Powershell Connect to Office 365 and Exchange Online

PowerShell is a great way to manage your Office 365 environment. It allows you to automate a lot of task by writing your own scripts or change settings with a single command. Now the first step, of course, is to connect PowerShell to Office 365.

PowerShell Connect to Office 365

There are two ways to connect PowerShell to Office to manage the basic Office 365 environment, the older Microsoft Azure Active Directory Module for Windows Powershell (MSOnline) and the newer Azure Active Directory PowerShell for Graph (AzureAD).

You will need both at the moment of writing, AzureAD is the successor of MSOnline, but not all functionalities are available in the newer AzureAD module.

Installing the PowerShell Modules

First, we are going to install both modules. You can use them both together on your system without any problems.

  1. Install AzureAD module in PowerShell


    Open PowerShell in admin mode (Windows key + X and select Windows PowerShell Admin)
    Type the following command:

    Install-Module AzureAD

    This will install the AzureAD module from the PowerShell Gallery, you might get a warning that the source is untrusted, but you can safely type Y and press enter.

  2. Install Microsoft Online Services Sign-In Assistant


    The MSOnline module requires a little more work. First, download and install the Microsoft Online Services Sign-In Assistant.

  3. Install the MSOnline Module


    Next, we are going to install the module in PowerShell. Run the following command in PowerShell:

    Install-Module MSOnline

Connecting PowerShell to Office 365

We now have both modules installed, so we can now connect PowerShell to Office 365. Most documentation is still written for the MSOnline module so let’s start there.

To connect to the MSOnline service you need to run the command Connect-MSolService, this will prompt you with a standard Microsoft Sign-box for your Office 365 credentials.

Connect Office 365 and Exchange to PowerShell

You can now use the MSol cmdlets in PowerShell, you can find an overview of the cmdlets here in the Microsoft Docs

Connecting with AzureAD

Connecting the new AzureAD is pretty much the same, just run the command Connect-AzureAD. You will be prompted to log in with your Microsoft account, just like with MSol. An overview of the cmdlets from the AzureAD module can be found here.

Powershell Connect to Exchange Online

Connecting to Exchange Online is a little bit different, you don’t need to install a module for this. But we are going to make a connecting to Exchange Online with implicit remoting.

With the code below we are creating a credential object, build the session and import it into our PowerShell session:

$Cred = Get-Credential
$Session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri https://ps.outlook.com/powershell/ -Credential $Cred -Authentication Basic -AllowRedirection
Import-PSSession $Session -DisableNameChecking

If you are using MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) then you can’t use the Get-Credential method. Now you have to option to solve this, use an App Password or use the Exchange Online Remote PowerShell Module.

I prefer to use an app password, this way you can quickly set up a connection to all Office 365 services with PowerShell.

Using an App Password

MFA is a great security addition but can be a pain when it comes to automating things with PowerShell. The solve this problem you can create an App Password in Office 365. This is a strong password that you can use for an app that doesn’t support MFA.

  1. Login on Office 365 and goto https://portal.office.com/account/#security.
  2. Select Additional Security Verification
  3. Select Create and manage app passwords (last line)
  4. Create a new App Password for PowerShell

Now if you want to connect of Office 365 with PowerShell you can do the following:

# Store your credentials - Enter you username and the app password
$Cred = Get-Credential

# Connect to Msol
Connect-MsolService -Credential $Cred

# Connect to AzureAd
Connect-AzureAD -Credential $Cred

# Connect to Exchange Online
$Session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri https://ps.outlook.com/powershell/ -Credential $Cred -Authentication Basic -AllowRedirection
Import-PSSession $Session -DisableNameChecking

As you can see you only have to login once. We can use the same credential object for every connection.

If also created a couple of PowerShell scripts that you can use to easily connect to all Office 365 services. You will find them in my TechNet Gallery. They have the ability to store the App Password in a secure string on your computer, so you can fully automate your scripts.

Conclusion

Connecting to Office 365 with PowerShell is really simple. If you are using MFA then the App Password is the most convenient way to go.

When you are done with Exchange Online, always make sure you close the session with Remove-PSSession $Session.

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