is slightly different depending on both the client and server versions used for Exchange/Lync services (Outlook, Outlook Web Access (OWA), Lync, Skype for Business, etc).

If you’re running both Exchange 2013 and Lync 2013, users can upload a photo into their OWA profile and Lync can use this same photo – this is the easiest scenario to implement and support. If the organization desires to review photos before they are posted, the user ability to upload photos in OWA can be disabled. If administrators are uploading photos for users, the new Exchange 2013 command Set-UserPhoto "username" -PictureData $byteArray should be used. A 648×648 pixel photo is recommended to support Lync 2013. This command creates photo thumbnails to store in the Exchange mailbox and copies a small thumbnail to the Active Directory user record to support older Outlook 2010 and Lync 2010 clients. If the AD thumbnail is too small, you can upload a custom thumbnail (usually 96×96 pixels) to AD separately with the Set-ADUser "username" -Replace @{thumbnailPhoto=$byteArray} command. If you want to resize photos from the command line, I recommend the GraphicsMagick gm convert command. Here’s a good example for uploading photos using both the Set-UserPhoto and Set-ADUser commands.

Why upload two different size photos? Because Microsoft recommends it if you’re supporting both Lync/Outlook 2013 and Lync/Outlook 2010. Quote from MS article: “2010 clients […] will obtain user photos from AD DS. You can import 96 x 96 pixel images to replace the [48×48] ones created by [Exchange 2013 …] if you have […] 2010 clients in your organization.”

If you research Lync support for user photos, you will find a feature which can be enabled to allow users to select any Internet URL as the photo source. If this option is selected, the user photo URL information is stored in the Lync server User Database which is visible to Lync clients through the central Communication Services (CS) Address Book. Since this Lync User database is not stored in Active Directory or Exchange, these user photo Internet URL settings can only be modified by Lync. If you want to centrally manage the Lync User Database, you can use the DBImpExp.exe command in Lync 2010, or the Export-CSUserData and Update-CSUserData in Lync 2013 to export and import XML files with each Lync User Configuration. A good example or starting point for manipulating the Lync User Photo URLs is this TechNet Gallery Script: Add Personal URL Photo in Lync 2013. NOTE that changes to the User Database will usually not be visible until you run Update-CSAddressBook on each Lync Server and then fully exit and re-open the Lync client after the server completes the Address Book update.

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About notesbytom

Keeping technology notes on WordPress.com to free up my mind to solve new problems rather than figuring out the same ones repeatedly :-).
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