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New files publishing automatically

When I upload a new file to my modules, there is no option to make it published or unpublished, so as soon as I add the item, it publishes it immediately.  If don't want it published yet (which is often the case), I have to then set it to unpublish, but by then, students have already gotten emails that the file was made available.  Is there anyway to upload a file in my modules and NOT have it published automatically by default? We get this option when creating Assignments and whatnot, it seems like files should also have that option.  Thanks!

8 Replies
Community Coach
Community Coach, the only thing I can think of is if the Module is unpublished then I'm not sure if students would get a notification if you added a file. What I normally do is add the file in the Files area of Canvas and mark it as unpublished. Then when I add it to the Module it automatically shows up as unpublished instead of published.

I have just been working with one of our faculty who uploaded exam question (into files), on a pdf file, and imediately secured it to "only available to students with a link." He was going to link it within the exam, but by the time he restricted it to the "link only" setting they all had the link because they all got notified when he uploaded it. He had to add a time/date limit onto that security setting before he successfully kept them out, which he did not discover until a student contacted him and they tested it.

So, upon hearing from him, I did some testing as well: linking the file within the first question of an exam, locking the exam until a later date, and unpublishing the exam--in all cases, that file was ready and available to students, no problem. Even if "files" was hidden, the link still worked. Now, as Kona points out above, if "files" was hidden from student view, the file was uploaded into an unpublished quiz or module, it would've likely been inaccessible (since there isn't a link involved), but this seems problematic. Everything else in the course requires publishing. Why not files?


I hope there is an option in the setting to default unpublished when any file uploaded from link. 


I can't figure this out either - there appears to be no way to change this setting and the default is published which makes no sense. Anyone else get more information?


It is sad that this bug has been reported in 2017 but not yet fixed.

Surveyor II

It is sad. There are similar posts dating from 2016. 

It is remarkable that the only Canvas "solutions" to the problem of keeping specific files like exams hidden seem to be either "hide the entire Files tab, and thereby make all files invisible to students" or "upload the file and then quickly unpublish it before the students download it".

Surveyor II

Agreed, I think we should request others comment on this topic,  I've had pretty irate faculty over this semester who can't get files to hide fast enough. and that concerns our whole school.  I wonder if Schoology has this setting - (yes they do)

Lamplighter II

Individual folders can be unpublished.  Upload the file to an unpublished folder first.  For example, create a folder titled "Unpublished Uploads".  Once the file is uploaded you can unpublish it and move it.

Also, consider if you need to have the Files available to students in the Course Navigation.  I do not have this enabled as I link all files on pages or in the modules. That may not be an option for all, but it might help some. 

I would not want to have the default be that files are unpublished on upload.  I think too many faculty (and myself) would forget about this extra step and then the files would not be available to students when they try to access them.  It would be one extra step for me for all the files I upload. One more thing for me to check when creating and publishing a course. 

A better solution would be to get rid of this notification. I don't see much reason for it. If I want to notify students of a new file, I would send them an email or create an announcement, I can't rely on or trust the Canvas Notifications as individual users can turn these off.