Where does "People Picker" get its info?

Where does the People Picker (used with a field like "Person or Group") get its information?  I thought it was User Profiles, but apparently not.

We have a user whose last name changed.  The fields in Active Directory were updated - her AD account was renamed from MYDOMAIN\tsmith to MYDOMAIN\tjones and her display name was changed from "T Smith" to "T Jones".

I did a User Profile incremental sync, and her user profile now shows her correct name in SharePoint.  (SP 2010 SP1)

When someone tries to use the People Picker in a Person or Group field (for example), if I search on her old last name (smith) it does not find her.  That's correct.

If I search on her new last name (jones), it does find her.  That's correct.

But the "Display Name" column in the People Picker window still shows her old last name.  The "Account Name" column in there shows her renamed account name (MYDOMAIN\tjones), but the Display Name is incorrect.

How does it get the data for the "Display Name" column?  Is it cached?  How do I get that updated?


November 9th, 2011 8:22pm

This is because of the entry in the user information list for that user. Type in following in the URL http://{SiteCollectionURL}/_catalogs/users/detail.aspx

 and look out for that user. See what is the name you get if it is indeed the old Display Name, one suggestion that I have is to remove the user completely from the entire site collection and add him / her again. You can do this provided you are sure that it is simple for you to add the user on the site and in SharePoint groups. 

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November 9th, 2011 8:37pm


The link below tells you all you need to know about People picker. I agree with Mayur, you can remove the user from user profile and then perform a full sync, importing new users to your profile DB.



November 9th, 2011 8:48pm

When I use the URL you gave (detail.aspx), it shows the old Display Name.

But I'm not clear on how you "remove the user completly from the entire site collection".

We do not specifically add individual users.  They are given permission via AD groups.

I deleted the user's profile, then did a profile sync.  The profile shows the correct Display Name (it did before deleting and syncing also).

However, the people picker still shows the old name.


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November 10th, 2011 3:27am


I deleted the user's profile and did a sync.  The user profile shows the correct name (it did before I deleted it also).  But the people picker still shows the old name.


November 10th, 2011 3:31am

People Picker gets its info directly from Active Directory or if you've configured a non-standard source (via FBA, ADFSv2, etc.).
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November 10th, 2011 3:50am


How did you rename your user in AD? Did you right click it and choosed to rename? If not you should consider using this method. By using this method you can change displayName, CN and SamAccountName.

More reading here:



November 10th, 2011 8:55am

As Henrik already stated, I am guessing the error is on the AD.

Check what AD field corresponds with the display name field and make sure that is changed in AD as well.

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November 10th, 2011 9:04am

I thought the problem was in AD also, but I used "Active Directory Explorer" from the Sysinternals utilities (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb963907) and when I view the AD attributes of that user, there are no references whatsoever to her old name.  Every attribute that has her name has the new name, including:


November 10th, 2011 1:46pm

Why do things get marked as "answers" when I (the original poster) have not said anything has shown what the problem is?

That makes these forums much less useful.


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November 10th, 2011 4:25pm

Let's do this, hit the below URL 



Look for the user that has old name, select the checkbox, click on Actions -> Delete User From Site Collection. Once you do that ask the user to log back in the site and see what you get. 


November 10th, 2011 7:24pm


That did change the name in the people picker!

The user is a remote user, so I will see what happens when she tries to access the site.



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November 10th, 2011 7:41pm

Perfect. Do close the thread if it resolves. 


November 14th, 2011 7:51pm

Thanks Joshi,

That was my biggest problem here but your reply fixed it easy

man you saved days and days with Microsoft  rep and he did not get it as you did


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November 5th, 2012 6:30pm

I used to solve this problem the way Mayur suggests, but I found it was wiping out the profile linked to when the user was noted in a Person field (ex: Created By and Modified By). Found that Move-SPUser (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff607729.aspx) generally works better because it keeps the integrity of the old Person field references.
November 27th, 2012 9:57pm

THX for all replies. But i've found another solution - commandlet Set-SPUser. My solution was

Set-SPUser -Identity "<domain\username>" -web "<SiteURL>" -SyncFromAD

But how to configure SharePoint to make these updates automatically. I can't watch all updates of DisplayName of more than 20k users

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December 3rd, 2012 7:04am

You need to use the User Profile Service to automatically import and update attributes like this.
December 3rd, 2012 3:55pm

The User Profile Service does not update the name that the People Picker uses.
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December 3rd, 2012 4:01pm

Yes, it does.  In addition to the UPA updating the UIL via the SharePoint Full/Quick sync timer jobs, and the People Picker pulling from the UIL along with Active Directory and any other configured connection, it will also pull from the Root Organization.

At any rate, Set-SPUser updates the UIL.  Automating the update to the UIL is done via the UPA timer jobs.

December 3rd, 2012 5:14pm

deleting the user from the "all people" section of the site has worked for me as well. This i guess forces it to get an update from AD and not use what is cached.. somewhere...

it should be noted however that "Set-SPUser -Identity..." no longer seems to work. I only get errors when trying to do it that way. And if you have subsites, you need to add the subsite as well so like:


in my case, the parent site (sitecollectionURL) had no users at all in "all people" because its just a collection of subsites.

And you seem to have to do it for every subsite with this problem. Annoying... but at least i can edit it now and its not got a title cached from a year ago. I disagree with anyone who says that this particular thing (autocomplete people picker) auto updates from AD when you change a name or attribute like title. it does not.

If you use the people picker to look up someone and save the list item, then change their title in AD, their title in sharepoint (which i might add does not appear anywhere, their title on the All people page was BLANK) people picker autocomplete will not be changed.

Of course if you click on the little book, it will be correct, but the autocomplete popup will have the wrong title unless you do what is stated above, delete the user from the all people section.

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July 8th, 2015 5:57pm

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