The user profiles in SharePoint have a number of configurable settings for the each of user profile properties. I’ve created a few custom properties and now I’m looking into the Privacy settings.

Privacy settings are part of the policy settings.


The first part of the policy setting is Required, Optional or Disabled. Well this is quite obvious.

Then the Default Privacy Setting. This makes the property visible or not to other users.

The user can override or not. So within the user profile editing Everyone
dialogs users will either get a drop down or not.


Then the final option is Replicable. The comment here says:

Select the Replicate check box if you want the property to display in the user info list for all sites. To replicate properties, the default privacy must be set to Everyone and the User can override checkbox must not be selected.

Well what does that mean then? The user information list is nicely described by Tobias Zimmergren.

Ok that is all about the User Profile properties.

Back to the Privacy settings that I’m actually interested in. My customer suggested that they would like the privacy settings set to the minimum, however they don’t want to break any functionality.

So I set the default privacy policy to everyone and then I updated two user profiles. One of my user profiles has the actual privacy on the property set to Everyone the other  user profile has this set to Only Me.

Then I’ve create a search result web part returning my user profiles.

Finally I created a refinement panel where I’ve inwaitingcluded my custom property in the selected refiners. and then the wait starts again. It always takes a while for properties to come through.

Quite a while later …

Only properties visible to Everyone appear in my search web parts.

Properties that have been marked as Visible to me only are not appearing anymore. Even though I’m looking at details of my own profile.

So like in the on premises world the search account needs to have permissions to the user profile properties before I can use them in search web parts.

Different uses

I also had a look through the out of the box fields and I looked at the combination of Everyone/Only Me and The user can override or not.

User can overrideUser cannot override
Only MePersonal settings such as Define Your Work WeekConfiguration settings that nobody would be interested in such and users shouldn’t change this data as they might break something. e.g. Outlook Web Access URL
EveryoneThis seems to be the default for typical information that you should be happy to share such as SkillsInformation that is used by SharePoint or that needs to be available for other people to read. e.g. Department. Oten this information would be updated within AD and synchronised to SharePoint’s user profiles.


My Conclusions

  • Any user profile properties that need to be used by search web parts should have a privacy of Everyone.
  • Don’t change the privacy of out of the box properties. As you might break something.


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

3 thoughts on “Office 365 – SharePoint – User profile property settings”
  1. We’re changing the default setting for the Birthday (SPS-Birthday) property to “Only Me” with “User can override” enabled, and we’re finding that this change isn’t propagating down to individual user profiles, which still have the property set to “everyone” by default. Has anyone seen this problem before? Any ideas on how to force user profiles to respect the default? Thanks!

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