AAD sync - profile pictures

Brass Contributor

Pictures from our badging systems are uploaded to users AD object (thumbnailPhoto). We launched Office 365 by introducing SharePoint Online and OneDrive Business. One of the important feedback from users was missing profile pictures from SPO, ODB, Delve, etc.


Users who tried to manually upload their pictures, would get overwritten and display blank image, this was intermittent.


Premier Support and implementation partners informed that in order for an on-prem user thumbnail attribute to be synced to Azure AD -


  1. You mailbox should be on Exchange online.
  2. The thumbnailPhoto size should less than 9 KB. (something small)

At Ignite last year Azure AD, SharePoint, and other product members acknowledged this as a design they would like to improve, and move towards Azure AD as the authoritative source for syncs to EXODS, SPODS etc..


Anyone else experiencing this limitation ?


Any solutions you would recommend, besides moving to EXO and shrinking thumbnailPhoto to less than 9 KB ?

1 Reply

Yes, that's correct. You can upload larger pictures via ExO PowerShell, but that still requires Exchange mailboxes. On the SPO side of things, you can use the tool here: https://github.com/SharePoint/PnP/tree/master/Samples/Core.ProfilePictureUploader


A good summary of all these can be found for example here: http://ilantz.com/2015/11/17/high-resolution-user-photo-synchronization-to-office-365/