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Community Contributor

PDFs not opening correctly in Canvas

We are not experiencing unexpected behavior when trying to access PDFs from the mobile version and desktop version of Canvas. Instead of the file being opened directly, we are redirected to course files and sometimes in the mobile app prompted to enter the username and password again.

7 Replies
Community Contributor

PDF behavior in Canvas iOS is causing huge issues in my district as a result of the last upgrade.  My CSM has promised to send me daily engineering updates until this is fixed.  Please submit a ticket if this is a problem for your institution.  The fix cannot come fast enough for us!  Here are a couple of comments from our teachers (from among many):

  • The new update sucks. When the kids are downloading assignments into goodnotes they now have to download the pdf to safari then upload into goodnotes. this now adds 2 steps to such an easy and seamless process. Am I missing something or is this how it will be from now on. Again the kids used to be able to download directly from canvas to goodnotes now they have to go from canvas to safari then to goodnotes.
  • A teacher reported to me that the pdf files she uploads for her students are now forcing them to log into Canvas after they click on the link. The students are on iPads It then uploads the file in a pdf web version. Then they can upload it to the GoodNotes app they are using. They can no longer mark on the document within Canvas either.  This is not what has happened prior to yesterday. Students have not had to log into Canvas to access pdf files. This is a big problem because we tell our teachers to provide their students with pdf forms of their documents so the formatting is stable no matter what apps they are using.
Community Team
Community Team

Please follow the progress of the resolution of this issue at Canvas Status - Issues with Rich Content Editor in Canvas 

Stephanie, Is the RCE issue directly responsible for PDFs not opening in the iOS Canvas app?

 @kristin_bayless ‌, it's hard to say. The coincident timing is suspect, but of course, correlation is not necessarily causation. The best course of action is to submit support tickets so the engineers have more cases to evaluate.

New Member

This has created a big issue for our District as well.   What was a two step process to transfer files from the mobile canvas app to notability has become a five step complicated process.   

Hi  @kristin_bayless ‌,

If the PDFs the students are trying to open are from links on a page, then use the RCE is responsible. From what I can tell with the latest update, the RCE puts in the link to files in a different way than it used to.Go back to a page you made with files from before October 28 and see if those PDFs behave the way you expect.

Currently the URL is composed to look like canvasURL/files?verifier=long-string-of-characters&preview=12345678

I've had to go into HTML editor and update the link to read with canvasURL/courses/1111111/files/12345678/download

where 1111111 = the course number, and 12345678 = the file number.

Good luck,
Cheers - Shar

The fix appears to have worked on new PDFs posted after today's install.  It doesn't appear that PDFs created between last week's update and now work.  They open, but don't have the option to load to anther app except for Safari. But that's a small price to pay for having it working.  Hooray!!  Many thanks to the Instructure staff who worked on getting this done quickly.