This post was most recently updated on November 23rd, 2018.
We’ve been observing an issue in SharePoint Online’s Search Index, where the Managed Property “PictureThumbnailURL” is always null, no matter what values the crawled properties it’s mapped to might contain.
The issue seems to have first appeared a few months ago. The first time we encountered it was maybe around July, 2018. Microsoft probably made some changes in SharePoint Search schema, and the property “PictureThumbnailURL” wouldn’t get values anymore. Pre-existing values were conserved, though.
All things considered, this does not seem like an intentional change.
Scope of the issue
This unfortunate change might break some 3rd party functionalities, and of course will make search results not display pictures. Returned results like Delve blog posts won’t show any thumbnails anymore – see an example below.
In the screenshot above, you can see properties “PictureThumbnailURL” (out-of-the-box managed property) and “PictureThumbnailURL2” (a property I created). The created property has mappings to same crawled properties as the out-of-the-box one. However, it’s not getting those values either.
The older post (published in early 2017) has a value for the PictureThumbnailURL. Apparently, the header photo has been succesfully crawled. The newer post (published in October 2018) has no value for the PictureThumbnailURL. Neither of them have value for the Managed Property I created afterwards, PictureThumbnailURL2.
Right now (November 2018), this indexing issue seems to affect most, if not all, of the dozens of SharePoint Online tenants I’ve seen in the last months.
Currently, there’s no solution. We have multiple tickets open about the issue, and Microsoft has been investigating it for a few months.
Lastly, I encourage you to open a new ticket about the case using Office365 Admin Portal’s Support-section. When enough customers let Microsoft know about the issue, there’s a better chance the issue gets fixed.
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