Introduction

This article describes the SharePoint Online user profile picture synchronization process in Microsoft 365. This includes information about where you should see the profile pictures and where the profile pictures are stored in SharePoint Online. 

Note: The examples in the Procedure section show only two ways for the photo sync to occur. There are multiple ways to start the photo sync.

Procedure

SharePoint Online picture synchronization for users who have an Exchange Online mailbox

The following steps describe the synchronization process that occurs when you have an Exchange Online mailbox browse to a page in SharePoint Online:

Note: A photo sync is attempted every time you request a profile photo of self or a profile photo of others SharePoint Online.

  1. If you have an Exchange Online mailbox, and the mailbox contains a profile picture for you, SharePoint Online will request the picture from Exchange Online.

  2. SharePoint Online creates a small, medium, and large thumbnail photo from the picture that was returned from Exchange Online. The photos are saved in a folder in the User Photos Library for the My Site Host site collection. The name of the folder will vary, depending on what the My Site Host root web locale is set to at the time of photo upload or synchronization.

  3. The Picture Timestamp, Picture Placeholder State, and Picture Exchange Sync State profile properties for you are set or updated to reflect the profile picture synchronization state.

Note: The Picture Timestamp, Picture Placeholder State, and Picture Exchange Sync State profile properties should never be changed manually.

User Photos Document Library

Your profile pictures are stored in the My Site Host site collection. The My Site Host site collection is created from the SPSMSITEHOST#0 template. When the SharePoint Online tenant is provisioned, a My Site Host site collection is created. The profile pictures are stored in a document library that's named "User Photos." The pictures are stored in a folder inside the User Photo document library by having a .jpg filename extension. The name of the folder will vary, depending on what the My Site Host root web locale is set to at the time of photo upload or synchronization.
 

Note: If the My Site Host root web locale is set to English, the name of the folder will be Profile Pictures.

Profile picture facts

  • Guest user profile pictures aren't synced to SharePoint Online.

  • By default, SharePoint Online provides three placeholder pictures (SThumb.jpg, MThumb.jpg, and LThumb.jpg) for you. 

  • Each profile has a property that is named Picture (PictureUrl) and that points to the medium file (MThumb.jpg) that's located in the My Site Host site collection.

  • By default, the Picture property in your profile application is editable. The property setting must be editable for picture synchronization and for your profile picture upload to be successful.

  • The picture is synced with Exchange Online only one time every 24 hours.

  • The My Site Host site collection must have available quota in order to store new pictures.

  • “PhotoImport” must be allowed in the Exchange Online EwsAllowList in order for profile pictures to sync. For more information, see Control access to EWS in Exchange.

More Information

A profile picture can be added to Exchange Online in multiple ways, as follows: 
 

  • The Exchange administrator can upload a photo to Exchange Online using the Set-UserPhoto PowerShell cmdlet. For more information, see Set-UserPhoto.

  • Upload a picture in Outlook on the web.
     

    Note: The Picture property controls the time during which a user has an Exchange Online Mailbox. Picture Exchange Sync State is set to 1.


    change your photo

  • Select change under their profile picture in the suite navigation bar at the top of the page.

  • Go to the Microsoft 365 Portal, select Personal info, and then select Change Photo under their profile picture. For example, see https://portal.office.com/account/#personalinfo.

  • The ThumbnailPhoto Active Directory attribute is synced to Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) with Azure AD Connect. The thumbnails are then synced to Exchange Online.
     

    Note: This method produces low-resolution profile pictures. The ThumbnailPhoto Active Directory attribute isn't synced to SharePoint from Azure Active Directory.

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