Resolving “User does not exist or is not unique” error in SharePoint 2010

Let’s say you have a SharePoint farm running in your DMZ, part of EXTERNAL domain. There is also an internal domain called INTERNAL. There is a one-way trust from EXTERNAL to INTERNAL domain – External trusts Internal. You are trying to add a user from INTERNAL to your EXTERNAL SharePoint 2010 site and grant them permission, and you’re getting the following error:

User does not exist or is not unique

In the SharePoint logs, you find something like this:

Error in resolving user ‘internal\john.smith:
System.Runtime.InteropServices.COMException (0x8007052E): Logon failure:
unknown user name or bad password.

You suspect that the issue is related to the peoplepicker misconfiguration. Reading the TechNet article on the topic provides some clues:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc263460(v=office.12).aspx

Running the following STSADM command:

stsadm -o setapppassword -password somepassword12345678

stsadm -o setproperty -url https://sharepointsite -pn
“peoplepicker-searchadforests” -pv
“domain:internal.domain.com,internal\username,password”

However, the error persists – still getting the same error! What gives?

The command is not correct – make sure that you use the proper terms for your AD configuration.
In my case, instead of “domain:internal.domain.com”, I had to use “forest:internal.domain.com”. Here’s the full command:

stsadm -o setapppassword -password somepassword12345678

stsadm -o setproperty -url https://sharepointsite -pn
“peoplepicker-searchadforests” -pv
forest:internal.domain.com,internal\username,password”

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