If you try to modify the recipient filter of the default Global Address List in Exchange Server 2010 you will receive an error message:

You can’t peform this operation on default global address list “Default Global Address List”.

The recipient filter of the default Global Address List can be modified once during conversion from Exchange 2003 but not after that.  If you want to change the default Global Address List recipient filter after that you must either:

  • Create a new Global Address List with the desired recipient filter
  • Temporarily modify the Global Address List so that it isn’t the default

For the second option you can refer back to my earlier post on fixing  the issue where there is no default Global Address List in the organization.  This is determined by the msExchRecipientFilterFlags attribute of the object.

Simply use ADSIEdit.msc to modify the attribute from 3 to 0, apply the change to the Global Address List recipient filter, then return to ADSIEdit.msc and set the flag back to 3.  For more detailed instructions check out my previous post.

About the Author

Paul Cunningham

Paul is a former Microsoft MVP for Office Apps and Services. He works as a consultant, writer, and trainer specializing in Office 365 and Exchange Server. Paul no longer writes for Practical365.com.


  1. Harsh Kakkar

    Hi Paul,

    I’ve been a long time follower of your posts and found them really helpful.

    I’ve been tasked to cleanup the GAL for our O365 tenant wherein I’ve been asked to create a custom address list and move all the mail-users and contact that are for a particular domain / external address. So for example users with external address of @gmail.com should show up under a new custom address list under our default GAL.

    Kindly help and suggest how can this be achieved.


    Harsh K.

  2. John

    Hi Paul

    Thanks for all the great info.

    Hope you can shed some light or point me in the right direction.
    I have a client who had a very messy migration from 2000 to 2007 I have had to fix a lot for Office 365 migration. I have installed 2013 for Hybrid. I first found mail contacts were not apart of the GAL so no users migrated to office 365 would show in the Default GAL. I went about to fix this and found they didn’t have a Default GAL at all. So I created a GAL and set it as default using your ADSI edit instructions and from Power Shell I can see my GAL shows as you would expect.
    However none of the outlook clients are picking up my GAL and I don’t know where they are getting the users and DL’s from to populate the outlook GAL.
    Any suggestions?

    Thank you

    1. Avatar photo
      Paul Cunningham

      Cached-mode Outlook users use the Offline Address Book. So you should make sure that your new GAL is included in the OAB, and that the OAB is healthy and clients are receiving the updates (takes 24-48 hours normally).

      If you’re ever unsure about whether a change to the GAL is working, just use OWA to test. That always queries the live GAL instead of the OAB.

  3. Naveen

    How to Edit Global Address list’s updating time interval in Exchange 2013.

  4. Prasad Rao

    Hello Paul,

    My company sells and implements O365 for SMB clients in Canada. We have come to problem for which I can’t seem to find a solution.

    One of my clients has a GAL. We were able to update the data on the GAL using a PowerShell command to import the csv file. However, we noticed two things:
    1. The Phone number entered into the “Office Phone” field. Unfortunately, on Android devices or even in the display within the GAL, the data within “Office Phone” doesn’t appear. We had to manually move the data into the “Work Phone” field. Now it appeared on the Android devices.

    2. However, the Address doesn’t appear. It neither appears on the mobile device or in the browser when viewing the GAL listings.

    Is there a way that we can configure the GAL to allow for the appearance of the Address information in their appropriate fields?

    Looking forward to hearing back from you.


  5. Shawn

    Hello, am looking for some assistance with the following:

    1. What would happen if I removed the current Global Address List in our Exchange onPremises?
    2. Can a new GAL be created to replace this one?

    I believe this is what is required in Exchange 2010 if migrated from Exchange 2003?

    Thank you in advance!



    1. Avatar photo
      Paul Cunningham

      You can create as many GALs as you need and assign them to users/databases as needed.

      Not sure about removing the current “default” GAL but I assume it either won’t allow you to remove it or it will change another one to the “default”. I would suggest just ensuring that another GAL has been created and marked as “default” first.

  6. Lang


    We are unable to edit Address List that migrated from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2007 with error “Unable to edit the specified address list. Address lists created with legacy versions of Exchange must be upgraded using the ‘ForceUpgrade’ parameter of the ‘Set-AddressList’ cmdlet”.

    We have 20 custom Address Lists. All Address Lists migrated from Exchange 2003 has the “OrganisationLevel2Code” parameter.
    LdapRecipientFilter is (&(&(&(mailnickname=*)(|(company=*mycompany)(department=*BS)(OrganisationLevel2Code=BUnit)(extensionAttribute3=ALL)(extensionAttribute3=*Business*)))))

    If i upgrade using the ‘ForceUpgrade’ parameter of the ‘Set-AddressList” cmdlet, after the upgrade, will the “custom” parameter “OrganisationLevel2Code” be retained?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Avatar photo
      Paul Cunningham

      I don’t know. You really need to test that in a lab if it is going to be a big concern.

  7. ssLang

    Hi Paul, thank you for the prompt reply. highly appreciated.

  8. Lang

    Hi Paul,

    I have a question hope you can shed me some lights.

    I’m trying to create a new Address List in Exchange 2007 SP3. (Our Exchange env were upgraded from 2003 to 2007 few years ago).

    The new Address List need to be filtered by an attribute “OrganisationalLevel1Code” (this is not a default attribute in New-AddressList nor a CustomAttribute).

    If i refer to Address List migrated from Exchange 2003: the LdapRecipientFilter is (&(&(&(mailnickname=*)(|(company=*mycompany)(department=*BS)(OrganisationLevel2Code=BUnit)(extensionAttribute3=ALL)(extensionAttribute3=*Business*)))))

    However, in Exchange 2007 i’m unable to create New-AddressList using “ldaprecipientfilter”. When i use -RecipientFilter the “OrganisationLevel2Code” parameter does not exist.

    Highly appreciated if could shed some lights on how can i create a new address list filter by “OrganisationalLevel2Code”?
    Thank you in advance.


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