I am a beginner SharePoint developer, here is my question

The people picker fields in SharePoint, fetches data from user profile or AD?

How do I sync user profile to AD?


2 Answers 2


Answering your questions specifically:

  1. The people picker pulls from AD. It can be configured to filter on specific OU and Forest, but by default it searches AD.
  2. The User Profile Synchronization service in SharePoint 2013 uses a build of ForeFront Identity Manager or direct AD synchronization. The default is to IMPORT from AD to SharePoint UPS. Your question is directional, "sync User Profile to AD" that would be an EXPORT and can be configured in SharePoint 2013 provided you follow the guidance and allow the UPS Service account WRITE permissions on AD. If you are using SharePoint 2016/2019 you must use and external Identity Manager or roll your own synchronization back to AD. It is not provided out of the box.

By default SharePoint doesn't get a lot of profile information for the AD and only when a use first accesses the SharePoint Farm.

If you want to have full profile information, you need to configure the User Profile service. And this is not always en easy thing to do. Depending on your SharePoint version, I would opt for AD import if you need only info from the AD. If you need to write back data to the AD you need to configure a sync.

Your options all depend on the version you are running and can be very different between 2010, 2013 and 2016.

This gives you an idea how to properly configure the sync for 2010 (and I think most of it applies to 2013 as well) http://www.harbar.net/articles/sp2010ups.aspx

And for the AD import: http://www.harbar.net/archive/2012/07/23/sp13adi.aspx

I'm only referencing this site http://www.harbar.net, as he is the guru regarding User Profiles.

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