ichi80
New Member

Restricting Access to File Folders

I'm uploading course materials into the main Files section in Canvas. The course materials is organized in folders by course topics and access to the file folders is restricted based on who needs the materials. I marked "Only available to students with link" for each folder. I have the students organized into different groups (based on the topics) and placed a link for each of the file folders in a discussion post in the group's homepage. When I click on the link, it takes me to the Files section, but it says "The specified resource does not exist." I would like for the file folder to appear when someone clicks on the link. Is there a way to set that up?

Thanks for your assistance!

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6 Replies
Chris_Hofer
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hello there, @ichi80 ...

Interesting! After you set the folder to the permission of "Only available with link", how did you obtain a link for that folder? Did you right-click on the folder name on the right side of your "FIles" screen to copy the link? That is what I did, and my link looked something like this:

https://SchoolName.instructure.com/courses/123456/files/folders/FolderName

...where SchoolName is your school's Canvas environment URL, 123456 is the Course ID number, and FolderName is the name of your folder in your Canvas course.

I tried pasting my URL from the course "Files" area into a discussion topic within a group I had in my own sandbox course. After I saved the discussion topic, I clicked on the link, and it took me directly inside the folder where I had an image stored. So, in my testing, things worked as expected. (I also had my "Files" screen hidden from student view...if that matters.

Can you maybe detail your process a bit more or even record a quick screencast to post here so Community members can see exactly what is happening? Maybe a screenshot or two would be fine if you're not able to record a quick video screencast.

Looking forward to hearing back from you soon!

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Hi @Chris_Hofer,

Yes, I got the link for the file folder by right clicking on the folder name and copying the link. I also tried opening the file folder and copy and pasting the link from the browser url. Here is how I currently have it set up:

  • In the Course Files section, I created a folder titled "Course Materials". In the "Course Materials" folder, I have subfolders for each topic. Each topic subfolder has three folders where I organized the content. I would like the link to bring individuals to the topic subfolders and they should see all the documents in that folder. The "Course Materials" folder is published and visible, however the topic subfolders are not. "Only available with link" is selected for each topic subfolder. Here is an example of the folder structure:
    • Course Materials (Published)
      • Topic 1 (Only available with link) --> Link to this folder
        • Topic folder 1
        • Topic folder 2
        • Topic folder 3
      • Topic 2 (Only available with link) --> Link to this folder
        • Topic folder 1
        • Topic folder 2
        • Topic folder 3
      • Topic 3 (Only available with link) --> Link to this folder
        • Topic folder 1
        • Topic folder 2
        • Topic folder 3
    • In the People section, I created groups for each topic. Individuals will be placed into the groups based on their assigned topics (they will be in more than one group). In the group homepages, I created a discussion and placed the link for the file folder associated to the group in the discussion post.

When I clicked on the link in the discussion in the group homepage, a window for the files open, however it says "The specified resource does not exist."

Thanks for any assistance/guidance that you can provide.

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gnoack
Community Champion

Hi @ichi80 and @Chris_Hofer

I did some testing and I was only able to get the folder links to work if the folder was set to public. It's my understanding of the visibility settings that the "only available with link" is designed to hide files from students if you make your entire Files available to students in the course navigation. I suspect this is causing the issue.

"When the Only available to students with link option is set, the file can only be viewed if students are given the link to the file. This option only hides files from students in Course Files. This functionality is not valid outside of the Files feature."

https://community.canvaslms.com/t5/Instructor-Guide/How-do-I-restrict-files-and-folders-to-students-...

Since you are linking to a folder, not a file, this control is keeping students from seeing the files.

https://community.canvaslms.com/t5/Instructor-Guide/How-do-I-restrict-files-and-folders-to-students-...

It's my understanding that Canvas doesn't fully support linking to folders, but linking to the folder URL as an external hyperlink works, but only if it's public.

I would recommend you put links to the files on a page. Or you could use an ungraded assignment to control who sees what resource by assigning by group.

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@gnoack ...

Thanks for the additional information, and that does make sense. I was doing some additional testing of my own this morning based on @ichi80's latest reply and the setup of the folders in the "Files" section. Even in my own testing, if I right clicked on a folder name, copied the location, and then pasted it into a group discussion post, I will still able to get the link to work. However, if I modified the link by taking one character out of it...

Example:

https://SchoolName.instructure.com/courses/123456/files/folder/Course%20Materials/Topic%201

vs.

https://SchoolName.instructure.com/courses/123456/files/folder/Course20Materials/Topic%201

...this is when I was able to reproduce the error message that @ichi80 was getting ... "The specified resource does not exist." (Note that I removed the "%" character highlighted in blue.)

So, I also wonder if there was an issue with the link itself where a character in the URL might be missing? I am not sure...just a thought.

Thanks again for the additional troubleshooting you've done!

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ichi80
New Member

@Chris_Hoferand @gnoack, thank you for the responses and help! I'm able to set up the groups and upload files into the groups now, however, I noticed that students are able to delete and upload files. Is there a way to turn that option off? Or can I get notifications whenever someone uploads a file into a group? I selected "notify immediately" for files. Will this send me a notification if a file is only uploaded into the main course files section or will it send me a notification if files are uploaded into any area in the course?

Thanks for your help!

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Hi again, @ichi80 ...

I'm able to set up the groups and upload files into the groups now, however, I noticed that students are able to delete and upload files. Is there a way to turn that option off?

To my knowledge, this is not possible to turn this off. The "Files" area within a group is not the same as the "Files" area in a course. In fact, there are actually three "Files" areas... within a group, within a course, and your own personal "Files" area for your Canvas account.


Or can I get notifications whenever someone uploads a file into a group? I selected "notify immediately" for files. Will this send me a notification if a file is only uploaded into the main course files section or will it send me a notification if files are uploaded into any area in the course?

I did a bit of searching for this, and it appears that notifications for "Files" is only at the course level. Take a look at this Guide: Canvas Notifications - Instructure Community (canvaslms.com). Scroll almost half-way down this Guide, and find the table with the read heading for "Files" to read more about this particular notification and where it applies. Also, if you were to go to your "Account" >> "Notifications" screen within Canvas, you can hover your mouse over the word "Files" (under the "Course Activities" heading), and you'll see a little pop-up description that says, "New file added to your course".

Also, it should be noted that instructors and Canvas admins at your school are the only ones who are able to upload files to your course "Files" area. Students are not allowed to upload files to the course "Files". These are the written Guides for students related to "Files": Student Guide - Instructure Community (canvaslms.com). You'll note that there isn't a Guide specifically for students on how they can upload files to the course "Files". However, there is a Guide that explains how to upload files to their group and user "Files" areas.

Hopefully this additional information will be of some help to you. Let us know if you have more questions...thanks!

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