How to force Azure Active Directory to sync with Office 365

Maintaining the existing local platform structure when switching to the Office 365 environment is often necessary. But if the procedure doesn’t run automatically, you will have to perform it by hand. Sometimes that’s because the migration takes too long to complete, or your company wants to use both environments in a hybrid arrangement. Whatever the cause, synchronizing Active Directory with Office 365 is essential if you want to improve accessibility.

To sync the Active Directory with Office 365, you first need to go into the Office 365 admin section and locate the active user’s directory sync portal:

  • Firstly, open Office 365
  • Now click on the launcher illustrated. 
  • From there, click on the option for “Admin.” 
  • now select the drop-down option for “Users.” 
  • Click on “Active users.” 
  • You must click “Go to the Download center to get the ‎Azure AD‎ Connect tool.” 
  • Under where it says, “Microsoft Azure Active Directory Connect,” click on “Download.” 
  • Open the newly installed file. 
  • Add in your Azure Active Directory credentials. 
  • Click on “Finish” to complete the process. 

You must be an admin to install the Active Directory portal onto your local desktop. Then, you can proceed to connect your Office 365 with Azure.

What is Azure Active Directory?

Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) is a cloud service that allows your users to access external resources securely. External resources could be Microsoft 365 products or countless other Software as a Service (SaaS) applications. Azure AD provides Identity as a Service (IDaaS) by confirming the identities of your users for cloud and on-premises applications.

Azure AD is as an upgrade of Active Directory (AD), which allows admins to manage access permissions to network resources. To read more about the difference between Azure AD and AD, please read Microsoft’s Learn documentation.

Why may you need to force the Active Directory to sync with Office 365?

There may be some security-related reasons why Microsoft will not allow you to form an active sync between your Active Directory and Office 365. One reason you may want to force sync as your Active Directory with Office 365 is that the sync that happens automatically is not working. You can divert through a local path using the steps shown here and then create a sync between Office 365 and the active directory.

According to the default setting, there might be more than one forest in the setup. A user object might be represented in various topologies as a contact in a different forest. Additionally, the user may have a connected mailbox in a separate resource forest.

An in-depth guide on how to force active directory to sync with Office 365

If you require further assistance with the steps provided, you can use our in-depth guide to help. The guide here includes a series of screenshots that you can use to help navigate the user interface. I have also included additional details for more complex steps within the process.

Sign in with your regular Office 365 credentials; however, you must have admin permissions enabled on those credentials for you to complete the process. 

  • Now click on the launcher. 

Nine dots illustrate the launcher on the top left-hand side of the Office 365 dashboard. You need to click on this to access all the applications on the Office 365 dashboard. 

  • From there, click on the option for “Admin.

From the list of available applications, you will need to select the one called “Admin.”

  • Click on Azure Active Directory” on the left menu under “Admin centers.”
  • Then go to “Azure Active Directory” -> “Azure AD Connect” -> “Download Azure AD Connect.”
  • Next, click on the red “Download” button.
info Note: You will need to be running a Windows Server operating system (2016 or 2019).
  • Open the newly installed file.  
  • Add in your Azure Active Directory credentials.  
  • Click on Finish” to complete the process.

Once you have completed these steps, you will have managed to sync Office 365 with Azure Active Directory. The installation path will work on all Windows operating systems beyond Windows 7. I tried to complete the process on a Mac OS and found that the process did not work. 

An active sync will form between Office 365 and your Azure directory. Included as part of the sync will be your account information, app credentials, and general user information.

Use PowerShell to force a sync between Active Directory and Office 365

PowerShell should come preinstalled on most Windows operating systems. However, if you don’t have PowerShell installed, you can download it free from the Microsoft Store. For more ways to install PowerShell, please view Microsoft’s Learn documentation.

Install Azure AD Connect

First, you need an Azure AD tenant. Fortunately, you can get one with an Azure free trial. You will also need to be running a Windows Server operating system (2016 or 2019).

  • Alternatively, go to your Azure AD portal and click on “Azure Active Directory.”
  • Then scroll down to select “Azure AD Connect” and click on “Download Azure AD Connect.”
  • Open and install Azure AD Connect and enter your credentials.

Use PowerShell to force Azure Active Directory to sync with Office 365

  • Type “PowerShell” into your Windows search bar.
  • Then select “Run as Administrator.”
  • Copy and paste the following command into PowerShell and press Enter on the keyboard.
Import-Module –Name "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Azure AD Sync\Bin\ADSync" -VerboseGet-Module
  • Check that the module has been correctly installed by using the following command:
  • To view the current sync schedule, use the following command:
  • Use the following command to force a synchronization:
Start-ADSyncSyncCycle -PolicyType Full
  • The following command will stop synchronization:


Thank you for reading our content on how you can force connect Active Directory and Office 365. If you cannot form an automatic connection between the accounts, you can use the steps here to help. You can locally install the Azure Active Directory Connect program and then manually set up the connection on your local desktop. 

I also provided some reasons why you may want to use the steps above to encourage a sync between Active Directory and Office 365. I have provided the steps to achieve this and an in-depth guide if you are struggling with those steps. If you encounter any issues following the steps, drop a comment, and we will address them. 

Saajid Gangat

Saajid Gangat has been a researcher and content writer at Business Tech Planet since 2021. Saajid is a tech-savvy writer with expertise in web and graphic design and has extensive knowledge of Microsoft 365, Adobe, Shopify, WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, and more! You can connect with Saajid on Linkedin.

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