The other day, our Support team deployed a new Skype for Business Server for one of our mid-market customers. Initial thiết đặt went smoothly…they had an existing Office 365 tài khoản, which they wanted lớn integrate. We phối them up on a Hybrid configuration. It went well. Very well.

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Now, if you’ve worked in IT for longer than 2 hours, you know what’s coming next. Something has lớn go wrong.

Fortunately, the ‘something wrong’ wasn’t catastrophic. We had no VPS crash, no hardware failure, no huge configuration snarl. No, we got the “small but annoying” issue. The digital equivalent of a fly buzzing around our heads.

We had a problem with each user account’s Skype avatar photos.

The avatar phokhổng lồ has a few different names: protệp tin phokhổng lồ, skype avatar, O365 avatar, contact phokhổng lồ, và so on. It’s the pholớn people see when they message you on Skype4B or Teams. The pholớn itself lives in your Active sầu Directory, whether local or on Azure, assigned to lớn the user account.

This isn’t the first time we’ve had issues with avatar photos. See my post on making contacts photos display baông chồng in 2017. The issue before us was different from that problem. (We tried those steps just in case; no luck.)

Issue: Avatar Photos for User Accounts Disappear Following Logout

Here’s what happened: A photo upload would go through successfully. We’d log the user out và bachồng in, khổng lồ test the configuration. Most of the configuration stayed in place, as it should. However, the avatar phokhổng lồ then disappeared from the Skype4B client.

We didn’t find any error logged for the photo upload or the configuration changes. The avatar photo lớn just up & vanished. So we continued testing, with standard user accounts, admin accounts, and test/dummy accounts.

Sometimes the avatar photos would stay in place every time. Other times they would disappear right away. Still other times, they would stay put for a few logins, and then vanish. The account’s permissions made no difference.


Not wanting lớn bang our heads on this for endless hours, we contacted Microsoft Support. Their team reported baông chồng that the avatar photo “disappearing act” is a known and ongoing issue.

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Lucky us, we found a bug. (Yes, it buzzed around our heads for a few hours!)

Since this was ongoing at the time (more on that later), the Microsoft engineers didn’t have sầu a permanent fix. Instead, they suggested a workaround: Use the Azure AD portal to upload the photo.

How khổng lồ Resolve sầu the “Disappearing ThumbnailPhoto” Problem in Azure AD

Normally, you would add a phokhổng lồ in Azure AD like this:

Select Azure Active sầu Directory in the left column.Select Users. Locate và clichồng the user you want.On the user’s Profile, cliông xã the Edit button.Locate the file selector field below the thumbnail. Cliông chồng lớn select & upload a new photo lớn.


(Full reference page for Azure AD protệp tin updates, just in case: Add or update a user’s protệp tin information using Azure Active sầu Directory – MS Docs)

However, this method didn’t quite work for us. Why? When accessing user accounts in Azure AD, we had no option to lớn select an image tệp tin. The option’s grayed out.

Turns out if you sync your local AD to Azure, the Azure-cấp độ profile photo lớn option shuts off. You have sầu to lớn update the phokhổng lồ from local AD, & then sync it up to Azure.

Here’s how that works. We’re going into PowerShell folks!

xuất hiện a PowerShell window on the hệ thống in play. Make sure you’ve sầu logged in using an trương mục with administrative permissions.Next, clear any existing phokhổng lồ attribute for the user from Exchange Online. Do this even if you failed khổng lồ upload any photo.Get-UserPhoto lớn “User” | Remove-UserPhotoThen update the ThumbnailPholớn attribute for the user from local AD.Import-Module ActiveDirectory $phokhổng lồ = >(Get-Content C:UsersAdministratorSkypePhotosRandomUser.jpg -Encoding byte)Set-ADUser “User” -Replace
thumbnailPhoto=$photoFinally, run delta sync to force the changes lớn sync up with Azure AD.Start-ADSyncSyncCycle -PolicyType Delta

Result: It worked! The thumbnail photos showed up và stayed up.

Case Closed – Avatar Display Issue Auto-Resolved (Somehow)

In the course of writing this post, my co-worker Larry told me that the ThumbnailPhoto issue had resolved itself. According to him, it “just started working” sometime in April 20trăng tròn. He was right; the same customer where we discovered the issue now had users’ avatar photo lớn appearing without any extra work.

I looked in the release notes for Office 365 và Azure, but I didn’t find any reference to lớn the issue. Here’s the Office 365 Monthly Updates menu, in case it does appear. If you see it, please let me know!

After hearing this, I decided khổng lồ go ahead with the post anyway. The ‘normal’ process of uploading an avatar mentioned above should work for you. If it doesn’t though, the workaround at least gives you an alternate resolution.

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How has your team’s remote adaptation gone? Please comment. I’d love sầu lớn hear how things are going.

Tagged on: configurationInstant Messaging (IM)MicrosoftMicrosoft TeamsOffice 365Skype for BusinessUnified Communications
chris.williamsDecember 9, 2020Microsoft Teams, PowerShell, Reference, Skype for Business, Unified Communications, Voice over IP1 Comment

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