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Searching ADUC for an elusive e-mail address

If you try to add a new e-mail address to Active Directory Users and Computers and it says the address is already in use, you may have to perform a custom search to track down the elusive object currently using that address. SearchExchange.com expert Bharat Suneja explains how.

I want to add an e-mail address to an existing group. But Active Directory Users and Computers (ADUC) says that the address is already in use. I have searched ADUC for users' e-mail addresses, and no user has the address. But, I can't search groups for an e-mail address. How can I find this elusive address?
VIEW MEMBER FEEDBACK TO THIS ASK THE EXPERT Q&A.

Here is a very easy way to do this:

  1. Go to Active Directory Users and Computers
  2. Right-click on your Domain.
  3. Go to Find.
  4. Change the Find dropdown to "Custom Search" (you could also change the "IN" dropdown to "Entire Directory," if you have more than one domain).
  5. Go to Advanced tab.
  6. Type "(proxyAddresses=smtp:user@domain.com)".

This will give you the object -- of any type (user, group, contact, public folders, etc.) -- that has that e-mail address.


MEMBER FEEDBACK TO THIS ASK THE EXPERT Q&A:

It is just as easy to start Microsoft Outlook and create a new mail message. Then put in the elusive SMTP address and see what it resolves to.
—Michael H.

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It is true -- you can easily find out which recipient an email address belongs to by composing a message to the SMTP address and having Microsoft Outlook resolve it to the correct recipient. However, this does not work when the recipient is hidden from address lists.

Further, the GAL and other address lists fetch this information from Active Directory (AD) using an LDAP query. There may be instances where these filters are modified to only pick up certain types of recipients or drop some recipients. For instance, it is common to see a GAL filter modified to drop disabled users. You may also see the default GAL filter modified to not pick up contacts, or contacts with certain attributes.

The method listed in the answer queries AD directly and does not filter out such recipients.
Bharat Suneja, Server Administration Expert

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Does this search mail-enabled public folders?
—Liz P.

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This will give you the object of any type (user, group, contact, public folders, etc.) that has that email address.
Bharat Suneja, Server Administration Expert


Do you have comments on this Ask the Expert Q&A? Let us know.

Related information from SearchExchange.com:

  • 15 tips in 15 minutes: Managing recipients and distribution lists
  • Expert Advice: Lost ability to create Exchange inboxes from ADUC
  • Expert Advice: When a new user doesn't show up in the address list
  • Reference Center: Active Directory tips and resources
  • Dig Deeper on Exchange Server setup and troubleshooting

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