Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Community Participant

Explanation of in-line preview icon?

I am looking for a help document that explains the in-line preview icon Preview the document icon that appears in the RCE whenever you insert a download link, and what happens if you click that icon (it expands a preview window) versus the title of the embedded document (it downloads the document).

I have been repeatedly surprised to discover that a lot of Canvas users, both students and instructors, do not realize what the "preview the document" icon does. Could they learn by hovering over it? Yes. Do they hover actually try it, or do they just ignore the icon and click the document, thereby downloading the document? More often than you'd think.

I've searched and gone through the Canvas Student guide, and all I can find is this document: This document tells you how to preview files in the Files tool - I want something that explains the in-line preview icon inside a page, assignment, announcement, etc.

Why do we need this? Well, imagine that a student can only access course content on their smartphone or tablet. That student might need to take advantage of the preview because there isn't enough storage space on the device to be able to download it.

I'm baffled that I can't find this - is it somewhere and I just haven't searched the right term? If not, I think Canvas ought to have a very straight-forward help page available.

2 Replies
Community Champion

You raise an interesting point, kmurday‌. I put a few of my "former librarian" skills to work and could not find an obvious explanation of it, either. This may be something to alert the absolutely awesome  @CanvasDocTeam ‌ to, since their documentation really is second to none, in my own opinion.

I personally make pains to point it out in my face-to-face workshops to faculty, and I have to say that I've never really had students ask me about it.  And--as you point out--there is a screentip for it if one hovers their mouse over the icon. 

I might add that it renders in what is officially called the DocViewer, and here are few other articles you may find of interest, assuming you haven't seen them already:  What types of documents can be previewed in Canvas? and How do I use DocViewer in Canvas assignments as a student?   Again, though, that specific icon is not pointed out.

Perhaps others in the Community have found something that references it that we both missed!

Community Coach
Community Coach


Were you able to find an answer to your question? I am going to go ahead and mark this question as answered because there hasn't been any more activity in a while so I assume that you have the information that you need. If you still have a question about this or if you have information that you would like to share with the community, by all means, please do come back and leave a comment.  Also, if this question has been answered by one of the previous replies, please feel free to mark that answer as correct.