In Office 365, you can upload profile pictures for each user’s contact card. The contact card will appear in Outlook, SharePoint, Lync, Word, Excel, PowerPoint… well, in any Office product that displays contact cards 🙂

Sample Contact Card in Outlook 2013
Sample Contact Card in Outlook 2013

While this isn’t a new concept to Office 2013, and this feature is available in On Premise installations, these articles focus on Office 365.

There are two ways to achieve this:

You’ll find all sorts of confusing information online regarding the dimensions, file size and format restrictions. I found that either of the two methods described in this article will work with almost any file sizes and dimensions.

There are, however, some best practices.

Choose Square Photos

Choose a square image as the source (i.e.: same width and height), otherwise the picture will be cropped when you upload and you may end up with portions of people’s faces being cropped out.

Example of a great picture, wrong shape… (Photo Credit: rubenshito)

Will be automatically cropped to:

Auto-cropped result.

Go for the Max

Lync 2010 supported the ability to view contact photos which were stored as part of the thumbnailPhoto attribute in Active Directory, meaning that pictures could only be 48×48 pixels.

However, Lync 2013 can now store photos in user’s Exchange 2013 mailbox, meaning that it supports images of up to 648×648 pixels.

When you upload a photo to Exchange 2013, it automatically creates 3 versions of the photo:

Size Used By
48×48 Active Directory thumbnailPhoto attribute
96×96 Outlook 2013 Web App
Outlook 2013
Lync Web App
Lync 2013
648×648 Lync 2013
Lync Web App

If you only upload a smaller image (e.g.: 48×48), it’ll be scaled to 96×96 and 648×648, resulting in photos that look fuzzy. However, if you upload photos that are already 648×648. The system will automatically generate 48×48 and 96×96 thumbnails for you.

Original Auto-Scaled
image image image
image image image

(Photo Credit: rubenshito)

Note that if you upload a photo to the thumbnailPhoto in Active Directory, the photo will not be updated in Exchange. If you are lazy like me, you probably want to update photos only once.

My recommendation (and Microsoft’s) is to use 648×648 pixels, 24-bit JPG images.


Microsoft MVP and PnP Team Member. Independent consultant. Certified SCRUM Master. SharePoint, Office 365 and Dynamics 365 are his favourite toys.


  1. Tried all these things and made sure my photo is the exact dimensions, but my Outlook profile photo still looks a little blurry. We also use Skype Business at our company that’s connected through my Outlook profile. My profile photo transferred across communication platforms but looks even blurrier on Skype Business. Any advice?

  2. Steward Thorne Reply

    Well, those methods are fine for single users, but, to be honest, they become a real pain if you have many photos to add at once. I prefer using User Photos for Office 365 ( – it adds photos in bulk and is free.

  3. Great info! Does anyone know of a quick/easy way to crop and resize a pic to the recommended res? Our receptionist currently uses MS Paint which is painful. I’d like an easy solution with minimal 3rd party requirements if possible, that anyone can use, for free. Cheers

  4. Andreas Reply

    Ok, do you know why some jpg images gets rendered black?

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