SharePoint's hidden user-list - User Information List

Update 2016: This post was originally written in June 2008, but the User Information List still exist in the current versions of SharePoint. Enjoy.

Okay, this might not come as news to most SharePoint developers who’ve been around a while, but lately I’ve been messing with the User Information List in SharePoint and it doesn’t seem that many people know that it exists.

Note: This list is only visible to and accessible by administrators.

User Information List – Background

The User Information List stores information about a user by having some metadata set up for the user. Some examples are Picture, Email, DisplayName, LoginName etc. ) For a complete list of fields, see further down this blogpost under "User Information List Fields".

Something to note is that when a user is granted access to a site, a new item will be created in the User Information List storing some information about the user.

When a user add/create or edit an item, SharePoint will display something like "Last modified at 1/1/2008 by Tobias Zimmergren" like the following pic:


In this example the DisplayName (used to display System Account) is gathered from the User Information List

Browsing the User Information List

The User Information List can be accessed (Only if you’re admin) via the browser by navigating to /_catalogs/users/simple.aspx from your site. (Like this for example:

Updated 2016: This works on SharePoint 2007, SharePoint 2010, SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint 2016.

Accessing the list on a SharePoint 2007 environment through a browser may look like this


Write code to interact with the User Information List

If you want to interact with this list to set properties on a user (Probably only want to do this if you’re running WSS) you could do it like this:

// Instantiates the User Information List 
SPList userInformationList = SPContext.Current.Web.SiteUserInfoList;

// Get the current user 
SPUser user = SPContext.Current.Web.EnsureUser(@"ZIMMERGREN\TobiasZimmergren");

// The actual User Information is within this ListItem 

SPListItem userItem = userInformationList.Items.GetItemById(user.ID);

The above code will give you the SPListItem object which links to the currently logged in user (the one executing the request).

You can then work with the SPListItem object like normal to get or set the properties like this:

string pictureURL = userItem["Picture"].ToString();
User Information List Fields

Instead of writing out all the fields/columns availible, you can simply create a new Console Application and insert the following code in order to output all the fields names and internalnames:

Note: You will ofcourse have to change the URL and User LoginName

Thank you for reading

Hope this will enlighten some of you people in your quest for the holy grail (SharePoint All-Mighty Knowledge?)

About Tobias Zimmergren

Hi, I'm Tobias. I plan, architect and develop software and distributed cloud services. Nice to meet you!