In Active Directory, we populate the Mailnickname with a single, suitable value (EmployeeId in this case).

When a user goes to outlook, enters the mailnickname (employeeId), Outlook will look in the GAL (and a local cache first, but that is irrelevant to this question). See Example 1.

If we wanted to implement several "mailnicknames" per user, how could that be done? Forget about the specific field "mailnickname", which is a single string property - but some other way to enter one of a series of "mailnicknames"/aliases into outlook - and have it find the right person. See example 2.

Example 1 (standard functionality)

  • User: Bob
  • Mailnickname(s): {123}

In outlook to-field, I enter: 123 - and it finds Bob's account.

Example 2 (desired functionality)


  • User: Bob
  • Mailnickname(s): {123,456,789}

In outlook to-field, I enter: 123 - and it finds Bob's account.

In outlook to-field, I enter: 456 - and it finds Bob's account.

In outlook to-field, I enter: 789 - and it finds Bob's account.

Are there any fields in AD/Exchange, that are suitable for this scenario? Are there other ways to accomplish the same functionality?


I can appreciate why this sounds like a strange requirement. I will explain the background.

In the company HR system, people get assigned an ID (123, 456 etc). That ID is then used as their login (samaccountname).

Certain changes in their employment status will trigger that they need to get assigned an additional HR ID to deal with taxes, reporting etc. To avoid the end user having to remember a new ID, having to rename their AD account and a bunch of accounts in other related systems, we keep using their first ID as their samaacountname. We also set this HR ID as a mailnickname.

If I want to send an email to somebody, I will ask for their HR ID and enter it in the to-field, and it will resolve. That works very well, and people outside HR rarely see the second (or third) HR ID.

But on some reports and screens in the HR system, what is visible is the second (or third) HR ID, not the one that corresponds with their samaccountname and mailnickname.

So then the question then is, can we add these second and third HR IDs as some sort of alias, so they would resolve. We already have full integration between HR system and management of AD accounts, so if we can find an exchange/AD way of doing it, implementing it is straight-forward.



First, I'm not sure why the functionality would even be necessary. Why would some people want to find Bob as 123 and some as 456? Wouldn't that confuse people? If Mary and Jane sit next to each other and Gail comes up and says "you guys know what Bob's email address is?" and Mary says "sure type 123 in the To box" and Jane says "no, you type 456"...I would think users would get confused.

However, there usually is a similar need for something like this. While an Exchange account can only have a single Alias it can have multiple email addresses (proxyaddress attribute), with one being the Primary/Sending address.

With Bob here you would create in his Exchange account multiple SMTP addresses:

bob@domain.com - Set as Primary




This would give you the Auto-Resolve (not to be confused with AutoComplete) functionality you are talking about.

  • I have to agree that I don't get how this scenario would be useful. – joeqwerty Dec 11 '13 at 14:39
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    @joeqwerty - the only possible thing I can think of is with names like Anthony or Robert or similar. I've had people in the past say "I can't find Tony in the GAL!" ...um that's because he's under Anthony. "Why? Everyone knows him as Tony!" ...well too bad...HR knows him as Anthony, so he's Anthony in AD/Exchange. – TheCleaner Dec 11 '13 at 14:44
  • I have explained the background more. :) This solution was also the best we could come up with internally, but I was hoping for something along the lines of a multivalue mailnickname field. :) – Kjensen Dec 11 '13 at 15:03
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    Best I can say is that the mailnickname is a single value attribute. If you wanted to get fancy enough you could autocreate the extra proxyaddress attributes using your sync from your HR system. You can set custom attribute values in Exchange with these extra ID's but it wouldn't give you AutoResolve functionality, just extra attributes in their account. – TheCleaner Dec 11 '13 at 15:29

We have this same issue and came up with solution: Change their "Display name" in AD.

You can set: First name - Robert,
Last name - Smith,
Display name - Bob Smith,
Alias - robertsmith

This will allow you to search for the user by Robert, Bob or Smith.

Someone asked "why do this"? Well, some people go by a certain name and introduce themselves this way. Robert tells everyone his name is "Bob" and has been doing it his whole life. He wants to update his email because it confuses people when they search for him.

The problem with this is - how are new users setup? What is the policy for the names of users? HR gives us his legal name and we setup Robert before hand but what if Robert wants to be changed to Bob later? What would our name policy be? Would we change anyone's name if they asked? How much extra work is that? If you have SSO systems and you are updating usernames/emails, that might be a ton of extra work every time someone asks for this change.

Our policy is - HR gives us the legal name and that is how we setup the user. If the user wants to change their display name because that is how they are known, we put in an approval ticket for it and then change that display name and we don't have to worry about changing any other systems due to the change.

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