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PHP : Function Reference : LDAP Functions : ldap_search


Search LDAP tree (PHP 4, PHP 5)
resource ldap_search ( resource link_identifier, string base_dn, string filter [, array attributes [, int attrsonly [, int sizelimit [, int timelimit [, int deref]]]]] )

Example 1122. LDAP search

// $ds is a valid link identifier for a directory server

// $person is all or part of a person's name, eg "Jo"

$dn = "o=My Company, c=US";
$justthese = array("ou", "sn", "givenname", "mail");

$sr=ldap_search($ds, $dn, $filter, $justthese);

$info = ldap_get_entries($ds, $sr);

$info["count"]." entries returned\n";

Code Examples / Notes » ldap_search


When searching for BINARY data (such as an Active Directory objectGUID) you need to escape each hexadecimal character with a backslash.
The following command line run of ldapsearch shows:
ldapsearch -b "dc=blahblah,dc=com" "(objectGUID=\AE\C3\23\35\F7)"
In PHP, you need to escape the escape for the backslash:
ldap_search($ds,"dc=blahblah,dc=com", "(objectGUID=\\AE\\C3\\23\\35\\F7)");

kamil kukura
When I tried to search with empty base DN on OpenLDAP server which had "" namingContext I got result "no such object". In the log file there was query for dn: dc=example,dc=com (!).
As a workaround, it seems it's enough to feed it with space (' ') as base DN - ldap_search($ds, ' ', '(...filter...)', ...


When I discovered I couldn't get searches to work with complex strings (in my case searching on displayName which can have parens and slashes in it). I made this quick function to quote ldap strings in accordance with the RFC. Except I encode spaces as well since searching wouldn't work with spaces. Note, technically speaking a search filter can be encoded into the \xx format for all characters but then filters wouldn't be human readable.
I'm somewhat surprised there wasn't a built in ldap_quote() type of function already.
// see: RFC2254
function ldap_quote($str) {
       return str_replace(
               array( '\\', ' ', '*', '(', ')' ),
               array( '\\5c', '\\20', '\\2a', '\\28', '\\29' ),


Try to use ldap_list(), if possible.  It is much faster.  ldap_search searches a scope of LDAP_SCOPE_SUBTREE, but ldap_list searches a scope of just LDAP_SCOPE_ONELEVEL.  This made a big difference on Novell eDirectory 8.6.1, even for a query that only returned 130 objects.  Using an attribute list, the 4th function parameter (of either function), also made queries faster.

php @ fccfurn dot com

To do subtree search from top DN in Active Directory, Make sure you do your ldap_set_option().
$ldap_host = "";
$base_dn = "DC=php,DC=net";
$filter = "(cn=Joe User)";
$ldap_user  = "CN=Joe User,OU=Sales,DC=php,DC=net";
$ldap_pass = "pass";
$connect = ldap_connect( $ldap_host, $ldap_port)
        or exit(">>Could not connect to LDAP server<<");
ldap_set_option($connect, LDAP_OPT_PROTOCOL_VERSION, 3);
ldap_set_option($connect, LDAP_OPT_REFERRALS, 0);
$bind = ldap_bind($connect, $ldap_user, $ldap_pass)
     or exit(">>Could not bind to $ldap_host<<");
$read = ldap_search($connect, $base_dn, $filter)
     or exit(">>Unable to search ldap server<<");
$info = ldap_get_entries($connect, $read);
echo $info["count"]." entries returned

for ($i=0; $ii<$info[$i]["count"]; $ii++){
   $data = $info[$i][$ii];
   echo $data.":&nbsp;&nbsp;".$info[$i][$data][0]."


The internal attributes (like createTimestamp, modifyTimestamp, etc), don't come by default (when the optional parameter attributes is not set). You have to specify it:


PHP 4.3.10
I was trying to do an ldapsearch without a basedn.  First, I tried with ' ', as suggested above, but it gave me invalid dn syntax error.
$sr=ldap_search($ds, ' ', $filter);
Warning: ldap_search(): Search: Invalid DN syntax in ...
Then I changed it to
$sr=ldap_search($ds, "", $filter);
Which gave me the following error:
Warning: ldap_search(): Search: No such object in ...
With that I then modified my ldap.conf file and commented out the BASE field
#BASE   dc=example, dc=com
Then it worked!
So it looks like if you supply a blank basedn, then it will use your default basedn in ldap.conf.


Minor clarification on AD LDAP searchs. Small typo in previous example, and does not display multiple values per attribute. Here's the for loop to enumerate all entries, attributes, and values:
$bind = ldap_bind($connect) // asume anon connect or add user/pass
    or exit(">>Could not bind to $ldap_host<<");
$read = ldap_search($connect, $base_dn, $filter)
    or exit(">>Unable to search ldap server<<");
$info = ldap_get_entries($connect, $read);
echo $info["count"]." entries returned
// $i = entries
// $ii = attributes for entry
// $iii = values per attribute
for ($i = 0; $i<$info["count"]; $i++) {
 for ($ii=0; $ii<$info[$i]["count"]; $ii++){
    $data = $info[$i][$ii];
    for ($iii=0; $iii<$info[$i][$data]["count"]; $iii++) {
      echo $data.":&nbsp;&nbsp;".$info[$i][$data][$iii]."
echo "

"; // separate entries


LDAP stuff is very nicely capsulated in the object oriented Net_LDAP class provided by PEAR:

francis dot tyers

it seems that all fields must be used in lower case even if they are mixed case in the ldapsearch output.
gidNumber: 1010
homeDirectory: /home/dnt
must be:
echo "gid: " . $info[$i]["gidnumber"][0] . "
echo "home directory: ". $info[$i]["homedirectory"][0] ."
not ( $info[$i]["homeDirectory"][0] ) etc.

nick dot veitch

It might be useful to list here the operators that work:
=         - matches exact value
=*xxx  - matches values ending xxx
=xxx*  - matches values beginning xxx
=*xxx* - matches values containing xxx
=*       - matches all values (if set - NULLS are not returned)
>=xxx  - matches everthing from xxx to end of directory
<=xxx  - matches everything up to xxx in directory
~=xxx      - matches similar entries (not all systems)
Boolean operators for constructing complex search
&(term1)(term2)  - matches term1 AND term2
| (term1)(term2)  - matches term1 OR term2
!(term1)                 - matches NOT term1
&(|(term1)(term2))(!(&(term1)(term2)) - matches XOR term1 term2
some of the more compelx constructions seem to work with varying  degrees of efficiency - sometimes it can be better to filter some of the results with the search and do further filtering in PHP.


It appears that the Netscape Directory SDK ( referenced for LDAP filter information is no longer accepting connections.   The A copy of RFC 2254 which defines the standard for string representations of LDAP filters can be found  at


In order to perform the searches on Windows 2003 Server Active Directory you have to set the LDAP_OPT_REFERRALS option to 0:
ldap_set_option($ldap, LDAP_OPT_REFERRALS, 0);
Without this, you will get "Operations error" if you try to search the whole AD schema (using root of the domain as a $base_dn).
As opposed to Windows 2000 Server, where this option was optional and only increased the performance.


implode(", ",$uentry[0]["rfc822mailalias"]);
doesn't work as expected because "count" is in there... one /must/ use the 'for' loop to cycle through results (discarding "count" element).


If you are searching active directory and are experiencing lag or time outs, it may be that you are being given ldap referrals from the ldap server. The following code will disable this.
ldap_set_option($connect, LDAP_OPT_REFERRALS, 0);


If you are just trying to run LDAP searches against Active Directory, you might find it easier to use the COM objects and use the ADSI ldap search function.  This allows you to use SQL based LDAP queries.  It also allows you to perform subtree level searches in AD.
Here is a quick example.
$Conn = New COM("ADODB.Connection");
$RS = New COM("ADODB.Recordset");
$Conn->Provider = "ADsDSOObject";
$Conn->Properties['User ID'] = "CN=ZimZam,CN=Users,DC=corp,DC=ad,DC=bob,DC=prv";
$Conn->Properties['Password'] = "anythingyouwant";
$strConn = "Active Directory Provider";
$strRS = "Select givenname,sn,displayName,mail,SAMAccountName from 'LDAP://,DC=ad,DC=bob,DC=prv' where objectClass='user' and SAMAccountName='abc123';
$RS->Open($strRS, $Conn, 1, 1);
echo $RS['givenname'] ." - ". $RS['sn'] ." - ". $RS['displayName'] ." - ". $RS['mail'] ." - ".  $RS['SAMAccountName'] ."


I've found that spaces need to be escaped in search filters ("\20"), at least using the Red Hat PHP 4.1.2 package.  Otherwise no results are returned.


I was doing a ldap_search with
$searchbasedn = "miDomainName=" . $_SESSION['selectDomain'] ."," . LDAP_DOMAINBASE;
$filter = "(&(mpsAccountNumber=". $acctNumber .")(objectclass=mpsAccountDetails))";    
$attributes = array("mpsparentchild");
$sr = ldap_search($ldapconn, $searchbasedn, $filter,$attributes);  
For some reasone this search was failing
but I was able to do successful search only when I gave the search filter as
$filter = "(&(mpsAccountNumber= $acctNumber )(objectclass=mpsAccountDetails))";    
I did not get why the ldap_search was not able to search in the first case.


I was completely lost trying to setup LDAP access with a Windows Server 2003 environment, but I finally got it to work. Here's a lifesaving tip:
-Script/web server cannot be located on the Active Directory server that you are querying
As well, here's the sample code I used:
//This code cannot be executed on the same server as AD is installed on!!!

   $ad = ldap_connect("ad server");

//Set some variables
ldap_set_option($ad, LDAP_OPT_PROTOCOL_VERSION, 3);
ldap_set_option($ad, LDAP_OPT_REFERRALS, 0);

//Bind to the ldap directory
   $bd = ldap_bind($ad,"","password")
    or die("Couldn't bind to AD!");
//Search the directory
   $result = ldap_search($ad, "OU=orginizational unit,DC=domain,DC=com", "(CN=*)");
//Create result set
   $entries = ldap_get_entries($ad, $result);

//Sort and print
echo "User count: " . $entries["count"] . "<br /><br /><b>Users:</b><br />";
   for ($i=0; $i < $entries["count"]; $i++)
       echo $entries[$i]["displayname"][0]."<br />";
//never forget to unbind!

01-sep-2001 03:13

I used the following to retrieve all entries from an ILS (Netmeeting) Server:

   $sr=ldap_search($ds, "objectclass=rtperson","(&(cn=%)(objectclass=rtperson))");

Have fun!



I just posted on the ldap_bind, but I figured it couldn't hurt here since this was the first place I stopped when trying to figure out my problem.  My error pointed to ldap_search, but specifying the ldap_connect port was the fix.
When you want to search the entire directory for MS AD, you must specify port 3268 in your bind.  This is also true for apache auth_ldap.
$ldapserver = ldap_connect($server,3268);

alain schnerb

I had problem searching into Microsoft Active Directory
with ldap_search.
System administrator does not want to change the 1.000 limit
of returned result because of Domain Controler performance.
Here is a example of code that activates the Page Mode.
See "searching with ActiveX Data Objects (ADO)" on MSDN
for more details.
$connection = New COM("ADODB.Connection");
$commande = New COM("ADODB.Command");
$resultat = New COM("ADODB.Recordset");
$connection->Provider = "ADsDSOObject";
$commande->ActiveConnection = $connection ;
$commande->Properties["Cache results"] = false;
$commande->Properties["Page size"] = 1000;
$recherche1 = "<LDAP://OU=XXXX,OU=Ressources_Locales,DC=COMMUN,
$recherche2 = ";(&(objectCategory=group)
$commande->commandtext = $recherche1.$recherche2;
$resultat = $commande->Execute();
$count = 0;
while (!$resultat->eof())
if ($count<10)
echo $resultat["distinguishedname"]."
$count = $count +1;
echo $count."

27-jan-2006 11:53

HOWTO list LDAP users.
This CODE list one user from LDAP tree, but I' like list all user from LDAP one ou=Organization
$ldaprdn = 'cn=user,dc=domain,dc=org';
$ldappass = 'password';
$sdn = 'cn=user,ou=group,dc=domain,dc=org';
$ldapconn = ldap_connect("ldap://localhost", 389)
or die("Not connect: $ldaphost ");
if ($ldapconn) {
// binding to ldap server
$ldapbind = ldap_bind($ldapconn, $ldaprdn, $ldappass);
// verify binding
if ($ldapbind) {
$justthese = array("uid");
$sr=ldap_read($ldapconn, $srdn, $filter, $justthese);
$entry = ldap_get_entries($ldapconn, $sr);
} else {
echo "LDAP conn ok...";
echo $entry[0]["mail"][0] . " mail adress ";
echo $entry[0]["sn"][0] . " Name ";


Here is a little script that make a complete subtree search ( i know a script above seems do that but it doesnt work fine)
This is my version:
Voila ce que j'ai fait aujourd'hui ...
     $ldap_host = "";
$ldap_port = "389";
$base_dn = "dc=fr";
$filter = "(cn=*)";
$ldap_user ="cn=admin,dc=fr";
$ldap_pass = "hellodelu";
$connect = ldap_connect( $ldap_host, $ldap_port);
ldap_set_option($connect, LDAP_OPT_PROTOCOL_VERSION, 3);
$bind = ldap_bind($connect, $ldap_user, $ldap_pass);
$read = ldap_search($connect, $base_dn, $filter);

$info = ldap_get_entries($connect, $read);
echo $info["count"]." entrees retournees
for($ligne = 0; $ligne<$info["count"]; $ligne++)
for($colonne = 0; $colonne<$info[$ligne]["count"]; $colonne++)
$data = $info[$ligne][$colonne];
echo $data.":".$info[$ligne][$data][0]."
echo "


Here are a couple of resources for proper construction of filters.
Before finding these I had been stumped for hours on how to do something like "all users starting with "a" except those from OU 'foo'"


FYI, for those doing LDAP searches on Exchange servers, there seems to be some preference in Exchange to disallow searches that aren't initial searches (i.e. only x* will work, not * or *x). I'd been going nuts trying to figure out why I kept getting errors doing * searches.
More info at:


Be careful of special characters when generating filters from user input.
*, (, ), \ and NUL should be backslash-escaped. See section 4 of RFC 2254 (I found it here:


A previous comment noted: "I've also noticed that the departmentNumber, employeeNumber (and maybe others in inetorgperson.schema) are not returned from a search."
This is incorrect. These attributes are returned, but you must reference them with lowercase names. That is, instead of doing this:
Do this:
This doesn't seem like "correct" behavior to me, but I don't know enough about LDAP to say for sure.

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