Monthly Archives: June 2017

Add a Domain User to the Local Administrators Group

When building out a workstation for an AD Domain user, in some environments the user is added to the local Administrators group to allow the user to install and configure applications. Now there are some of us who think that's a Bad Idea and a Security Risk, but the reality is that it's policy in some organizations. Doing this with the GUI is easy, but who wants to have to use the GUI for anything? Especially for a highly repetitive task that you're going to have to do on every user's workstation. So, let's use PowerShell and [ADSI] to do the heavy lifting.

The first step is to define the target we want to add the user to:

$ComputerName = "workstation01"
$Group = "Administrators"

Next, we invoke the Add method on that target to add the user to the group.

$Domain = 'TreyResearch'
$UserName = 'Charlie.Russel'

And that's really all there is to it.

(Note, by the way, that this is one of the only places in PowerShell where CASE MATTERS. the WinNT commands are case sensitive so don't change that to winnt or WINNT. It won't work. )

Finally, let's pull all that together into a script that accepts the user name, the target computer, and the AD Domain as parameters:

Adds a user to the Local Administrators group
Add-myLocalAdmin adds a user to the local Administrators group on a computer. 
Add-myLocalAdmin Charlie.Russel 
Adds the TreyResearch user Charlie.Russel to the Administrators local group on the localhost.
Add-myLocalAdmin Charlie.Russel -ComputerName ws-crussel-01
Adds the TreyResearch user Charlie.Russel to the Administrators local group on ws-crussel-01.
Add-myLocalAdmin -UserName Charlie.Russel -ComputerName ws-crussel-01 -Domain Contoso
Adds the Contoso user Charlie.Russel to the Administrators local group on ws-crussel-01.
.Parameter UserName
The username to add to the Administrators local group. This should be in the format first.last. 
.Parameter ComputerName
[Optional] The computer on which to modify the Administrators group. The default is localhost
.Parameter Domain
[Optional] The user's Active Directory Domain. The default is TreyResearch.
    Author: Charlie Russel
 Copyright: 2017 by Charlie Russel
          : Permission to use is granted but attribution is appreciated
   Initial: 21 June, 2017 (cpr)
     $ComputerName = 'localhost',
     $Domain = 'TreyResearch'

$Group = 'Administrators'

# Please be warned. The syntax of [ADSI] is CASE SENSITIVE!


Copying AD User Group Permissions with PowerShell

One of the tasks that I'm often asked to perform as an Active Directory domain administrator is to assign a user the same set of permissions as an existing user. This is something you can do fairly easily in the GUI (Active Directory Users and Computers, dsa.msc) when you're first creating the user, but which is a pain if the target user already exists. Turns out PowerShell can help with this, of course.

First, you need to get the list of groups that the template or source user ($TemplateUser) is a member of. That's fairly simple:

$UserGroups =@()
$UserGroups = (Get-ADUser -Identity $TemplateUser -Properties MemberOf).MemberOf

A couple of important points in the above:

  • First, you should create the empty array first. That tells PowerShell that you're going to be creating a list of groups, not a single one. You can often get away without doing this at the command line because of PowerShell's command line magic, but in a script, you need to be explicit.
  • Second, you need to include the MemberOf property in the Get-ADUser query. By default, that isn't returned and you'll end up with an empty $UserGroups variable.

So, you've got a list of groups. If you're just doing an "additive" group membership change, all you need to do is add the target user ($TargetUser) to the all the groups. However, if you want to exactly match the group memberships, you need to first remove the target user from any groups s/he is part of before adding groups back. To do that, we need to first find out what groups the target user is currently in with much the same command as above:

$CurrentGroups = @()
$CurrentGroups = (Get-ADUser -Identity $TargetUser -Properties MemberOf).MemberOf

Now, we can remove the user from all current groups with:

foreach ($Group in $CurrentGroups) {
    Remove-ADGroupMember -Identity $Group -Members $TargetUser

Notice in the above that -Identity is the identity of the group, not the user. This is because we're acting on the groups, not acting on the user(s).

Finally, we can now add $TargetUser back in to the groups that $TemplateUser had with:

foreach ($Group in $UserGroups) {
    Add-ADGroupMember -Identity $Group -Members $TargetUser

All of this, of course, happens quietly with no confirmation. So, just to verify that everything went as expected, use:

(Get-ADUser -Identity $TargetUser -Properties MemberOf).MemberOf

And you should get back a list of user groups the target user is now a member of.

Note: If you're including this code in a new user script, you won't need to remove the user from current groups, merely add them to the same groups as the template user.