HOW TO: Modify Display Template to make default email address appear in Address Book/GAL

by Bharat Suneja

This was an interesting question posed in exchange.admin today, and it’s been a long while since I made such changes so it took a while to figure this out.

When you go to a recipient’s properties in GAL/Address Book in Outlook, the (default) email address – something you want to find quickly and many a times cut & paste somewhere – does not show up on the General tab. When you go to the E-mail Addresses tab, you see all the recipient’s email addresses – these reside in the proxyAddresses attribute of the recipient. The default address appears with an uppercase SMTP:. However, you can’t cut and paste anything from this tab.

To modify how these things appear, you need to modify the Display Templates. This topic in general isn’t documented very well or as extensively. The Exchange Server 2003 Administration Guide has a little HOW TO procedure documented here. (Update 03/29/2017: The Exchange 2003 Admin Guide is not available on TechNet any more. See Customize details templates).

So let’s get this done!

Open Exchange System Manger | Recipients | Details Templates | English (or choose your locale here) | User [screenshot] | right-click | Properties.

Display templates contain a “Label” – which is the text displayed next to the field, and the actual field itself which displays the data. The location of these objects on the actual form that’s displayed to the user is also shown as X and Y co-ordinates.

Locate the Alias field – the Label for this is called A&lias; (X,Y = 189,30). The & tells the UI that the next character is to be used for the keyboard short-cut. Change this to E-&mail;:

Next, locate the accompanying field at location X=259, Y=28 – it’s an Edit field, and it shows the attribute ms-Exch-Mail-Nickname [screenshot]. You need to change this to the attribute “mail” – which is the default address of the recipient.

Here’s what threw me off – the UI doesn’t list the ldapDisplayNames of attributes! The ldapDisplayName mailNickname logically maps to the ms-Exch-Mail-Nickname attribute. But I could not find anything in the list that would logically map to the “mail” attribute.

I ended up using LDIFDE to dump the attribute with ldapDisplayName=mail – it is called E-mail-Addresses. Going by the name of the attribute, one would think this is for proxyAddresses – there’s only one default email address that shows up in the “mail” attribute, and the attribute itself isn’t multi-valued!

So, let’s go ahead and complete this by selecting E-mail-addresses [screenshot] instead of ms-Exch-Mail-Nickname.

Once you’re done, you can click on the “Test” button to see how it looks.

You would need to make this change to other recipient types – like Group, Public Folder, and Contact. Alternatively, in the templates where you do see extra space, you could perhaps add these as additional fields if you still want to show the Alias.

If your Exchange Org includes servers in different locales with different languages, you will need to make the above change(s) in the Display Templates for all of these.

Cached mode Outlook 2003 clients will see the change once the Offline Address Book is rebuilt – you can do this manually from ESM – right-click on the OAB – select “Rebuild”. Go to the Outlook 2003 client and download the Address Book. Now select a recipient from the Address Book and go to properties | General tab. The Alias field is now replaced with E-mail [screenshot]

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous January 10, 2007 at 3:48 pm

This article was gold!


John February 28, 2007 at 7:28 am

Great article

Is there a way I could add a users picture to the properties page?


Anonymous March 22, 2007 at 9:26 pm

I think the article was great because I have always assumed (and told people) it couldn’t be done.

However, one thing that would be even greater would be the option of changing the fileds displayed in the GAL, not only the properties of an item in the GAL.

What about changing from the default list of feilds in the gal by remove less used fields like “e-mail type” and “email address” (which displays instead the legacyexchangedn) and replacing them with other fields in AD? Is that possible?


Anonymous May 2, 2007 at 5:59 am

Great article but I am trying to find out if its possible to modify/change what fields is shown in the gal list of Outlook… (not the properties of the item). Anyone who knows how this is done if it is possible to do it…?


Bharat Suneja May 2, 2007 at 10:22 am

The fields/columns displayed in the GAL list (not the properties) seem to be hard-coded – afaik, there’s no way to change those.



Anonymous April 23, 2008 at 6:49 am

Is there any way to add IP Telephone in Exchange 2003 GAL.


Anonymous June 16, 2008 at 11:51 am

When you choose a different language i.e. Greek, and click the properties of the User and then Templates tab you get the correct naming of the attributes in greek. But when you click the Test button the window appears with the wrong encoding with ????? characters.
Any ideas why this happens?


erpara November 10, 2008 at 2:25 pm

Thanks for the information – it really helped me out (was trying to figure out how to remove Notes from the GAL and this worked like a charm)


SEO automation March 22, 2013 at 8:31 pm

Hey just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The words in your post seem to be running off the
screen in Firefox. I’m not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let
you know. The design look great though! Hope you get the issue resolved soon.


Svetozar August 26, 2022 at 1:57 am

Very rare and excellent article. I am looking for a way to put link in some field. Is it possible to do that?


Bharat Suneja October 13, 2022 at 2:50 pm

Thanks! Been a while since I worked with this. Wouldn’t hurt to try it.


Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: