Microsoft Exchange and Blackberry Server Specialists

User Name Changes

A common request is to to adjust the personal details for a user, usually female after a wedding (or a divorce).
This can also be asked for when someone replaces another member of staff.

However, you do have a number of options available to you when making the change. The options depend on how adamant the user is about their former name being totally eradicated.

The Alias Issue

Changing most settings in Exchange is quite easy and is outlined below.

The significant issue is the alias of the account. This is seen by the user's in their auto complete menu, and is the part in < > : Jane Smith <jsmith>.

While you can change the alias quite easily in Active Directory Users and Computers this does have consequences, mainly for other people, not the user who is changing their name.

  • Auto complete entries will no longer work. They will need to be deleted and reselected from the Global Address List.
  • No one will be able to automatically reply to old email that has been sent by the user under the old alias. When clicking Reply they will need to find the user, delete them from the list of recipients and select them from the Global Address List.
  • You may also have problems with users in Outlook 2003 or higher and cached mode. They could have inaccurate information until a new Offline Address Book is generated.

New email and external email (whether inbound or outbound) is not affected.

The same issues occur if you rename an account totally - so the account shows Jane Smith <sjones>

Method One - User Account Rename

If the user is happy for the alias to show the old name, then you can simply rename the account and update display names. This method is not recommended for a new member of staff, as it can cause confusion.

While this is a fairly straightforward process if not done correctly can mean a mixture of the old and the new name appearing throughout the system.

You should also time the change carefully. Make the change out of hours so that old inaccurate information is shown in the GAL for the shortest amount of time. If you have users on cached mode in Outlook 2003 and higher, make the change and then generate a new OAB so that they have an opportunity to get the latest information as soon as possible.

Use ADUC on the Exchange 2003 server. Ensure that the user is logged off when making the change. If a newlywed, during the honeymoon is a perfect time to make the changes.

  1. Start ADUC and find the user listed.
  2. Right click on the user and choose Rename. Correct the name as required and press enter.
  3. A new dialogue box should not be brought up, which gives you the opportunity to correct all aspects, including the username.
    In the example below, we are changing "Hazel Taylor" in to "Hazel Smith".

    Screenshot: Rename User
  4. After pressing ok the main name change has been completed.

Email Addresses

You shouldn't forget to adjust the email address of the user to take in to account the new name.

  1. Right click on user again, and choose Properties.
  2. Click on the "Email Addresses" tab.
  3. Add the new email address in the same format as your existing email addresses. Leave the old address in place.
  4. Change the default address to the new one.
    By doing this, any email sent in on the old address will still be delivered, but all new email will go out with the new address.

Other Settings

  • If you are using some kind of personal drive space on the server that is mapped by username (ie \\server\%username% then you need to rename the folder.
  • On the workstation while the login will be in the new format, the folder in Documents and Settings will be in the old name, and will continue to work. If you want to change that as well, it is best to create a new profile.
    Login as an administrator and rename the profile. A good suggestion is to add the suffix .old - "username.old"
    Login as the user again and a new profile will be created. Copy data and settings from the old profile.

Outlook 2002 (and higher) Auto Complete

One thing that you cannot control is the auto complete on the latest versions of Outlook. You will need to instruct your users on how to clear the old name from the Auto Complete cache, then select the new name from the GAL fresh. Once the new name has been selected once, it will populate the auto complete list.
More information on Auto Complete and working with its cache can be found here.

Method Two - New Account

The second method that you can deal with a user changing their name is to create a new account. The old account is left in place.

To ensure that all email is caught, do the following...

  • Create the new account as normal, and populate it with the correct (new) email address, group memberships etc.
  • Put a new dummy SMTP address on to the old account and set it as default (for example: @
  • Remove the existing SMTP addresses from the old account and put them on to the new account. This means that any email coming in from outside on the old address is delivered to the new mailbox.
  • Exmerge the contents of the old mailbox and import it in to the new one.
  • Configure a forward on the old account to forward to the new account. Active Directory Users and Computers, User Properties, Exchange General, Delivery Options.
  • Hide the account from the global address list, remove its group memberships etc. The account is no longer required for anything other than email, so can have most settings removed.
  • Setup the workstation etc and move the data around to limit the impact of the new account on the user - as explained above under "Other Settings".

The end result on this method is that other's auto complete entries continue to work, replies to old emails get delivered directly (via the old mailbox).