Change the Canonical Name (CN) of an Active Directory User

One of the most annoying things for me (and I assume many other Systems Administrators) is going into an organization and querying users to find all variations of name formats. Some are ‘first name last name’, ‘last name, first name’, or some other variation. It’s almost like an archeological dig where you can see periods of time that there was one format and then later on another format came along.

What’s frustrating is knowing how easy it is to change the format and that it doesn’t happen. It’s fine if the organization wants to change the format, but if that’s the case, then be sure to change the information already contained to match. There is nothing wrong with periodically running a “cleanup” script over Active Directory to make everything uniform. The great thing about Active Directory is that it is a database, it already contains the information. The DisplayName property and the cn are display properties, they can be changed whenever without affecting the user object. Also, running a script like the one below can clean up and make Active Directory uniform in a matter of seconds, if not less.

	# Where the users are located that you want to change
	$exerciseUsersOU = 'OU=USERS,OU=TEMPORARY,DC=aaronrombaut,DC=com'
	# An array of the users (adjust Properties as needed)
	$exerciseUsers = Get-ADUser -Filter * -SearchBase $exerciseUsersOU -Properties Title, GivenName, Surname
	# Loop through all the users
	foreach ($exerciseUser in $exerciseUsers)
		$title = $exerciseUser.Title
		$firstName = $exerciseUser.GivenName
		$lastName = $exerciseUser.Surname
		# The following line will adjust the DisplayName
		Set-ADUser -Identity $exerciseUser -DisplayName "$lastName, $firstName, $title"
		# The following line will adjust the cn
		Rename-ADObject -Identity $exerciseUser -NewName "$lastName, $firstName"

The following images show a before and after but are only a representation of what you can rename from and to. Your organization may use different naming standards. Either way, when standards change, be sure to adjust the objects already present. This will be much more professional and organized.

Before renaming the User
After renaming the User

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