Posted on November 27, 2014 · Posted in Exchange

Hierarchical Address Book in Exchange 2013

The feature of the Hierarchical Address Book (HAB) was first introduced in Exchange 2010 SP1 and is supported in the Outlook versions 2010 and 2013. As you can see from the name, the HAB feature allows to display mail recipients in the Outlook address book hierarchically, based on the organizational structure of the company.

It is supposed that the hierarchical address book should eliminate the drawback of the standard flat representation of the Exchange global address book (GAL) that doesn’t reflect the real subordinate and hierarchical structure of divisions and mail recipients in the address book.

Hierarchical Address Book in Outlook 2010

Here is how a hierarchical address book in Outlook 2010 can look like. You must admit that it is more convenient than the flat list of the usual Outlook address book.

The Hierarchical Address Book feature is enabled on the side of the server and is not enabled by default. In this article we’ll show how to enable and configure a Hierarchical Address Book in Exchange 2013.

You can check the current HAB status with the command:

Get-OrganizationConfig | fl hier*

Get HAB 2013 status

In this example, since the value of HierarchicalAddressBookRoot is blank, it means that the hierarchical address book is disabled.

Note. HAB can be enabled from Powershell only. You won’t be able to do it in the EAC (Exchange Administration Center).

To make it more convenient, create a new organizational unit (OU) in Active Directory to store our hierarchical groups for the address book. You can also use an existing OU. Create an OU with the name HAB. You can do it either in the ADUC console or in Powershell:

dsadd ou ‘OU=HAB,DC=ande,DC=local’

In the new unit, create a root distribution group to become a root of our hierarchy in the address book.

new-DistributionGroup -name ‘Ande’ -DisplayName ‘Ande’ -alias ‘Ande’ -OrganizationalUnit ‘andan.local/HAB’ -SAMAccountName ‘Ande’ -type ‘Distribution’

Specify that this group should be a root one in our hierarchy

Set-OrganizationConfig –HierarchicalAddressBookRoot 'Ande'

Set-OrganizationConfig HAB root

In the same way create some other distribution groups (according to the organizational structure of the company) in the same OU, e. g., “Finance”, “IT”, “Consulting”, “Support”,”Sales”, “Marketing”, etc. (these groups are nested to the root).

Then you have to set IsHierarchicalGroup for all created groups that you want to see in the HAB. You can do it separately:

Set-Group Sales -IsHierarchicalGroup $true

Set-Group IsHierarchicalGroup

Or for all groups in the specified OU at once:

Get-Group –OrganizationalUnit andan.local/HAB | Set-Group –IsHierarchicalGroup $True

You can disable this attribute in the same way for a separate group:

Set-Group Sales -IsHierarchicalGroup $False

or for all OU groups:

Get-Group –OrganizationalUnit andan.local/HAB | Set-Group –IsHierarchicalGroup $False

Note. If HAB support is enabled for a group, it means on AD-level that  True value is assigned to  msOrg-IsOrganizational attribute.


The next step is to create a hierarchy inside the groups. It is done by placing some groups into the other ones. You can do it as follows:

add-DistributionGroupMember -identity 'Ande' –member ‘IT’
add-DistributionGroupMember -identity 'IT' –member ‘Support’

etc. for all groups according to the hierarchy. The same is done to the users by including them into different groups.

So, everything is ready, now you only have to run Outlook, open the Address Book and go to the Organization tab. If you have done it correctly, you will see the hierarchical organizational structure you have created.

HAB in Exchange 2013

Note. You can use HAB only when accessing it with Outlook 2010/2013 clients. OWA doesn’t support the hierarchical address book view. It also has to be mentioned that Hierarchical Address Book is supported in Office365.

By default, users and groups in HAB are arranged in the alphabetical order. To change the sort order (for example, you have to place the BigBoss contacts on top of the list), you have to increase the priority of the group/user with SeniorityIndex:

Set-User –Identity “Boss” –SeniorityIndex 100

The user/group with the higher index will take the higher position in the address book. The valid values for SeniorityIndex lie in the range from 1 to 100, where 100 is the highest priority in the HAB list.

Configuration of HAB in Exchange, especially, in a large company, is quite time-consuming, but if done correctly, it allows to create a convenient address book that reflects the actual hierarchy of the company and is convenient to use when searching the necessary recipient.

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