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Set-ADUser Modify Active Directory Users with PowerShell

by | Apr 30, 2021

The Set-ADUser cmdlet allows to modify properties of users (attributes) in Active Directory with PowerShell.

As a part of our Server Management Services, we assist customers with several Powershell queries.

Let us today discuss how to use the Set-ADUser cmdlet to modify user properties in AD.

Set-ADUser  Modify Active Directory Users with PowerShell

The Set-ADUser cmdlet is part of the Active Directory module for Windows PowerShell

The Get-ADUser cmdlet has about 50 options related to AD attributes (City, Company, Department, Description, EmailAddress, MobilePhone, Organization, UserPrincipalName, etc.). We can display the list of available attributes using the following command:

Get-Help Set-ADUser -Parameter *|ft

Set-ADUser Modify Active Directory Users with PowerShell
The name of a user we want to change AD attributes for is specified in the mandatory Identity option (we can specify it as an sAMAccountName, SID, Distinguished Name or objectGUID).

For example, let us get the value of the Title attribute of a user using the Get-ADUser cmdlet:

Get-ADUser -Identity C.Bob -Properties title|select-object name,title

Then change its job title in AD:

Set-ADuser C.Bob –title “Junior Engineer”

We can change the values of multiple attributes at once. For example, let us set a new email address and a list of computers a user is allowed to log on to:

Set-ADUser C.Bob –EmailAddress [email protected] –LogonWorkstations 'munx32f2r13,munx32f2r15'

The following command will disable a user account in the domain:

Set-ADUser C.Bob -Enabled $False

We can change a user photo in AD:

Set-ADUser C.Bob -Replace @{thumbnailPhoto=([byte[]](Get-Content "C:\scripts\ad\c.bob.jpg" -Encoding byte))}

We can edit values of other user attributes (including extensionAttribute and custom attributes) in AD using these Set-ADUser options:

  • Add – adds an attribute value
  • Replace – replaces an attribute value
  • Clear – clears an attribute value
  • Remove — removes one of the attribute values

For example, to change a user phone number, we may use this command:

Set-ADUser C.Bob -MobilePhone $NewNumber


Set-ADUser C.Bob -replace @{'MobilePhone' = $($Number) }

To add a new value to the extensionAttribute5:

Set-ADUser C.Bob -Add @{extensionAttribute5 = "Test1"}

To clear an attribute value:

Set-ADUser C.Bob -Clear "extensionAttribute5"

We can change values of multiple attributes at a time:

Set-ADUser C.Bob -Replace @{title="Senior Engineer";company="XYZ"}

Also, using these options, we can change multi-valued attributes. For example, let us add multiple ProxyAddresses (email aliases) to a user:

Set-ADUser C.Bob -add @{ProxyAddresses="smtp:[email protected], ,SMTP:[email protected] " -split ","}


How to Bulk Modify Active Directory Users Attributes with Set-ADUser in Powershell

We can change the attributes of multiple users at once. For example, the following command will change the value of UserAccountControl attribute and force all users from the specified OU to change their passwords at the next logon:

Get-ADUser -Filter * -SearchBase "OU=Users,OU=DE,DC=bobcares,DC=loc" | Set-ADUser -ChangePasswordAtLogon $true

We can bulk update the AD user attributes with the values from a CSV file. For example, we have a CSV file with the list of accounts, titles and phone numbers (the file format is: SamAccountName, Title, MobilePhone).

To update user attributes using the values from the CSV file, run the following PowerShell command:

Import-Csv "C:\scripts\ad\update_ad_users.csv" | foreach {Set-ADUser -Identity $_.SamAccountName –Title $_.Title -MobilePhone $_.MobilePhone}

How to Show User’s Logged on Computer Name in ADUC

Let us try to add information about a computer a user has logged on to the user properties in Active Directory.

To do it, it is enough to add the following PowerShell script to the logon GPO scripts to be run when a user logs on to the computer (User Configuration -> Policies -> Windows Settings -> Scripts -> Logon):

Set-ADUser -identity $env:UserName –Description $env:computername

The script assumes that the PowerShell module for Active Directory is installed on users’ computers. If we do not want to install RSAT on all computers, we can use the AD PowerShell module without installation by copying its files to all computers using GPO or a logon script.

This will allow us to find the name of the computer that the user logged on to.

In this example, we save the name of the current computer to the standard Description attribute. We can use another attribute, say one of ExtensionAttributes.

Common error

While trying to update user properties using Set-ADUser, we received the following error:

Set-ADUser : replace
At C:\ADUpdate.ps1:30 char:1
+ Set-ADUser -Identity $ -Department $_.department -title $_.titl ...
+ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
+ CategoryInfo : InvalidOperation: (BobUser:ADUser) [Set-ADUser], ADInvalidOperationException
+ FullyQualifiedErrorId : ActiveDirectoryServer:0,Microsoft.ActiveDirectory.Management.Commands.SetADUser

We can use the Set-ADUser command as given below:

Set-ADUser -Identity $ -Department $_.department -title $_.title -Office $ -StreetAddress $_.streetAddress -State $_.state -PostalCode $_.postalCode -MobilePhone $ -OfficePhone $_.telephoneNumber -City $

The error occurs because command used is incorrect.

So, use the below command instead:

Set-ADUser -Identity $ -Department $department -title $title -Office $office -StreetAddress $streetAddress -State $state -PostalCode $postalCode -MobilePhone $mobile -OfficePhone $telephoneNumber -City $city

[Need any further assistance with Powershell? – We’re available 24*7]


In short, the Set-ADUser cmdlet is part of the Active Directory module for Windows PowerShell. Today we discussed how our support engineers use the Set-ADUser cmdlet to modify user properties in AD.


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