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StephenKafka
New Member

Setting a file's permission to "Only available to students with link" does not always hide the file

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My understanding of "Only available to students with link" was not correct. After reading the relevant documentation I now understand that a file, which has "Only available to students with link" attribute set, was actually visible to all students becuase it was posted in a module.

The default restriction option is to make the file only available to students with the link. The Only available to students with link option makes the file available to students who are given a link to the file. The file will be hidden to students in Course Files.

Note: This hidden option only applies to Course Files; if you add this file to another area of Canvas, such as Assignments or Modules, all students can view the file.

I posted the file in a module thinking it was hidden unless I provided the link. The permissions for the file in the module page are

  • Publish
  • Unpublish
  • Only Available to students with link
  • Schedule student availabilty

And when viewing the module, all I could see on the module page was Only Available to students with link.

But, of course, my understanding was incorrect and in fact all students could see the file

IMO, this is a Canvas UI issue. In the context of a module Canvas should not display Only Available to students with link when in fact the file is available to EVERYONE.

The display of module page gives me the false belief that the file is not available becuase that is what I see on the module page. But, again, that is not the case. 

 

 

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2 Solutions
Chris_Hofer
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hello there, @StephenKafka ...

I can understand why this might be slightly confusing.  Once you change the permission of a file in your course "Files" to "Only available to students with link" and then add it as a module item, you will see a red crossed-out eye icon.  Hovering over that will give you the same "Only available to students with link" message.  To me, this is an indicator that I have changed the permission in course "Files" and that it is not visible to students in course "Files".  Since I've added the file to "Modules", I want them to be able to download it...but I don't want them to access the file via the "Files" area.  That does seem a bit confusing, but I'd like to offer another suggestion...

I know that many people choose to hide the "Files" area of their course completely from students.  They do this because they can then link to their files either on the "Modules" page or directly in course content...without allowing them access to the "Files" area of your course.  So, for example...on a content page, I may have a few paragraphs for students to read.  In one of those paragraphs, I linked to a PDF file.  So, if I kept my "Files" area visible to students, I could still choose to hide that file in "Files" but yet link to it within the paragraph on my content page.  On the other hand, if I hid my "Files" area, I could still link to that PDF file on my content page, and there wouldn't really be a need to also set any additional permissions on the file itself since "Files" is hidden.

If you would like to see this wording changed at all, you might want to consider submitting a Feature Idea here in the Community.  Here are some documents that will help:

Not sure if any of this is helpful at all, but thought I'd share my $0.02.  Let Community members know if you have any other questions about this...thanks!

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Ron_Bowman
Community Champion

@StephenKafka -

Yes that can be confusing and you did a good job of describing what you were doing.  

Based on what you posted you just posted the file in the module with the restriction that only students with the link could access the file.  Well by posting the file in the module, that link to the file is now available to all students, Canvas is doing exactly that.  Unfortunately, what you need for that case is a way to restrict which students can see the actual file link (there is no way to restrict module access, and no way to restrict a page access to a subset of students).  

If you only want a few students to see the link, then it has to be put in an assignment that is restricted to those students in the assign to area. And then post the assignment in the module.  Only those students assigned the assignment will see the assignment and they will have access to the link.

 

 

View solution in original post

5 Replies
Chris_Hofer
Community Coach
Community Coach

Hello there, @StephenKafka ...

I can understand why this might be slightly confusing.  Once you change the permission of a file in your course "Files" to "Only available to students with link" and then add it as a module item, you will see a red crossed-out eye icon.  Hovering over that will give you the same "Only available to students with link" message.  To me, this is an indicator that I have changed the permission in course "Files" and that it is not visible to students in course "Files".  Since I've added the file to "Modules", I want them to be able to download it...but I don't want them to access the file via the "Files" area.  That does seem a bit confusing, but I'd like to offer another suggestion...

I know that many people choose to hide the "Files" area of their course completely from students.  They do this because they can then link to their files either on the "Modules" page or directly in course content...without allowing them access to the "Files" area of your course.  So, for example...on a content page, I may have a few paragraphs for students to read.  In one of those paragraphs, I linked to a PDF file.  So, if I kept my "Files" area visible to students, I could still choose to hide that file in "Files" but yet link to it within the paragraph on my content page.  On the other hand, if I hid my "Files" area, I could still link to that PDF file on my content page, and there wouldn't really be a need to also set any additional permissions on the file itself since "Files" is hidden.

If you would like to see this wording changed at all, you might want to consider submitting a Feature Idea here in the Community.  Here are some documents that will help:

Not sure if any of this is helpful at all, but thought I'd share my $0.02.  Let Community members know if you have any other questions about this...thanks!

Ron_Bowman
Community Champion

@StephenKafka -

Yes that can be confusing and you did a good job of describing what you were doing.  

Based on what you posted you just posted the file in the module with the restriction that only students with the link could access the file.  Well by posting the file in the module, that link to the file is now available to all students, Canvas is doing exactly that.  Unfortunately, what you need for that case is a way to restrict which students can see the actual file link (there is no way to restrict module access, and no way to restrict a page access to a subset of students).  

If you only want a few students to see the link, then it has to be put in an assignment that is restricted to those students in the assign to area. And then post the assignment in the module.  Only those students assigned the assignment will see the assignment and they will have access to the link.

 

 

choppingm
Community Participant
I've just noticed that all files inside folders with the permission set to shared via "Only Available to students with link" inherit this property. Upshot: I can't share the link to the folder and its contents, I can only share the links to the files. More work for me: copying and pasting all the links, when I thought I would only have to post the link to the folder 😞

@choppingm -

You are correct on your assessment of hidden files and folders.  I was not sure how you tried to create a link to the folder, so I used an external link with the folder URL for the course, and you are correct that you cannot see the files - it is only individual file links.

Of course, for it even to be possible to see the folder contents, my guess is that the files area would have to be visible to the student as well

Good luck with all of your links. 

choppingm
Community Participant
Hi bowmanr, Thanks!