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Community Participant

Access denied message when attempting to Act As a colleague

Hi Canvas brains trust,

One of our teachers is experiencing a strange problem when they try to masquerade as a colleague. Perhaps someone can explain what's going wrong.

The two teachers have identical account admin permissions (I have checked this many times), but different course level enrolments. When teacher A tries to masquerade as teacher B, they get an Access Denied message at the point where they click "Proceed" to masquerade. Apparently it works fine the other way round.

Any insight - or even random guesses - would be most appreciated! 

Access Denied Screenshot

7 Replies
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi Isobel,

Where are they in the system when they attempt to masquerade as the other person?  When I see that message after masquerading, it's usually because the person that I'm masquerading as does not have access to the course--such as a student in a course that is not published, for instance.

Just an idea!


Community Participant

Thanks for your reply Michael. To clarify, Teacher A gets the Access Denied message as soon as click the "proceed" button to act as Teacher B. In other words, they are blocked from viewing Teacher B's dashboard. 

I have a feeling it's permissions related but they have the same high-level account admin permissions.  

Hi Isobel,

That is a right conundrum! Out of curiosity, can Teacher B masquerade as Teacher A or do they get the same message? Also, is there anyone else that seems to be affected or only those two accounts?


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Hi Stuart,

Teacher B can masquerade as Teacher A no problem. No one else has reported this problem at our institution. Unfortunately neither our IT Team nor Canvas Support has been able to help.


Coach Emeritus

Hi Isobel,

Thanks for that! OK so here are some COMPLETE shots in the dark for things that have come to my mind:

  • Is Teacher A linked to anyone as an observer (I am wondering whether this could cause it to be blocked, though I have not heard of it before)
  • Can anyone else Masquerade as Teacher A (i.e. your school admin, do they get the same access denied error, or only Teacher B?)
  • You mentioned that you have checked identical account level permissions numerous times to be sure, but I am wondering if Teacher A might have access to a different account/sub-account that Teacher B does not? While I have not specifically tested that scenario, I could see that if Teacher A also had access to another account/sub-account that the system would not let Teacher B masquerade as them. To clarify, this is more about access in Sub-accounts other than the ones that Teacher B has access to (hope that makes sense)
  • Would it be possible (with your School's Canvas Admin's Support) to upgrade Teacher B to full account admin temporarily (basically with them in the room as they wouldn't/shouldn't leave the upgraded access there long) just long enough to see if once they have full admin permissions on your entire Canvas account whether they can then Masquerade as teacher A?

Essentially trying to work through a process of elimination to try to narrow this down further, I will keep my thinking cap on to see if there is anything else I can come up with.

Look forward to hearing from you!

Thank you very much  @stuart_ryan  for your assistance with troubleshooting this issue. I took up your suggestion of experimenting in Test, and noticed Teacher B has a great variety of course level permissions for dozens of courses, some high level. I have stripped all those out now and asked Teacher A to log in to Test and see if the problem is fixed. I will keep you posted.

Cheers Isobel

Hi Isobel,

HUZZAH! Hopefully a good lead, I look forward to hearing if that helps and if the problem is fixed. Please keep us posted.


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