It can be hard to become fluent in PowerShell, especially when working with a service where multiple modules (all with their own kinks) are used. However, PowerShell is very approachable and it’s surprising what you can do with just a couple of lines of code. Working examples are great learning tools to help PowerShell newcomers (and maybe experienced coders) come up with solutions to problems. A couple of years ago, we created the Office 365 for IT Pros GitHub repository. Since then, we’ve been populating the repository with PowerShell scripts created to illustrate new features or to demonstrate how to approach solving an administrative problem in an Office 365 tenant. The repository currently holds a collection of 81 scripts.
Apart from referencing scripts in the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook or writing articles to explain what a script does, we haven’t created any documentation. That gap is now closed with the publication of our GitHub script listing page, which lists the scripts alphabetically and gives a short explanation what each script does. We also link to a relevant article if one is available. We will update this page as new scripts are added to our collection.
Not Production Scripts
The scripts are not intended for production work. Instead, the code is intended to demonstrate how Office 365 features work and is part of our learning journey to understand and master functionality before we write about it. Writing scripts to interact with a component usually reveals something new and interesting. At least, that’s been our experience. The collection contains scripts for working with Azure AD, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Teams, Planner, and OneDrive for Business. We use a mixture of pure PowerShell and PowerShell combined with Microsoft Graph and other APIs.
Every tenant has a different approach to using PowerShell and any script needs to fit into the tenant framework before it can be used to do real work. The code we write works, but it might need some additional error handling or logging, or you might want to take some code and incorporate it into your scripts.
Those working in large tenants where the need exists to process tens of thousands of objects should consider taking the code explored in the scripts and using them with techniques such as those outlined in this post. Many of our scripts interrogate the audit log to extract information about actions such as user sign-ins or document edit. In large tenants where many thousands of audit records are generated daily, you may have to limit the timeframe for searches or use paging to download more than 5,000 records at a time. You’ll find this stuff out when you test a script before deciding if it’s useful.
Some Example Scripts
Among the scripts in the repository are:
- FindPotentialDirectoryProblems.PS1: This script scans Azure Active Directory to look for accounts which don’t have common attributes (like phone numbers or departments) populated. The idea is that the People Card and other Microsoft 365 features depend heavily on accurate Azure AD data, so it’s a good idea to make sure that the basics are done for all accounts. See this post for more information.
- GetBingImagesTeamsBackgrounds.PS1: Bing publishes nice images daily to use as the background for its home page. The same images often make good custom backgrounds for Teams meetings. This script downloads and installs the Bing daily images in the folder used for Teams custom backgrounds and removes old images after 30 days. See for more information.
- PurgeMessagesWithContentSearch.PS1: Microsoft is busy getting rid of the Search-Inbox cmdlet, and the replacement is to use a content search to find items you want to purge and a content search action to purge the found items. This script shows how to do the job. This post covers the basics.
- ReportTeamsCreationbyEmail.ps1: A script to look back over the last 90 days and find audit records for the creation of new teams. An email message is created with details of the new team and is sent to a nominated recipient. See this article for more details.
- TeamsGroupsActivityReport.ps1: This script was created soon after the launch of Office 365 Groups and published in the TechNet Gallery. Its documentation is available here. The script was moved to GitHub after the retirement of the TechNet Gallery and is now at version 4.8. This version uses PowerShell exclusively and is therefore limited by the speed constraints of some cmdlets like Get-UnifiedGroup. It works, but the Graph-based version is much faster.
- TeamsGroupsActivityReportV5.PS1: The Graph-based (and much faster) edition of the Teams and Microsoft 365 Groups Activity Report script. To gain speed and be able to process tens of thousands of groups in a reasonable time, the original script was rewritten to use Graph API calls whenever possible. As such, it’s a good working example of how to swap out heavy PowerShell cmdlets for more performant Graph calls in a script.
One of the delights of PowerShell is that it’s easy for people to write scripts (well, it is with a little practice). GitHub enables people to suggest ideas and propose changes to code, and we welcome any suggestions we receive to improve the scripts in the repository. We definitely appreciate any fixes for bugs found in our code. No one is perfect!