Allow Students to Change ONLY Display Name

Resurrect this feature request, I want to vote in favor of it!

On Profile Allow Students to Change Display Name Only

"It would be great if users had the ability to edit their display names but not their "full names" or "sortable names" in Canvas. We have a lot of cases where a student may go by a nickname or other name but their legal name is something else. This would allow the user the freedom to change their name but would not create confusion for the instructor (in the Gradebook for example). Currently you can either allow users to change all their names (full, display and sortable) which would could be problematic if it is changed to something that isn't easily tied to what's on the course roster."

Community Contributor

We actually have our users to change their "preferred first name" in our SIS (peoplesoft) and then make sure that information is sent to the LMS. This way the student's name shows as Jack O'Neill  (preferred first name) instead of Jonathon O'Neill (legal first name) in all systems on our campus. 

This also helps to insure that students and teachers in classes are talking about the same person.

It should also be noted that we do not allow users to change their names in the LMS as we want the class roster in both systems (SIS and LMS) to always match.

New Member

This functionality is CRITICAL to students experiencing deep emotional pain connected with gender/identity issues.  I have greatly curtailed the use of Canvas in one of my courses in particular due to an individual greatly troubled at the thought of anyone seeing their legal name.  Names are so deeply connected with respect of one's identity.  This seems a very easy change to add a "Preferred Name" field that populates with the student name of record, but can be edited by the instructor. Then add to the settings the ability to display the names of record or the preferred name column in the class and in people. I know we are talking software, but in this case, it gets very personal and hurtful for some students. 

Community Champion

Perhaps contact your Registrar and see if they will support creation of a process for students to enter a 'preferred name' into the system?  That way all fronts are addressed.  For example, the name is updated in Canvas as well as on all paperwork that faculty may receive such as a roster or more.  That was our approach.  

New Member

Since I was a baby my mother and anyone else in my life, has referred to me by my middle name. It's weird and confusing for me to comment in online discussions. "Elizabeth Beal" commented on this discussion. People in class are left wondering, who's Elizabeth? It's frustrating and very annoying. It's hard for ideas to gain traction on platforms such as these. Canvas needs to make this change. It makes no sense that a display name doesn't have the option to edit. 


New Member

I'm still very frustrated that I am not able to update my own name in the system at least one time.  Class after class I am subjected to systemic discrimination because of my gender identity.  I have to announce to everyone what I would like to be addressed as, and then I have to endure the same pattern of students skipping over my discussion threads entirely, or replying with the basic generic messages, while giving all the other students plenty of well thought out replies, even days after my initial post.  It's so frustrating because it basically turns me into a conspiracy theorist, wondering who is intentionally ignoring me, and who just hasn't read my thread yet.

In the past when I was using an old photo, and didn't ask for people to use my chosen name, I didn't experience these issues.

But  I guess I'll just have to keep pushing on the best I can.


Community Team
Community Team

The Radar idea stage has been removed from the Feature Idea Process.  You can read more about why in the blog post Adaptation: Feature Idea Process Changes.


This change will only impact the stage sort of this idea and will not change how it is voted on or how it is considered during prioritization activities.  This change will streamline the list of ideas 'open for voting', making it easier for you to see the true top voted ideas in one sort, here.

Community Contributor

Many of the school districts in the State of Wyoming and most of the community colleges in the state, along with the University of Wyoming, are part of a consortium working on estalbishing enough integration that a public school student taking college classes from one or more of our institutions would see a dashboard featuring all of their Canvas courses. Related to this, although the colleges might be in favor of turning on the name change capability for their students, the public schools cannot. So, until there is the granular setting that this idea presents, we are all held to an agreement to keep the changing capability off. We are working with our service reps to push this idea harder. Please join us in that effort with your up-vote. Thanks.

New Member

This would be extremely beneficial as many students change their name and I can't find them when the email me.  It makes it difficult to answer their questions.

New Member

Hello, we would like to see a feature enhancement for updating an individual's display name. It would be great if, as account admins, we could authorize some user populations the ability to update their display. As an admin at a large K-12 school district, I don't have the bandwidth to update user accounts on demand.

As an example, we would want to authorize teachers and admins to update their display names, but not all students. The ability to offer this level of control to a subset of user populations exists in Google Classroom, and it would be great to see parity.

Community Participant

We were able to allow our students to change their Display Name without allowing them to change their full name or sortable name by adding the following two lines to the universal javascript code in the theme editor:

document.getElementById('user_sortable_name').readOnly = true;
document.getElementById('user_name').readOnly = true;


These two lines gray out the full name and sortable name options.  To enable them to edit the Display Name field, you still have to set the option to allow students to edit their names in the Admin Settings.

New Member

I wanted to share and interim solution that a colleague of mine has shared: See: for interim coding solution to only allow editing of Display name.

Community Member

We would like to see this feature added as well, with the ability to toggle it on and off based on user type and subaccount.  This would be greatly beneficial for students who don't go by their given name, have a different gender identity, etc.  We don't want to change it in the SIS because of official records, but would love to see a Preferred First Name field in Canvas.

New Member

We need the option to allow students and faculty to change their Display Name without enabling the option to change their Full Name.

New Member

Hello!  If I am missing a setting related to my request, I always appreciate guidance because there is quite a lot of requests to read through to find the best match to learn from.

Based on what I see and what my team has tested on enabling Name Change in Canvas, I would like either some more granular options or a change to the existing root account settings.

Can we allow users to only be able to change their Display Name in Canvas?  At present, in the account settings, I can only see, "Users can edit their name."  This enables not only Display Name changes but a change to their Full Name as well.  

This is posing an issue for multiple parties at our institution.

  • For Faculty and Staff:  When students change their Full Name in Canvas, faculty and staff cannot verify student identity which requires extensive research across our SIS and Canvas, some of which do not contain information that makes it easy to cross-reference student identity without many steps.
  • IT:  Canvas does not pull in all possible identifiers of student identity from our SIS such as our institution IDs.  We are testing adding another ID to course Canvas rosters so faculty can use their Banner SIS roster against their Canvas roster but having the Full Name (legal) to use with that ID, would be extra security for faculty while having a Display Name to be respectful of students.
  • Students are likely not realizing they can change only the Display name so they are inadvertently changing their Full Name which was brought in by the SIS when syncing.  This act changes the Display Name as well.  But students don't realize that changing the Display Name only keeps the Full Name intact while giving them comfort of having a preferred name visible in course activity.  It would be helpful to disable access to change the legal Full Name section and only allow the Display Name to be changed so students and their instructors can be secure knowing students will be properly identified and receive the correct grades and communication.

It is very important that our institution can respect student identify and use preferred names, however, until legal name changes have taken place for students that come from our SIS, we still need an efficient way to clearly verify student identity without extensive SIS corroboration.

If there is another thread for this, my apologies but thank you in advance for reviewing this concern so we can balance the multiple needs at our institution.  Thanks and take care, all!

Community Coach
Community Coach

Hi @GiovannaMacry,

I don't think you're missing anything built-in to the UI, though I do agree having a separate checkbox to allow users to change their display name apart from their full and sortable name would be ideal.  If you really don't want to sync from your SIS to Canvas, you could enable the name change option, and then use custom javascript as part of your theme to disable the user and sortable name boxes, so students wouldn't be able to edit those.  I will note that this only works for web Canvas, so if the app allows name editing, that would be something different entirely.

The javascript to disable those elements would be:


 You will usually want to wrap this code around and some sort of if statement checking the page you're on, and only checking after the document is ready.  Some examples can be found on my github.  Hopefully you have someone who is somewhat familiar with javascript to help with this.



Community Team
Community Team
Status changed to: Archived

Thank you for sharing this idea with the Instructure Community!

The Product Team reviewed all feature proposals recently, and unfortunately, this thread was identified as one that they would not be able to include in their current or future plans. While we appreciate your proposal, we also want to be transparent about the likelihood of something like this making it to production.

Thank you for collaborating, and we hope that you submit another idea in the future!