As far as I know, everytime you perform a crawl on the User Profile Service Application certain Active Directory fields are converter or added (if already exist) to the People term-set. We found a quirk that I'd like to know if we could work around.

The User Profile Service Application added a term set called Department and added terms based on the Department field of our users in AD. However, if we change the name of a department in Active Directory the existing term doesn't get updated; a new one gets created.

To give a simple example, the User Profile Service Application will pull in Human Resources as a term for the Department set in the People super-set. Say we have all our new hire documents tagged as Human Resources, but a mandate comes in saying that we need to shorten the Department name to HR. So we do that, and the User Profile Service Application creates a new term, but all our HR documents are now incorrectly configured for search.

Does anyone know if there is a way to configure the User Profile Service Application in such a way that if an option changes in Active Directory (say we change Human Resources to HR) that instead of creating a new term altogether it would update the existing term?

1 Answer 1


One approach you can take is updating the Managed Metadata field first, and then changing it in Active Directory, then running your User Profile Service Application sync then a search crawl.

It doesn't create a duplicate, and as far as I can tell it will resolve itself (since my test showed up under Departments in my refinement panel). I would feel safer configuring the User Profile Service Application to update existing terms, but this is a work-around.

  • I agree, behind the scenes the MM data is a GUID so the term does not matter. You could also merge fields after the fact in the Metadata Manager Mar 30, 2013 at 12:15
  • Actually, that's why the term DOES matter. If all AD did was change the display name associated with the GUID there would be less manual work to do. Otherwise, if you update AD first, then do a Profile Sync you could be left with TONS of incorrectly tagged items. Which is a nightmare for search. Yes, you can "merge" the terms later, but that would still have tons of incorrectly displayed items and also is manual work. Which I think we all in this field can agree we'd like to cut down on as much as possible.
    – EHorodyski
    Mar 30, 2013 at 17:32
  • 2
    Maybe I am not clear on what you've done, but when you merge the term every reference to "Human Resources" would be changed to "HR", to use your example. AD has nothing to do with it. When the UPA finds the term in the term store it uses it, when it doesn't it creates a new term. Mar 30, 2013 at 20:13
  • When you merge terms you can pick which one to use as the displayed name? I wasn't aware of that, I thought both tags would show up in the same search, but if you searched "HR" and it brought back an old document that was tagged when "HR" was named "Human Resources" the tag for that document would remain "Human Resources" -- not change to the merged term name.
    – EHorodyski
    Apr 1, 2013 at 12:12

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