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Add additional columns in Active Directory

Active Directory Users and Computers (ADUC) is the Microsoft Management Console snap-in to administer Active Directory (AD). Every IT engineer who works with Windows Server knows the Active Directory console. We can add and remove columns in ADUC, but we don’t have the option to choose more columns than the available list. What if we want to add an attribute to the Active Directory console column? In this article, we will show how to add additional columns in Active Directory.

Introduction

The IT service desk likes to have two columns in Active Directory Users and Computers (ADUC). These attributes are:

  • Operating system
  • Mobile

Discussing with the internal team that they can use PowerShell scripts to check both the values is not an option. Creating a PowerShell script with a GUI that will show the values was also an extra application for them to use what they didn’t want. That’s because they want to manage everything from the ADUC console, and it’s much easier for the team.

This is how it looks in the Organizational Unit Desktops.

OU Desktops

This is how it looks in Organizational Unit IT.

OU IT

Now let’s look at how to add additional attributes to the Active Directory column.

Available columns in Active Directory

Check the available columns in Active Directory by following the below steps:

  • Sign in to the Domain Controller
  • Start Active Directory Users and Computers
  • Click in the menu on View
  • Select from the dropdown menu on Add/Remove Columns…
Add additional columns in Active Directory add/remove columns

You will see Available columns and Displayed columns.

Note: The available columns can vary, and it depends on selecting Organizational Unit or Container.

Add additional columns in Active Directory columns

The below available columns show up, which are the default to select from:

Available columnsDisplayed columns
Business PhoneName
CityType
CompanyDescription
Country/Region
Department
Display Name
E-mail Address
Exchange Alias
Exchange Mailbox Store
First Name
Instant Messaging Home Server
Instant Messaging URL
Job Title
Last Name
Modified
Office
Phonetic Company Name
Phonetic Department
Phonetic Display Name
Phonetic First Name
Phonetic Last Name
Pre-Windows 2000 Logon Name
State
Target Address
User Logon Name
x.400 E-mail Address
Zip Code

There is no Mobile, Operating System, or other additional columns in the Add/Remove Columns window.

extraColumns attribute

To add a column to the list, add a value to the extraColumns attribute of the display specifier for the object type that the attribute is associated with. The extraColumns attribute is a multi-valued string attribute where each string is in the following format.

ldapdisplayname,column header,default visibility,width,unused
ValueDescription
ldapdisplaynameContains a string that represents the ldapDisplayName of the attribute.
column headerContains a string that represents the text displayed in the header for the column.
default visibilityContains a numeric value that is 0 if the attribute is hidden by default or 1 if the attribute is visible by default.
widthContains the width of the column in pixels. If this value is -1, the width of the column is set to the width of the column header.
unusedUnused. Must be zero.

Add additional columns in Active Directory

Let’s add additional columns in Active Directory Users and Computers console. Follow the below steps to connect to ADSI Edit:

  • Open Administrative Tools or type adsiedit.msc in the Windows Search
  • Start ADSI Edit
  • Right-click ADSI Edit in the left pane and select Connect to
  • Select Configuration in the well known Naming Context
  • Click OK
Add additional columns in Active Directory ADSI Edit connect to configuration

Navigate in ADSI Edit:

CN=organizationalUnit-Display,CN=409,CN=DisplaySpecifiers,CN=Configuration,DC=exoip,DC=local

We did select the folder with number 409 in DisplaySpecifiers, which is the English language. If you have a different Windows Server language, choose that instead.

Right-click CN=organizationalUnit-Display and click Properties.

Add additional columns in Active Directory CN=organizationalUnit-Display Properties

Find the attribute extraColumns. By default, it’s empty, and the value is not set.

Add additional columns in Active Directory extraColumns not set

Add the below value to the attribute extraColumns to display the Mobile in Active Directory.

mobile,Mobile,0,150,0
Add additional columns in Active Directory extraColumns mobile

Select custom column in Active Directory

Follow the steps below to add the custom column in Active Directory:

  • Close ADUC and ensure that there are no sessions open
  • Start ADUC
  • Go to the OU with the users
  • Click in the menu on View
  • Select from the dropdown menu on Add/Remove Columns…
  • Select Mobile from the Available columns

Note: You will only see the custom column to select from in the available columns section, which is the correct behavior. We will explain why this happens and how to correct this down below.

Add additional columns in Active Directory available column mobile

The Mobile column is successfully added to Active Directory console.

Active Directory column mobile

Copy extraColumns values

To add one or more columns to the list of columns for a specific object, you must copy all of the extraColumns values from the default-Display object to the target object and then add the custom columns.

If you specify the extraColumns attribute on a given class, then that class will use those columns and not merge them with the columns specified in the default-Display class. Therefore, further changes to the default-Display class will not affect that object.

Right-click on CN=default-Display and select Properties.

Add additional columns in Active Directory CN=default-Display properties

Find the attribute extraColumns and double-click on it.

Add additional columns in Active Directory extraColumns values

These are all the default values that you can select from in the Add/Remove Columns.

Add additional columns in Active Directory extraColumns default values

Let’s copy the CN=default-Display extraColumns attribute values to the CN=organizationalUnit-Display extraColumns attribute values.

You can write the values down and manually enter them over. Another way is to use PowerShell and copy all the extraColumns values from the Default-Display object. With PowerShell, it’s faster, and you will not make any mistakes.

  • Run PowerShell as administrator
  • Copy below script
  • Change the language on line 1
  • Run the script

In our example, we have the English language so we use the number 409.

$Language = 409
$Config = (Get-ADRootDSE).configurationNamingContext
$ouDisplaySpecifier = Get-ADObject -Identity "CN=organizationalUnit-Display,CN=$Language,CN=DisplaySpecifiers,$Config" -Properties *
$defaultDisplaySpecifier = Get-ADObject -Identity "CN=default-Display,CN=$Language,CN=DisplaySpecifiers,$Config" -Properties *
$extraColumns = $ouDisplaySpecifier.extraColumns
$extraColumns += $defaultDisplaySpecifier.extraColumns
Set-ADObject $ouDisplaySpecifier -Replace @{extraColumns=$extraColumns}

Everything is copied successfully and it preserved the mobile value, which we did set in earlier step.

Add additional columns in Active Directory extraColumns copied values

Close ADUC and ensure that there are no sessions open. Next, start ADUC and go to the Add/Remove Columns window. The default available columns will show, and the additional column too.

Let’s select the column City from the available columns.

Add additional columns in Active Directory extraColumns

It looks great.

Active Directory column city

Add more additional columns in Active Directory

The same steps apply if you want to have other columns in Active Directory.

For example, we must add the below value to the CN=organizationalUnit-Display extraColumns attribute to display the Operating System in Active Directory.

operatingSystem,Operating System,0,150,0
Add additional columns in Active Directory extraColumns operating system

Close ADUC and ensure that there are no sessions open. Next, start ADUC and go to the Add/Remove Columns window. Select the column Operating System from the available columns.

The column Operating System will be visible in ADUC.

Active Directory column operating system added

That’s it!

Read more: Get Active Directory count with PowerShell »

Conclusion

You learned how to add additional columns in Active Directory. First, copy the extraColumns values from default-Display object to organizationalUnit-Display object with PowerShell. After that, add the values in the extraColumns attribute that you want to see in Active Directory as columns. Don’t forget to close all ADUC sessions and start a new ADUC session before you can select the columns in Add/Remove columns.

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ALI TAJRAN

ALI TAJRAN

ALI TAJRAN is a passionate IT Architect, IT Consultant, and Microsoft Certified Trainer. He started Information Technology at a very young age, and his goal is to teach and inspire others. Read more »

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Great write-up, thank you Ali! A quick question – I used this method to add “LastLogon” column for users; the column is added and is shown in the view, but it does not show the value of the “LastLogon” field of the user account – it shows blank instead. Is there a trick to display dates/times in this manner?
    Thank you

    1. Unfortunately, some attributes will not appear in ADUC when you add them into ADSI Edit. One of them is the LastLogon attribute.

      I am afraid that the best way is using PowerShell to populate the LastLogon value.

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