Excluding external users from search results in SharePoint Online

Search in SharePoint Online returns both internal and external users by default. This may  not be desirable. Here’s how to exclude external users from the search results.

External users have account names containing #ext# which makes them easy to filter out. Typically when you search for people you will query against the Local People Results result source. In SharePoint Online we can’t modify this result source like On Premises, but we can clone it and add our own custom filters:

  1. Open SharePoint Admin
  2. Go to search settings and select Manage Result Sources
  3. Copy Local People Results (click the down arrow to find the copy command)
  4. Edit your new result source and find Query Transform
  5. Add  -AccountName:"#ext#"  to the query
  6. Verify that it works using the Query Builder
  7. Save

Remember that you will need to configure search pages and other solutions to use this new result source instead of the default Local People Results!

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Try this if sound in Windows stops working

Several of my computers have had problems with sound suddenly not working. Typically this seems to happens when switching context, such as going from plugged in to battery, but sometimes it seems random. At work we use Skype for Business. When it encounters sound problems it tends to freeze up. I’ve found the following to work at restoring sound (and S4B) again:

  1. Right click on the sound icon in system tray. Select “Playback Devices”.
  2. Double click on “Speakers / Headphones”. Go to the “Advanced” tab in the dialog that opens:
  3. Click on “Restore Defaults” or the “Test” button:

Depending on the problem you have, one of these buttons tends to restore sound playback again!

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Enable Mometum on an Alps Glidepoint Touchpad

My old computer has a touchpad from Synaptics with a feature called “Momentum”. (I’ve also seen this called “Inertia” och “Inertial Scrolling”.) It causes the mouse pointer move a little bit before stopping after you’ve released your finger, as if friction is slowing it down. I find this makes using a touchpad more enjoyable, since it allows you to flick your finger when moving the mouse.

My new computer came with  an Alps Glidepoint Touchpad. I was disappointed when I could not find any momentum settings in the settings. So I started digging through the registry to see if I could find some hidden settings, and I did!

Simply find this key using RegEdit and set it to 1 :

You can easily test the new setting by toggling the touch pad on/off in the settings dialog:

Sadly I find that the Alps implementation of momentum applies too much “friction”, making the mouse stop too fast. I have not been able to find any settings controlling this. If you do, please post a comment!

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Stopping Software Center from restarting your computer

IT-departments may require you to restart your computer to complete updates they have pushed out. This is at best annoying, at worst it can ruin your work if you for example have a long running process in progress. (My personal favorite is when the company forced me to restart my computer in the middle of a service window when I was upgrading a system for said company…)

Note: You may want to skip to Update 2 at the bottom for the latest working method.

If your company uses System Center you may recognize the following dialog informing you that Your Computer is About to Restart:

You can’t close this window or ask it to stop the shut down. So what can you do? I’ve seen others talk about shutting down Windows Services. That never worked for me, but I discovered that there was an easy way to stop the process. Simply open a command prompt and type  shutdown /a

This will abort the shutdown:

The countdown window will still be open, but when reaching zero nothing will happen!

Now you can finish your work at your own pace, before restarting your computer.

Note: If it does not work and you get a message that there is no shutdown in progress, try again later. I’m guessing that the shutdown command is not issued until 15-30 minutes before it should go off. Let me know in the comments if it works.

Update: Since the update window is “always on top” and can’t be closed it blocks your view in a pretty annoying way. Luckily we can use a bit of PowerShell and WinAPI to to hack the window properties to hide it :-)


Update 2: Above does not work for me anymore. But I found that you can simply stop the service:

  1. Open Services (run -> services.msc)
  2. Find “SMS Agent Host”
  3. Open it and click “Stop”

Also run shutdown -a  to make sure your computer does not restart itself.

The shutdown notification should go away. It might return after a while, but you repeat the steps above over and over.


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Internet Explorer: ScriptImports is undefined

Today I spent way too much time on hunting down a bug that occurred in Internet Explorer 11 running our intranet solution on SharePoint Online / 2016. The problem showed itself by throwing the following error in the console:

SCRIPT5009: ‘ScriptImports’ is undefined
File: eval code (453), Line: 37, Column: 29

The referenced “file” pointed to some internal IE code dealing with Ajax calls. After this error had occurred, other (all?) Ajax calls broke until the page reloaded.

I finally tracked it down to happening when clicking a link with an inline JavaScript handler:

<a href="javascript:void(0)" onclick="javascript:myFunction();">Run myFunction</a>

Nothing special at fist sight, but notice href="javascript:void(0)"  that is supposed to simply stop the default browser action when clicking the link. I’ve seend this before and have assumed it is a proper way to do things. Turns out it’s not! Removing it solved the problem. Here are two alternatives that work:

<a href="#" onclick="javascript:myFunction();">Run myFunction</a>


<a href="javascript:return false;" onclick="javascript:myFunction();">Run myFunction</a>

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Beware this limitation when using SharePoint Image Renditions

With image renditions you can specify a pixel size when requesting an image, and SharePoint will deliver the image scaled down to this size for you. This is great, because you don’t have to worry about your users pulling full size pictures from their gigapixel cameras when publishing content. Or do you?

I was recently browsing a customer’s SharePoint Online intranet solution and noticed that some images in the news roll-up loaded slowly. Turned out they had been using high resolution stock photos for a few of their news articles. Even though the news roll-up requested a specific image rendition, SharePoint delivered the original, full size image file. The penalty of this is both downloading large files (10MB in this case) and having the browser scale down the image (which is slow and looks bad). I’m sure you can imagine the performance impact this could have on pages such as an intranet start page where you have lots of images.

I investigated this further by scaling an image to various sizes to see what happened. Turns out, at around 6400 pixels width or height, SharePoint suddenly stops delivering a scaled down image rendition and instead just sends the original file. This is true for both SharePoint Online and SharePoint 2016. My recommendation is that even if you use image rendition, user education is still necessary to avoid problems.

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How to backup and restore tables in Azure storage

There is currently no built in solution for backing up tables in Azure Storage, but we can easily do it with the help of a tool called AzCopy which is provided by Microsoft. Below is a PowerShell script I built to simplify the process of backing up and restoring. It’s a two-step rocket: First it enumerates all your tables and saves a CSV-file with their names. Then it uses this file to perform the actual backup (and restore if needed). This way you can easily edit the CSV-file to “configure” what to backup.

This script is also available at my GitHub repo.


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Extending the JavaScript console with history recording

The browser JavaScript console is a web developers best friend. Using console.log()  is essential for debugging your web apps. But there are a few annoyances. Two things that bother me for a while are:

  1. Reloading the page clears the console. Yes, there are settings for keeping the log, but personally I prefer to keep this turned off.
  2. Internet Explorer and Edge will only print to the console once the dev tools window has been opened. The console is always empty when opened, so anything you logged before this is lost.

Fortunately JavaScript is a very flexible language. Let’s make the console better!

Design goals:

  • Record all calls to the console’s log() , error() , warn()  and info()  functions.
  • Recall the console history by calling our own console.history()  function.
    • console.history()  shows the console history since the current page load.
    • console.history(true)  shows everything from the current session.

Here is my solution (also available at my GitHub tutorial repo). I have tried to annotate it to explain what is going on.


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Solution to Azure AD App not able to use given permissions

A client I’m working with had trouble adding permissions to their Azure Active Directory Application (AAD App). We added application permissions to allow the app to read all users’ full profiles, read directory data and read O365 unified groups, but no matter what we did our code would get an “insufficient privileges” answer back from the Microsoft Graph. We even added a brand new app, but it too had the same problems, indicating that the problem lied deeper than the app permissions.

Reaching out to Microsoft support they clearly had a hard time figuring out what was wrong, but finally their engineers presented the following solution that worked:

  1. Open PowerShell
  2. Connect-MsolService (sign in with a Global Admin account)
  3. Remove-MsolServicePrincipal -ObjectId [GUID] -TenantId [GUID]
  4. Start an InPrivate browsing window
  5. Open: https://login.microsoftonline.com/common/oauth2/authorize?response_type=code&client_id=[GUID]&prompt=admin_consent

This is supposed to remove the Service Principal and following the admin consent workflow a new Service Principal should be created and inherit the permissions given to the application object.

I hope this is helpful to someone in the same situation.

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I stopped using Google Analytics. Here’s why.

For many years I’ve been using Google Analytics (GA) on rlvision.com, but more and more I started questioning myself why. So a month ago I finally cut the cord. Here are my reasons.

  1. The first reason is simply that I don’t really have any need for advanced analytics. Sure, it’s always fun to see how many visitors your site has had and what the most popular pages are, but for me that’s where it ends. Google Analytics is way to complex for me and my needs, and I never felt that I really understood how to use it properly. Usage statistics sounds very enticing to website owners and stakeholders. And GA always pops up as the first suggestion. But I’m going to be so bold as to suggest that most GA users actually do not need such an advanced tracking system. They would be just as happy with a more simple system. Heck, they might even be more happy, since a simpler system that they actually understand and can fully use would be of more value to them!
  2. The second reason is that I don’t like being tracked by Google (or other “data companies”). I even block the GA JavaScript in my browser. I don’t necessarily think it will do my any harm to be track. But the more I think about how much information Google has about everyone, the more scared I get. That being said I do not mind individual websites to track me. The problem with Google Analytics is that they track an enormous amount of sites, and by combining this data (and data from their other services) they get an eerily complete picture of you. If you choose Google Analytics because it’s free, think again about what you are giving them. It’s not healthy to let corporations have access that kind of data! Considering my stance on this, it’s simply not right to subject my website visitors to something I myself despise.
  3. Third. If I am to track my website users, I want to own the collected data myself. Only then can I offer a real privacy policy. Only then can I dispose of the data if I need to. Only then can I (at least in theory) move my data between services. With Google Analytics, who owns your data? I’m not sure. But I do know that you cannot export you data from GA. You can manually download individual reports, but not all you data.

There are lots of alternatives to Google Analytics out there. Some are cloud service, some are self hosting software. Some are free and even open source, some are paid. For some sites GA is no doubt a very powerful and suitable service. But not for everyone.

Note: At the same time I removed Google Analytics I also stopped using AddThis which I had been using for some years. Turns out AddThis is nowadays owned by Oracle Corporation, another major player in the data field…

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