Use PowerShell to Add Active Directory Users to Specific Groups based on a CSV file

I recently responded to a post in a forum about adding Active Directory users to groups with PowerShell based on information contained in a CSV (Comma Separated Values file format). I thought I would not only share the scenario and solution that I came up with but also elaborate on adding additional functionality that may be desired.

In this scenario, you’ve been provided with a CSV file that contains a list of Active Directory users and the groups that they should be a member of as shown in the following image:


Conventional wisdom would lead you down the path of iterating through each user and adding them to each group individually. How inefficient do you think that would be? In my opinion, it would be very inefficient to say the least. Also consider that this sounds like a task that will need to be repeated whenever new employees are hired or during those all too common restructuring of personnel events.

The Active Directory PowerShell module that’s installed as part of the RSAT (Remote Server Administration Tools) has previously been installed on the Windows 10 computer that’s being used throughout this blog article. It’s also a member of the Active Directory domain.

Let’s create a test OU (Organizational Unit) and then both the test users and groups that are specified in the CSV file:

After taking a look at the help for the Add-ADGroupMember cmdlet, only a single group can be specified at a time but multiple users can be added to that single group at once. Knowing this means that it would be much more efficient to iterate through the groups and add all of the necessary users to that particular group at once instead of iterating through each individual user and adding them to each specific group (one at a time):

I could also derive the information retrieved and stored in the Header variable from the Users variable but there’s not much overhead in querying the file twice since only the first row of the CSV is retrieved during one of those queries based on how the Get-Content command is written in the first line of the previous code example. Retrieving the header names (which become the property names) with a separate command has the added benefit of allowing all of the column names to be renamed in subsequent CSV’s without dependencies on their names as long as the users are specified in the first column and the group names are listed in the first row beginning with the second column.

The additional functionality that I’ve added in this blog article but not to my response in the forum post is logic to remove users from the groups where they’re not specified in the CSV as being a member of the group. This will be beneficial in those restructuring scenarios that I mentioned earlier to prevent users from having unnecessary rights when they’re moved to a new job role and the old permissions are no longer necessary for them to perform the duties required by their new position.

Consider adding logic to verify that the users and groups exist because errors will be generated if they don’t. If you wanted to turn this into a reusable tool that could be handed off to someone else, I would also recommend adding error handling as well as support for WhatIf and Confirm.



  1. Mike Delaney

    Wonderful post Mike!

    Quick question for you when calling the Add-ADGroupMember cmdlet. In my environment, that portion is failing due to nothing being passed to the Members param.

    I tried running the code to get the users by itself. It’s not returning anything on systems that don’t have PS v4 or higher installed. If I rewrite it to use legacy Where-object syntax, it returns no output. Interestingly though, if I use the .where operator, no output either.

    Does that script block require v4 or above?

  2. avihai

    for me, if i run each line separately, it works fine,
    but when i run the entire script i get error

  3. Rousselet

    Adding group member not working for me

    csv file:


    $Header = ((Get-Content -Path C:\UserGroups.csv -TotalCount 1) -split ‘;’).Trim()
    $Users = Import-Csv -Path C:\UserGroups.csv

    foreach ($Group in $Header[1..($Header.Count -1)]) {
    Add-ADGroupMember -Identity $Group -Members ($Users | Where-Object $Group -eq ‘X’ | Select-Object -ExpandProperty $Header[1])
    #Remove-ADGroupMember -Identity $Group -Members ($Users | Where-Object $Group -ne ‘X’ | Select-Object -ExpandProperty $Header[0]) -Confirm:$false

  4. thefinalreboot

    My users are in a nonstandard OU and I am getting an error. I have a similar .CSV.
    I keep getting the Object not found: (USERNAME:ADPrincipal) error.

    Do I have to modify the search scope?

  5. MT

    Any reason why I keep receiving the following error: Add-ADGroupMember : Cannot validate argument on parameter ‘Members’. The argument is null or empty. Provide an
    argument that is not null or empty, and then try the command again.

    I have set the file and script up just as above and still the same error.

  6. P A

    Hello Mike,
    Thank you for the blog.
    I am currently working on a user onboarding script and want to add users to groups after the account is created and having no luck on this and
    want to check if you can help me on this.

    My CSV looks like this

    Location firstname lastname department Group

    After the account is created i’m actually using the code below and only one user is getting added to the group and rest are ignored.

    #Adds user into department specific security groups
    If ($department -eq ‘departmemtname’)
    Add-ADGroupMember -Identity “Security Group” -Members $SAMAccountName


    ElseIf ($department -eq ‘departmentname’)
    Add-ADGroupMember -Identity Security Group” -Members $SAMAccountName

    Am i doing anything wrong here?


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