Exchange 2013 / 2010 / 2007 – How to configure OAB for offline Thumbnail photo

One of our customers wanted to have Thumbnail photo attribute configured for offline access.


  • Enhance AD schema of AD attribute ThumbnailPhoto (Done by default for Exchange 2010 SP2+)
  • Upload pictures via Powershell or Sharepoint
    Enable ThumbnailPhoto attribute in OAB (Done by default in Exchange 2010 SP2, but only indicator to fetch data from AD online)
  • Configure ThumbnailPhoto to true Offline access (change attribute Thumbnailphoto,indicator to ThumbnailPhoto,value)

The rough process is simple, but in my case there was a problem, because customer has coexistence scenario Exchange 2007 / Exchange 2010 in single AD site. In this scenario OAB has been first created in Exchange 2003 -> Then Exchange 2003 has been replaced by Exchange 2007 and after that Exchange 2007 left for business purpose (several mailboxes ) and it was extended by Exchange 2010 (Currently SP3). In this scenario OAB is missing ConfiguredAttributes (It is empty) So the process is as follows:

1. Get info about OAB

Command lists OAB and its empty attribute.

Get-OfflineAddressBook "Default Offline Address List" | fl

Default OAB

2. Create new OAB to see configured attributes

To be sure users will not be disrupted by the change I have created new OAB on Exchange 2010.

New-OfflineAddressBook -Name 'Default Offline Address Book + offline photo' -Server 'PF1' -AddressLists '\Default Global Address List' -PublicFolderDistributionEnabled $false -VirtualDirectories 'CH1\OAB (Default Web Site)','CH2\OAB (Default Web Site)','CH2\OAB (Default Web Site)','CH1\OAB (Default Web Site)'

3. List configured attributes

To display all attributes configured we need to use the following cmdlets:

$FormatEnumerationLimit = -1
Get-OfflineAddressBook "Default Offline Address Book*" | select name, Configuredattributes | fl

New OAB with attributes

4. Change attributes

To change attributes I first read attributes to variable and adjusted ThumbnailPhoto,Indicator to ThumbnailPhoto,Value. It will phycically store ThumbnailPhoto data to OAB. Caution. This might increase network load, since OAB will increase its size based on user counts.

$attr = (Get-OfflineAddressBook "Default Offline Address Book*").configuredattributes



Attribute updated in variable

5. Import to OAB

To import modified set of attributes to OAB use:

Set-OfflineAddressBook "Default Offline Address Book*" -ConfiguredAttributes $attr

OAB with edited attribute

6. Update OAB and Check OAB

To generate new OAB and distribute it accross WEB distribution points use:

Get-OfflineAddressBook "Default Offline Address Book*" | Update-OfflineAddressBook

Restart Microsoft Exchange File Distribution service on each previously configured distribution points

New OAB folder on DP

7. Set generation time

Set-OfflineAddressBook -Schedule 'Sun.5:00 AM-Sun.6:00 AM, Mon.5:00 AM-Mon.6:00 AM,Tue.5:00 AM-Tue.6:00 AM, Wed.5:00 AM-Wed.6:00 AM, Thu.5:00 AM-Thu.6:00 AM, Fri.5:00 AM-Fri.6:00 AM, Sat.5:00 AM-Sat.6:00 AM' -Identity '\Default Offline Address Book + offline photo'

8. Assign OAB to mailboxes


Assign OAB

I selected a method to assign OAB for each mailbox database. Each mailbox inside database, which doesnt have explicitly defined OfflineAddressBook parameter will get the one from database. Exchange Information Store is using cache so changes will be visible after up to 2 hours of actual setting of database. To perform changes immediately you shoud dismount / mount database, where change must be visible immediately. Command:

Get-DailboxDatabase MDB* | Set-MailboxDatabase -OfflineAddressBook "Default Offline Address Book + offline photo"

9. Download new OAB to mailbox via Outlook

You should check autodiscover record if OAB URL changed from old one to new one.

10. Test offline access

After OAB is successfuly downloaded turn on Offline access and test if OAB can be opened and if Thumbnail photo is visible.

Before change:

OAB before

After change:

OAB after


Exchange blog article

Works for Exchange 2013 as well.


4 thoughts on “Exchange 2013 / 2010 / 2007 – How to configure OAB for offline Thumbnail photo

  1. It does not work for me.
    I can see that photos are already in AD and I followed all your steps but still can’t see photos in outlook 2010 or 2013.
    Surprisingly, I can see staff photos in Outlook 2008 for Mac, I can also see photos on windows 8 tablet’s mail client but not in Windows PC’s outlook!

    • Hi, then I believe it is a problem in download OAB side. Please check if your OAB parameters are correct and you can also use Online mode in Outlook 2010 and 2013 to check if you have photos in AD correctly.

  2. Do you know if one can add a custom AD property – such as msExchResourceCapacity – to the list of ConfiguredAttributes în the Oab?

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