When I create a new account in Active Directory, I enter the new user's first name and last name, and it auto-fills the full name in the form "First Last". Can I set AD to use "Last, First" instead? The domain controller is currently Server 2003.


You'll need to edit the createDialog attribute of the displaySpecifier named CN=user-Display to alter the default format in ADUC.

  1. Launch adsiedit.msc
  2. Right-click the root and choose "Connect to..."
  3. On the "Select well known Naming Context" choose "Configuration"
  4. Expand "Configuration", on the left pane and drill down:
    • CN=Configuration,DC=example,DC=com
    • CN=DisplaySpecifiers
    • CN=409 (Note this is for EN-US, you need to select your domain's locale)
    • CN=user-Display
  5. Open the properties of this specifier.
  6. Change the createDialog attribute to %<sn>, %<givenName>

This is documented, in more detail, in MS support Article ID: 250455

How to change display names of Active Directory users.

Edit: To answer, possibly, your next question, you can change the existing displayName attributes of users with the following Powershell.

The LDAP filter will select users with a populated displayName, but will exclude users if displayName contains a comma.

Get-ADUser -LDAPFilter "(&(objectCategory=person)(!displayName=*,*)(displayName=*))" |
    ForEach-Object {  
        Set-ADUser $_ -DisplayName "$($_.Surname), $($_.givenName)"
  • You can as @jscott provided, but make sure you have a very clear, very well thought out business reason for making a schema change like this. Many utilities and applications use the default. Generally speaking, this change isn't a breaking change (its usually a sort order or display issue), but it is painful when it occurs. – Jim B Jan 27 '12 at 16:04
  • 3
    @JimB Changing an object in the Configuration partition is not a schema change, and nothing enforces the display name format - it's simple to change the display name away from the auto-generated one after or even during user creation. This change is just a "convenience" one to prevent needing to manually edit the display name that's generated when you input the first name, last name, and initial. – Shane Madden Jan 28 '12 at 0:05
  • @ShaneMadden Updated to remove my misuse of terminology -- apologies. – jscott Jan 28 '12 at 0:24
  • 3
    This is great! It always irked me to have to change the display name format during user creation, can't wait to implement this one. – HostBits Jan 28 '12 at 0:46
  • @ShaneMadden Correct it's not a schema change (I wasn't about to write a missive on what is and isnt a schema change) however this is certainly not a "convienience" change and can break things that are not exactly up to spec (I'm looking at you Cisco Unity...) in they way they lookup and provide names – Jim B Jan 29 '12 at 7:22

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