How do I change the sign-in name for an AD-synchronized user?

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Here's the situation:

We attempted to change an employees name from Jane Smith to Jane Jones. We made the changes on our local AD and synched them O365. O365 still showes the user name as "jsmith". The online (and offline) GAL still shows a last name of Smith and an alias of "jsmith".

What did we do wrong? How can we get Jane's new name change to appear on O365?

The solution:

The answer is that you didn't do anything wrong. If your users are not synchronized from Active Directory, you can change the sign-in name from the details page in Office 365. However, for AD-synced environments, the sign-in name (username) needs to be changed via PowerShell once an Office 365 license is assigned, and here's how you change the username:

  1. Start PowerShell
  2. Make sure the Microsoft Online module is loaded (if you're using the MS Online Helpdesk PowerShell profile, that module will be loaded for you automatically)
  3. Execute the following command:

set-msoluserprincipalname -newuserprincipalname jjones@emailaddress.com -userprincipalname jsmith@emailaddress.com.

This will change the sign-in name and should help resolve any sync issues. To change the GAL display name, make sure that the displayName property in Active Directory is updated (in addition to Last Name) and either force the directory sync or wait for changes to sync during the next sync window.

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