How To Use Custom Attributes to Organize Recipients in Exchange Server 2003

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SUMMARY

When you install Exchange Server 2003, the Setup program adds many new attributes to the Microsoft Active Directory directory services schema, including custom attribute fields that you can use to add personal information about your users that does not easily fit into the existing fields. Examples of custom attribute fields include employee numbers, health insurance data, or social security information. This step-by-step article describes how to add information to custom attribute fields and how to search for data in these fields.

Requirements

The following list outlines the recommended hardware, software, network infrastructure, and service packs for you to perform the procedures in this article:
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Server with Service Pack 3 (SP3) or later
  • Active Directory
  • Exchange Server 2003
This article assumes that you are familiar with the following topics:
  • Exchange System Manager
  • The Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in

Plan Custom Attributes

When you plan custom attributes, consider the following factors:
  • Use custom attributes for information that is not already included in the user's standard (non-Exchange 2003) Active Directory attributes. Fields to enter an address, a telephone number, an e-mail address, and a Web-site URL already exist.
  • Add custom attributes only for information that is necessary for the efficient operation of your organization. This procedure provides a cost benefit that you can weigh against the expense of entering and maintaining the information in the first place. For example, if you are unlikely to search for employee preferences for vacation schedules, do not add this attribute as a custom attribute.
  • Custom attributes are not multiple-valued, and you can only enter a single string of text. Therefore, custom attributes are unsuitable for recording information such as lists of jobs held and their corresponding dates.
  • Custom attributes have a maximum length of 1024 characters. If you enter more than 1024 characters, the additional characters are not saved.
  • Add fields for information that either rarely changes or that does not change at all -- for example, social security numbers. Information such as monthly expense data or weekly travel mileage is not suitable information to record in this format.
  • Be careful not to record information in custom attributes that may be considered discriminatory. Inform employees about the information that is being stored about them. You can specify this information in their terms and conditions of employment. Be aware of the data-protection legislation for the country or countries where you operate, particularly if the Exchange Server organization has a global scope.

Add Values to the Custom Attribute Fields

To add values to the Custom Attribute fields, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, point to Programs, point to Microsoft Exchange, and then click Active Directory Users and Computers.
  2. Expand Your_Exchange_Organization\Users.
  3. Double-click the user account that you want to add a custom attribute to.
  4. Click the Exchange Advanced tab, and then click Custom Attributes. A list of attributes is displayed. These attributes are named extensionAttributex, where x is a value from 1 through 15.

    Note If you upgraded from Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5 to Exchange 2003, the extensionAttribute10 attribute may be displayed with a value of NTDSNoMatch. This value indicates that this mailbox should not be matched to a corresponding Active Directory user account during the upgrade process.
  5. Double-click an attribute, type the value for the information that you want to store, and then click OK.
  6. Click OK, click OK, and then close Active Directory Users and Computers.

Search for Information in Custom Attributes

To search for information in the custom attributes, follow these steps:
  1. Click Start, point to Programs, point to Microsoft Exchange, and then click Active Directory Users and Computers.
  2. Right-click the domain or the organizational unit that you want to search, and then click Find.
  3. Click the Advanced tab, and then click Field.
  4. Click User, and then click Custom Attribute x, where x matches the number of the attribute that you used when you added data in step 4 of the "Add Values to the Custom Attribute Fields" section.
  5. In the Condition list, click one of the following options, depending on the information that you are trying to find:
    • Starts with
    • Ends with
    • Is(exactly)
    • Is not
    • Present
    • Not present
    If you click either Starts with, Ends with, Is(exactly), or Is not as your condition, type a value in the Value field. For example, type rob to find words such as "Robinson," "Roberts," and "Robard."
  6. Click Add if you want to add more conditions, but note that the applicable logic is "AND." This means that all conditions must be true for a match to be displayed.
  7. Click Find Now. Matches are listed in the new list that is displayed at the bottom of the Find Users, Contacts, and Groups dialog box.
  8. Double-click any entry in the list to edit that entry.
  9. Close the Find Users, Contacts, and Groups dialog box.

Confirm That You Configured Custom Attributes Correctly

To confirm that the search procedure works:
  1. Type a known value in the extensionAttribute1 attribute for a number of users.
  2. Open the Find Users, Contacts, and Groups dialog box, and then search for the exact value that you entered in the search condition for Custom Attribute 1.

Troubleshooting

You cannot change the display names for the extensionAttributex attribute in the user account properties, nor can you change the Custom Attribute X entry in the field list in the Find Users, Contacts, and Groups dialog box. This problem occurs because extensionAttributex is the LDAPDisplayName attribute for this object in Active Directory, and extensionAttributex is uniquely defined in the schema. If you use the ADSIEdit tool to change the LDAPDisplayName attribute, you will receive an error message if you try to modify or view the list of custom attributes on a user account.

Searches may not return hits for the following reasons:
  • You entered data incorrectly in the custom attributes fields.
  • You spelled the search condition information incorrectly.
  • You applied the wrong logic.
To confirm that a value exists in a custom attributes field, run a search that has the search condition of "Present."

REFERENCES

For more information about how to configure custom attributes in Exchange Server 2003, see the Exchange Server 2003 Resource Kit and Exchange Server 2003 Help.

Properties

Article ID: 821747 - Last Review: October 25, 2007 - Revision: 1.4
APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Enterprise Edition
  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 Standard Edition
Keywords: 
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