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How to Install and Import PowerShell Active Directory Module?

We’ll demonstrate how to set up and use the Windows PowerShell Active Directory Module today. You may use AD cmdlets to acquire information about domain users, machines, groups, and other objects, as well as conduct AD management operations. This PowerShell module is installed as a separate feature on the server OS. The module is part of the Remote Server Administration Tools on desktop OS versions (Windows 10, 8.1, and 7). (RSAT). To administer Windows Server infrastructure, RSAT contains all necessary management tools, command-line utilities, and Windows PowerShell modules. The RSAT package for your Windows version must be downloaded from the Microsoft website (how to install RSAT on Windows 10?).

PowerShell gives administrators a lot of flexibility when it comes to working with Active Directory objects and automating tasks (this is especially useful when performing bulk actions aimed at a large number of AD objects).

In Windows PowerShell, there are three basic ways to communicate with Active Directory.

Interfaces for Active Directory Services (ADSI). This solution is the most complicated, but it works in any PowerShell installation and does not require the installation of any additional modules. It’s also “closest” to the VBScript scripting language’s controlling method of using the Active Directory Provider provided in PowerShell extensions. This method allows you to mount an Active Directory as a drive on your PC and travel across it with commands like dir, cd, and others.
Using the RSAT-AD-PowerShell module to manage Active Directory. This is the most convenient method of manipulating AD objects, but it necessitates the installation of a separate module.

To manage objects in Azure Active Directory, a different PowerShell module is used — Azure Active Directory Module for Windows PowerShell.

On Windows Server, install the PowerShell Active Directory Module.


Windows PowerShell’s Active Directory module debuted with Windows Server 2008 R2. It appears on the Windows Server after installing the ADDS role (Active Directory Domain Services) and then promoting a server to domain controller. In order to use the Active Directory module’s cmdlets, your domain must have at least one domain controller running Windows Server 2008 R2 or above. You must download and install the Active Directory Management Gateway Service if your network’s lone DC is running Windows Server 2003 or 2008. The Active Directory module’s cmdlets interface with the ADDS or ADMGS role’s web service, which is part of the domain controller.

  • You can install the Active Directory module for PowerShell on the domain controller, on any Windows server or workstation;
  • In Windows Server 2019/2016/2012 R2, you can install the Active Directory module for Windows PowerShell. You can do it by using the Add Roles and Features Wizard from the Server Manager. It is enough to start the wizard and at the step when selecting features, you need to select the item Remote Server Administration Tools > Role Administration Tools > AD DS and AD LDS Tools > Active Directory module for Windows PowerShell

You can also install this module using PowerShell. Open the PowerShell console as an administrator and run the following commands:

Import-Module ServerManager

Add-WindowsFeature -Name "RSAT-AD-PowerShell" –IncludeAllSubFeature

To check the installation status of a module, use the command:

Get-WindowsFeature RSAT-AD-PowerShell

Hint. If you are using the PowerShell Core 7.0 or higher, keep in mind that the Active Directory module is fully natively compatible with this version of PoSh. But first, you need to install the WindowsCompatibility module:

Install-Module -Name WindowsCompatibility

Installing the AD PowerShell Module on Windows 10

In Windows 10, Windows 8.1, and Windows 7, to install the RSAT-AD-PowerShell module, at first you must install the appropriate version of RSAT. You can install RSAT only in the Professional, Education, and Enterprise Windows editions. The installation of RSAT on Windows Home or Single Language is not available.

  • You can install the RSAT module on Windows 7, 8.1, and Windows 10 (up to build 1803) using a special MSU package which can be downloaded from the Microsoft website;
  • Then you need to enable the module (Control Panel > Programs > Turn Windows Features On or Off > Remote Server Administration Tools > Role Administration Tools > AD DS and AD LDS Tools > Active Directory module for Windows PowerShell).
  • Or using PowerShell:Enable-WindowsOptionalFeature -Online -FeatureName RSATClient-Roles-AD-Powershell
  • On Windows 10 1809 and newer builds the RSAT became a part of Features on Demand (FoD). You can install AD RSAT Tools from the Settings menu (Settings > Apps > Manage Optional Features > Add features > RSAT: Active Directory Domain Services and Lightweight Directory Tools > Install).
  • Or from the PowerShell console:Add-WindowsCapability –online –Name “Rsat.ActiveDirectory.DS-LDS.Tools~~~~0.0.1.0”

Importing PowerShell Active Directory Module on Windows

In Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 with PowerShell 2.0 installed, to start using the Active Directory module, you need to import it into the PowerShell session with the command:

import-module activedirectory

Also, you can export the module from a remote computer/server and import it into your PowerShell session (using the PSRemoting):

$S =New-PSSession -ComputerName MyDomainController 
Export-PSsession -Session $S -Module ActiveDirectory -OutputModule RemoteAD
Remove-PSSession -Session $S 
Import-Module RemoteAD

Now you can use the Active Directory module remotely without installing it on your computer.

If the AD module is installed on Windows Server 2016/2016/2012 R2 and Windows 8.1/Windows 10, it will be immediately imported into the PowerShell session.
Run the following command to verify that the AD PoSh module is installed and imported into the PowerShell session on Windows:

Get-Module ActiveDirectory

Hint. You can list all imported modules in a PowerShell session with the command:

Get-Module –ListAvailable

When a computer joins an AD domain, a secondary disc with the name AD: is created by default. You can traverse this disc by using the CD command and the typical methods for working with the file system. The paths are formatted in X500. You can use the AD Provider to navigate the AD as if it were a symbolic drive.

PS C:\> cd AD:

PS AD:\>

PS AD:\> dir

PS AD:\> cd “DC=contoso,DC=com”

PS AD:\> dir

You can display the list of available cmdlets for working with Active Directory as follows:

Get-Command -Module ActiveDirectory

The amount of cmdlets accessible in different versions of Windows (RSAT) varies:

Windows Server 2008 R2 — 76 cmdlets;
Windows Server 2012 — 135 cmdlets;
Windows Server 2012 R2/2016 — 147 cmdlets.
The following is a complete list of AD PowerShell Module cmdlets in Windows Server 2016:

Add-ADCentralAccessPolicyMember

Add-ADComputerServiceAccount

Add-ADDomainControllerPasswordReplicationPolicy

Add-ADFineGrainedPasswordPolicySubject

Add-ADGroupMember

Add-ADPrincipalGroupMembership

Add-ADResourcePropertyListMember

Clear-ADAccountExpiration

Clear-ADClaimTransformLink

Disable-ADAccount

Disable-ADOptionalFeature

Enable-ADAccount

Enable-ADOptionalFeature

Get-ADAccountAuthorizationGroup

Get-ADAccountResultantPasswordReplicationPolicy

Get-ADAuthenticationPolicy

Get-ADAuthenticationPolicySilo

Get-ADCentralAccessPolicy

Get-ADCentralAccessRule

Get-ADClaimTransformPolicy

Get-ADClaimType

Get-ADComputer

Get-ADComputerServiceAccount

Get-ADDCCloningExcludedApplicationList

Get-ADDefaultDomainPasswordPolicy

Get-ADDomain

Get-ADDomainController

Get-ADDomainControllerPasswordReplicationPolicy

Get-ADDomainControllerPasswordReplicationPolicyUsage

Get-ADFineGrainedPasswordPolicy

Get-ADFineGrainedPasswordPolicySubject

Get-ADForest

Get-ADGroup

Get-ADGroupMember

Get-ADObject

Get-ADOptionalFeature

Get-ADOrganizationalUnit

Get-ADPrincipalGroupMembership

Get-ADReplicationAttributeMetadata

Get-ADReplicationConnection

Get-ADReplicationFailure

Get-ADReplicationPartnerMetadata

Get-ADReplicationQueueOperation

Get-ADReplicationSite

Get-ADReplicationSiteLink

Get-ADReplicationSiteLinkBridge

Get-ADReplicationSubnet

Get-ADReplicationUpToDatenessVectorTable

Get-ADResourceProperty

Get-ADResourcePropertyList

Get-ADResourcePropertyValueType

Get-ADRootDSE

Get-ADServiceAccount

Get-ADTrust

Get-ADUser

Get-ADUserResultantPasswordPolicy

Grant-ADAuthenticationPolicySiloAccess

Install-ADServiceAccount

Move-ADDirectoryServer

Move-ADDirectoryServerOperationMasterRole

Move-ADObject

New-ADAuthenticationPolicy

New-ADAuthenticationPolicySilo

New-ADCentralAccessPolicy

New-ADCentralAccessRule

New-ADClaimTransformPolicy

New-ADClaimType

New-ADComputer

New-ADDCCloneConfigFile

New-ADFineGrainedPasswordPolicy

New-ADGroup

New-ADObject

New-ADOrganizationalUnit

New-ADReplicationSite

New-ADReplicationSiteLink

New-ADReplicationSiteLinkBridge

New-ADReplicationSubnet

New-ADResourceProperty

New-ADResourcePropertyList

New-ADServiceAccount

New-ADUser

Remove-ADAuthenticationPolicy

Remove-ADAuthenticationPolicySilo

Remove-ADCentralAccessPolicy

Remove-ADCentralAccessPolicyMember

Remove-ADCentralAccessRule

Remove-ADClaimTransformPolicy

Remove-ADClaimType

Remove-ADComputer

Remove-ADComputerServiceAccount

Remove-ADDomainControllerPasswordReplicationPolicy

Remove-ADFineGrainedPasswordPolicy

Remove-ADFineGrainedPasswordPolicySubject

Remove-ADGroup

Remove-ADGroupMember

Remove-ADObject

Remove-ADOrganizationalUnit

Remove-ADPrincipalGroupMembership

Remove-ADReplicationSite

Remove-ADReplicationSiteLink

Remove-ADReplicationSiteLinkBridge

Remove-ADReplicationSubnet

Remove-ADResourceProperty

Remove-ADResourcePropertyList

Remove-ADResourcePropertyListMember

Remove-ADServiceAccount

Remove-ADUser

Rename-ADObject

Reset-ADServiceAccountPassword

Restore-ADObject

Revoke-ADAuthenticationPolicySiloAccess

Search-ADAccount

Set-ADAccountAuthenticationPolicySilo

Set-ADAccountControl

Set-ADAccountExpiration

Set-ADAccountPassword

Set-ADAuthenticationPolicy

Set-ADAuthenticationPolicySilo

Set-ADCentralAccessPolicy

Set-ADCentralAccessRule

Set-ADClaimTransformLink

Set-ADClaimTransformPolicy

Set-ADClaimType

Set-ADComputer

Set-ADDefaultDomainPasswordPolicy

Set-ADDomain

Set-ADDomainMode

Set-ADFineGrainedPasswordPolicy

Set-ADForest

Set-ADForestMode

Set-ADGroup

Set-ADObject

Set-ADOrganizationalUnit

Set-ADReplicationConnection

Set-ADReplicationSite

Set-ADReplicationSiteLink

Set-ADReplicationSiteLinkBridge

Set-ADReplicationSubnet

Set-ADResourceProperty

Set-ADResourcePropertyList

Set-ADServiceAccount

Set-ADUser

Show-ADAuthenticationPolicyExpression

Sync-ADObject

Test-ADServiceAccount

Uninstall-ADServiceAccount

Unlock-ADAccount

Unlike prior tools that communicated with AD via LDAP, the AD PowerShell module communicates with a domain controller via Active Directory Web Services (ADWS). The ADWS role is installed on a domain controller during the promotion from a domain member server to a domain controller in Windows Server 2008 R2 and newer. You must install ADWS individually on Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2003. (included with the Active Directory Management Gateway Service).

Using RSAT-AD-PowerShell Module

PowerShell allows you to perform basic operations with the AD directory:

Get all AD properties and object attributes, modify object properties, manage AD groups, and create new directory objects, among other things.
Let’s look at some instances of how to use the RSAT-AD-PowerShell module’s cmdlets.

Run the command to retrieve a list of AD domain controllers.

Get-ADDomainController –filter *| format-table

You can create several AD users at once by importing the user list from CSV file Use it together with the New-ADUser cmdlet.
To get information about an AD user, use the Get-ADUser cmdlet:

Get-ADUser –identity t.muller –properties *

The similar cmdlet to display all computer attributes in AD:

Get-ADComputer –identity dc01 –properties *

To create an AD group, use the New-ADGroup cmdlet. To create a new group named ItalyUsers in a given OU, for example, run the command:

New-ADGroup -Path "OU=Groups,OU=Italy,DC=solutionviews,DC=com" -Name "ItalyUsers" -GroupScope Global -GroupCategory Distribution

To get the AD group info, use the Get-ADGroup cmdlet:

Get-ADGroup ItalyUsers

If you want to add a user or computer to an AD group, use the Add-ADGroupMember cmdlet:

Add-ADGroupMember –Identity ‘NY_Managers’ -Members s.adams,d.thumb,p.muller

Use the New-ADOrganizationalUnit cmdlet to create active directory organizational unit

New-ADOrganizationalUnit -Name "France"

Use the Unlock-ADAccount cmdlet to unlock user account in active directory domain:

Get-ADUser -Identity bjackson | Unlock-ADAccount

Or you can use the Set-ADAccountPassword to change or reset the user’s password:

$newPass=Read-Host "Enter the new user password" –AsSecureString 

Set-ADAccountPassword bjackson -NewPassword $newPass

For detailed help on any cmdlet from the AD-PoSh module, use the Get-Help command:

get-help set-aduser

If the computer is not a part of the Active Directory domain, the following warning appears when you try importing the AD-PoSh module:

WARNING: Error initializing default drive: ‘Unable to find a default server with Active Directory Web Services running’.

In this case, you need to specify the AD domain controller and user credentials to connect to it.

First of all, you need to get the user’s credentials to access the domain. Any authenticated domain user can view almost all AD objects properties (excluding protected Active Directory attributes).

$cred = Get-Credential

For example, to get the user’s info from the DC named TOR-DC01 under saved credentials, use the command:

get-aduser postfixsrv –server tor-dc01 -Credential $cred

As you can see, the AD account information has been sent to you.

So now you can manage and query Active Directory using PowerShell cmdlets.

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