DocViewer: Admin and Instructor can edit/delete comments

This idea has been developed and deployed to Canvas

In the current implementation of Canvas DocViewer, Admin and Instructor roles have no authority to remove annotations. 

Please consider adding Admin and Instructor authority to remove comments and annotations from a document. 

Comments from Instructure

For more information, please read through the following release notes:

Canvas Student Release Notes (iOS 6.3) 

Canvas Production Release Notes (2018-06-02) . 

New Member

This is a really serious limitation.  I spent hours trying to delete a comment then found this thread that suggests its not possible.

Community Team
Community Team

 @herriott10ad ‌ and  @martinbrook ‌

Are you referring to the ability to delete comments that were not made by the Instructor or Admin.  Comments can be deleted, but the individual that created the comment.


New Member

The problem was that I could not delete my own comments made with the Freetext annotation tool. Logically, one would expect the annotation could be deleted using the delete key on the keyboard. After researching the documentation it appears one has to hover over the annotation and then use the backspace key to delete it.

Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

On my Mac, I am able to delete a comment by clicking on it. When I click on the comment, the trash can icon appears at the upper right, and is persistent. Hovering over the annotation is not necessary. 


In addition, since I have a Windows keyboard connected to my Macbook, I was able to test the delete/backspace features, and discovered that if I click on the actual annotation in the document (not on the comment itself), I could use Delete on my Mac and Backspace on my PC keyboard to delete the comment (I was first presented with a message asking me if I was sure about this).

This is consistent with the documentation, which states:

All users can reply to any comments in the document by clicking the comment. However, comments and annotations can only be deleted by the user who created the comment or annotation. Annotations can be deleted by the user by selecting the annotation in the submission and clicking the Delete key (Mac) or Backspace key (PC) on the user’s keyboard. Comments can be deleted by selecting the comment and clicking the comment’s Delete icon.

I would expect that an admin could readily delete a comment, if and when necessary, by masquerading as the teacher.  @herriott10ad , does your testing confirm this?

New Member

Yes, an admin can delete an annotation by masquerading as the instructor in question. It is not ideal (we have certain large courses where the number of instructors can reach a dozen or more), but it is certainly sufficient. I do think this issue is definitely reduced in priority thanks to this workaround, but I would still like to see administrative permission to delete or edit these annotations regardless.

Community Coach
Community Coach

It looks like #9 in this document (which was posted today), DocViewer Plan, may address part of your Feature Idea request,  @herriott10ad ‌.

New Member

I think it is absolutely necessary to be able to edit and/or delete comments made by someone else.  We have student assistants help with the grading, but ultimately instructors are responsible, so they need to be able to overrule the comments.  None of us has administrator rights, much less so my instructors, so the workaround does not apply in any way.  For me, this is a top priority.

Community Champion

After testing this while helping respond to a question in the Community, I heartily concur with the comments above. An instructor can delete a TA's comments in the regular commenting area in Speedgrader (lower right corner), but not the comments that a TA made in the DocViewer directly.  In fact, in testing this, I can't remove them as an admin, either.  

New Member

The Teacher role should be able to remove/edit TA annotations.  It is inefficient for Teachers to contact the TA and have the TA make necessary changes to DocViewer annotations.

New Member

This issue is creating a lot of work for me.  I am teaching a graduate level course with a TA who does not know all that much more than the students.  I need to be able to edit his comments and grading.

New Member

My situation is the same as Ms. Wilusz.  I need to be able to revise my TA's annotations.

New Member

I agree with the comments above: instructors should have the ability to edit or delete the TA's annotations.

New Member

I agree: it is a SERIOUS PROBLEM that an instructor can no longer edit or delete a TA's comments -- noting that this WAS possible for the last several years, but apparently the feature was dropped in a major software/vendor change in June 2017. I discovered this problem on Sept 10, when reviewing the first assignment handed in for my Fall 1 course. I immediately reported this problem both to Canvas and to the IT departments at my school and my University. As a teacher, it is imperative that I be able to review and edit a TA's comments, as part of teaching a TA how to provide appropriate comments and ensuring that students get accurate feedback. It is also imperative that I be able to DELETE a TA's comments. Right now the workaround for edits (or deleting) is that: (1) I must "reply" to my TA; (2) the TA must then create a new comment that integrates my comments into the TA's original comments; (3) the TA must then delete the original comment. This is incredibly inefficient. It is error-prone. And it is a waste of time. None of us have time to waste. It is essential that we be able to function appropriately and efficiently as teachers. Canvas must fix this problem ASAP -- since, again, it used to be feasible in Canvas for teachers to edit and delete TA's comments, so this is not asking for some new unheard of feature -- it is restoring critical functionality that previously existed.

New Member

PS: In my comment just submitted above, I also meant to state, explicitly, that it is important that I be able to edit the TA's comments WITHOUT the student's seeing these edits. My teaching of the TAs how to teach is a separate matter from my teaching the students the course material. When I first spoke with Canvas support staff by phone, they were unclear why I couldn't just let the students see my comments on the TA's comments -- but after I spoke with them at length, it became clear to them that: (1) instructors need to be able to correct the TA's comments without having the students see these corrections; and (2) if instructors cannot delete TA comments, it means instructors cannot vouch for or be accountable for the quality of the TA comments in our classes. Thus, it is imperative that instructors be able to edit or delete TA comments directly, with the "mute" on, so as to keep these corrections invisible to the students.

New Member

To whom did you speak?  I would like to talk with the Canvas support staff, too.  This issue needs to be fixed quickly.

New Member

To: JJ Rikeneberg

I spoke with whomever was on the 24/7 help desk on Sunday, Sept 10, between 7:30 and 8:30 am EST. The persons I spoke with, on my 2 different calls (& with whom I exchanged several emails) were:

-- Bruno C. | L1 Support

-- James Nelson | L1 Canvas Support

& a week later I had an email exchange with:

-- Steve H. | L1 Canvas Support Agent

In the meantime, staff at in my school’s IT department and in the University’s IT department have been in touch with Canvas about this as well.

best wishes –

Nancy Krieger


Nancy Krieger, PhD

Professor of Social Epidemiology

American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor

Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

677 Huntington Avenue, Kresge 717

Boston, MA 02115

office: 617-432-1571

fax: 617-432-3123


web page:

New Member

Thank you for the update, Nancy. I also notified my university’s Canvas team. Hopefully, Canvas will respond quickly to fix this issue.



JJ Riekenberg, Ph.D.

Lecturer, Department of Management

Coordinator, BA 324

McCombs School of Business

The University of Texas at Austin<>

Office: GSB 4.126J

Phone: 512-471-8051

New Member


You've summarized the issue very well. It baffles me why this capability existed previously, then disappeared with some "upgrade" over the summer.

Community Contributor

From an admin side this needs to be trackable/traceable.

Teacher or TA posts/writes - student reads - teacher deletes - student takes it to a Dean/Chair/Principal as a complaint.

Anything that is deleted should be tracked--even if only an admin can see the comment post/deletion history.

New Member

Agree with above. Susan Hicks raises a valid concern that should be implemented when Instructure commits to this.

As a UI/UX designer and Canvas consultant I would suggest the following:

- Make deletion of posts a course level option for TA's/Teachers (so it can be controlled).

- Add a view option for deleted notes in the document toolbar.

This should be a relatively easy to add functionality that has no drawbacks for existing users from what I can see.