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 photoUserProfile immediately. While Delve and my photo in the right top corner do change)

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.

Then 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:


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:

https:/ /mytenant-my.sharepoint.com/User 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 disappointiwaitingng 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 there was this 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?

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


By Pieter Veenstra

Business Applications and Office Apps & Services Microsoft MVP working as a Microsoft Productivity Principal Consultant at HybrIT Services. You can contact me using contact@veenstra.me.uk.

2 thoughts on “Office 365 – Crawling User Profiles in SharePoint Online”
    1. Hi Dimitar, indeed updating user profiles is one way to force a re-index of the user profiles. However I don’t really like to update any data in SharePoint just for search reasons.

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