Crawling User Profiles in SharePoint Online

Pieter Veenstra

by Pieter Veenstra on 4/22/2016

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Article Details

Date Revised:

Applies to:
Office 365, Search, SharePoint Online, user profile

How long does it take to update user profiles in SharePoint Online so search can pick up the changes? Unfortunately, you cannot know until it happens and you don’t have control over it. Microsoft does not provide a re-index user profiles for SharePoint Online during crawl button. I think we should vote this up on UserVoice.

Looking at articles like Chris O’Brien’s and the answers from Microsoft, I’m worrying about any search queries related to user profiles in SharePoint Online. Of course, changes might take a while to come through, but after 15 minutes, continuous crawls should pick up changes in my data.

So I made a couple of changes at 8:02pm this evening.

  1. I changed a text fields value.
  2. I changed a mapping of 3 existing RefinableString managed properties to include People:Division, People:Facility, People:Function.
  3. I changed a value of the Division, Facility and Function taxonomy fields in my user profile.
  4. I added a new profile photo to my profile. (I noted that the edit user profile option actually doesn’t change the photo immediately. While Delve and my photo in the right top corner do change.)
update user profiles in Office 365 or update user profiles in SharePoint Online

I also created a page with a content search web part (using the diagnostic display template), a search box and a refinement panel.

Within the content search web part, I configured some of my fields.

At around 8:20pm, I noticed that my photo had already updated. My text field and my taxonomy field, however, are still the same as before.

I waited. In general, Office 365 matches default settings of on-premises settings. So a continuous crawl should happen after 15 minutes. I’m on a quiet system so there is no chance that my search is overloaded.

I wish that user profiles had the same option as lists and libraries to re-index during the next crawl:

SharePoint Reindex List button

While I’m waiting, I’m thinking about the profile image being refreshed and then I remembered the profile photos list. So that would be a URL like this: Photos/Profile Pictures/pieterveenstra_mytenant_onmicrosoft_com_MThumb.jpg

Ah, so the photo lives within SharePoint rather than within the user profile, and therefore it is being picked up. I guess looking at the URL, the actual jpg name would not have changed when I updated the photo.

Meanwhile, I’m still waiting and I’m expected to be waiting for a weekly crawl of the user profiles.

And just as I’m about to publish this article with a disappointing feeling … My changes are coming through. it is now 8:37 pm. So that took roughly 35 minutes. But only 1 of my 3 custom properties in my user profiles had come through.

I found quite quickly that the crawled properties for two of my fields didn’t exist. So I had to randomly change my data a few times so that first the crawled property is created for my fields and then change it again so that the mapping in the mapped property takes effect.

I really wish Microsoft would give us a re-index user profiles button somewhere. This is making development a painful process.

If a baby can do it, then why can’t Microsoft sort out these crawls in SharePoint Online?

If you would like a re-index user profiles option, then vote here on UserVoice:

Reindex User Profiles Option
I suggest you ….
1 vote
When crawling user profiles, there is no control over when crawls happen or when changed details are picked up. When changing Managed Properties, you never know when these changes are applied as user profiles aren't changed and therefore continuous crawls will not run.
I propose that an option t…

You can read Pieter’s original post here:

Topic: Search

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