Exchange Online, Exchange Server, Exchange Server 2013, HAB, OAB, Office 365, Offline Address Book, Outlook 2013

Create Hierarchical Address Books in Office 365

The hierarchical address book (HAB)

The hierarchical address book (HAB) is a feature in Microsoft Exchange Server 2013, Exchange Online (Office 365) and Microsoft Outlook that enables end users to browse for recipients in their Exchange organization using an organizational hierarchy. In most Exchange deployments, users are limited to the default global address list (GAL) and its associated recipient properties. Additionally, the structure of the GAL often doesn’t accurately reflect the management or seniority relationships among recipients in your organization. Being able to customize an HAB that maps to your organization’s unique business structure provides your users with an efficient method for locating internal recipients.

The nice place to start with HAB is the kb article here

HAB in Office 365

In a recent blog article, MS has informed that Hierarchical Address Books have arrived at Office 365 too. After reading the announcement, I have decided to play something around on the new stuff in Office 365 !!!

How HAB Looks Like

So, my aim is to build something like shown below:


The top-level tier represents the root organization Contoso, Ltd.

  • The second-level child tiers represent the business divisions within Contoso, Ltd: Corporate Office, Product Support Organization, and Sales & Marketing Organization.
  • The third-level child tiers represent departments within the Corporate Office division: Human Resources, Accounting Group, and Administration Group.

How to start with establishing a HAB

It has found as a tenant administrator for Office 365 is able to configure a HAB using the same commands one would in an on premises deployment through PowerShell only. So my reference to play around is Enable or Disable Hierarchical Address Books in Exchange 2013

The general steps are found as follows:

  1. Create a distribution group that will be used for the root organization (top-level tier).
  2. Create distribution groups for the child tiers and designate them as members of the HAB. Modify the SeniorityIndex parameter of these groups so they’re listed in the proper hierarchical order within the root organization.
  3. Add organization members. Modify the SeniorityIndex parameter of the members so they’re listed in the proper hierarchical order within the child tiers.
  4. For accessibility purposes, you can use the PhoneticDisplayName parameter, which specifies a phonetic pronunciation of the DisplayName parameter.

The following table shows all the required cmdlets to configure a HAB.

Cmdlet Parameter
Set-OrganizationConfig HierarchicalAddressBookRoot
Set-Group IsHierarchicalGroupSeniorityIndexPhoneticDisplayName
Set-User SeniorityIndexPhoneticDisplayName
Set-Contact SeniorityIndexPhoneticDisplayName

Steps to Enable HAB in your Office 365 organization using Remote PowerShell

1. Create the Global Distribution Group, in which all the Hierarchical Address Books and users are member of

New-DistributionGroup -Name “ExchangeOnline” -DisplayName “ExchangeOnline Global” -Alias “ExchangeOnlineGlobal” -Type “Distribution”

The PowerShell Output shows as follows:


2. Make the ‘ExchangeOnline’ Global Distribution Group as the root Distribution Group for the HAB

Set-OrganizationConfig -HierarchicalAddressBookRoot exchangeonline

See the corresponding PowerShell Output as below:


3. Create a new distribution group ‘’ and add it as a member of the Global group

New-DistributionGroup -Name “” -DisplayName “” -Alias “ExchangeOnlineIndia” -Type “Distribution”

Add-DistributionGroupMember -Identity “ExchangeOnline” -Member “”

Corresponding PowerShell Output:


4. Create distribution groups for the other tiers in the HAB. For this example, we would create the following groups: Messaging, Infrastructure, Office 365. This example creates the distribution group Messaging. Likewise create other groups too

New-DistributionGroup -Name “Messaging” -DisplayName “Messaging” -Alias “Messaging” -Type “Distribution”


5. Designate each of the groups as members of the HAB. For this example, we would designate the following groups as being hierarchical groups: ExchangeOnline,, Messaging, Infrastructure, Office 365, Consultants, Architects, Administrators. This example designates the distribution group ExchangeOnline as a member of the HAB.

Remember to convert every groups you wish to be there as a Hierarchical Group listed in your Address Book

Set-Group -Identity “ExchangeOnline” -IsHierarchicalGroup $true

Set-Group -Identity “” -IsHierarchicalGroup $true

Set-Group -Identity “Messaging” -IsHierarchicalGroup $true

Set-Group -Identity “Administrators” -IsHierarchicalGroup $true


See how the PowerShell Output looks like:


6. Add each of the subordinate groups as members of the root organization. For this example, distribution groups Messaging, Infrastructure, Office 365 are added as members of the root organization in the HAB. This example adds the Messaging distribution group as a member of the root distribution group

Add-DistributionGroupMember -Identity “” -Member “Messaging”

See how it is operated in PowerShell


7. Add each of the groups that are subordinate to the distribution group ‘Messaging’ as members of the group. For this example, distribution groups Architects, Consultants, and Administrators are added as members of the distribution group ‘Messaging’. This example adds the Architects distribution group as a member of the Messaging distribution group.
Add-DistributionGroupMember -Identity “Messaging” -Member “Architects”
8. Set the SeniorityIndex parameter for groups in the HAB. For example, the Messaging group contains three child groups: Architects, Consultants, Administrators. Instead of having the groups listed in ascending alphabetical order, which is the default, the preferred sorting will be Administrators (SeniorityIndex = 100), Consultants (SeniorityIndex = 50), and then Architects (SeniorityIndex = 25). This example sets the SeniorityIndex parameter for the Administrators group to 100.
Set-Group -Identity “Administrators” -SeniorityIndex 100
The PowerShell Output Looks like as seen below:
9. Set the SeniorityIndex parameter for users in the HAB groups. For this example, the Administrators group contains three users already: UserX, UserY, and UserZ. Instead of having the users listed in ascending alphabetical order by default, the preferred sorting will be UserZ (SeniorityIndex = 100), UserX(SeniorityIndex = 50), and then UserY(SeniorityIndex = 25). This example sets the SeniorityIndex parameter for the users UserZ,UserY,UserX to 100.

Set-User -Identity “UserZ” -SeniorityIndex 100

Set-User -Identity “UserX” -SeniorityIndex 50

Set-User -Identity “UserY” -SeniorityIndex 25

See the PowerShell Output too:


How the HAB we made looks like?

So, it’s almost done, except the one which is how the HAB looks like in address book. Microsoft has clarified that it can be viewed through Outlook 2010/2013 only as of now (That means no OWA supported for the time being)

Are you ready to see the new addition in Outlook 2013? A new tab is added to the Address book !!!

The HAB is displayed on the Organization tab, similar to the following figure.


You can also review the hierarchy of display of Groups and Users as we set using SeniorityIndex in a previous step.

Hope, this will help you when you are in need of creating a Hierarchical Address book in your Exchange 2013 or Office 365 environments.