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Denied Access to Commons

When I try to log into Commons I receive a message that says, "Oops, your session has expired due to inactivity."  I clicked to refresh and log in but it gives me the same message.

25 Replies

I finally received a message from someone in Canvas who seemed as if he

knew what the issue was. I was told about 3 days ago that there is a

problem with 'tokens' and they are trying to resolve the issue. Apparently,

this issue is affecting a lot of Canvas users.

On Tue, Jun 30, 2020 at 10:02 AM <

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*Here is the message I was sent on June 26. I haven't heard from Canvas


Hi Deloris, Yes, it should let you into commons even with a free account.

We have all paid accounts so this seems to be an issue across both paid and

free accounts. What I've been able to determine on our end is that the user

token that automatically gets generated to provide the user access to

Commons is not being stored. So they keep getting the "Authorize" button

every time they try to access, but then it never stores their access token

so they actually can access Commons.

I'll work with our CSM to see if we can figure this out and I'll let you

know what I find out.

On Tue, Jun 30, 2020 at 10:02 AM <

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Thanks Deloris, please keep me posted if you hear back from them. I am eager to access the Commons courses for resources for the fall!

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I am having the same problem.  I can't get into Commons.  I did for about two days and then, it won't let me back in. Can anyone help.   I placed a tech request ticket 4 days ago and I've heard nothing.  

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Good luck. I requested help back in June.

On Tue, Jul 21, 2020 at 6:12 PM <

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Did you actually report a problem to Canvas support? Have you clicked on Help and then Report a Problem?

This community is filled with volunteers, like, who use Canvas but don't work for Instructure and cannot speak for Instructure or Canvas. There are a few Instructure employees here in the community, but asking about something here is not the same as reporting it to tech support so they are aware of the situation. Telling your principle about the problem doesn't mean that it got passed on to Canvas, either.

When certain people have issues and others don't, the troubleshooting process involves looking for the common thread among people having the issue. This is what Canvas support does. When you report a problem, it lets them know that you're using (for example) Chrome 75 on Windows. If all of the people reporting the problem seem to be using Chrome or outdated versions of Chrome (75 is no longer supported), then it helps them get a clearer picture of what's going on. Here in the Community, you just said it doesn't work, but didn't supply any of the information like browser, operating system, etc., that would help narrow down the issue. That leaves us to offer suggestions that may or may not help when it's really Canvas Support that needs to know about the issue. Even if Mike has seen it several places (and not just one user), Mike may not have the time or ability to track it down. Even then, Mike works for one institution. Canvas Support can see the bigger picture and more data makes it easier to figure out what's going on.

The inability to set tokens could be an issue on Canvas side. It might be related to having multiple accounts and getting confused. It might be a free for teachers (FFT) issue that doesn't affect the paid users. Those are all things that Canvas would have to fix.

On the other hand, it could be a browser issue and that's something that you can check. There are some known (at least in the Community) issues right now (viewing PDFs in Chrome with certain extensions loaded and seeing images with Safari) that are browser specific. Safari has had a lot of problems with people who haven't updated their operating system.

Have you tried using a different browser? If you're using Chrome and it doesn't work, try Firefox. If you're on a Mac using Safari, then make sure your operating system is updated. 

Have you tried clearing your browser's cookies? In Chrome and Firefox, this is Shift+Ctrl+Del and then remove the cookies. That clears out all of your cookies and you will have to log back into some sites, include Canvas.

Some browsers are set to block third-party cookies. I value privacy and don't like people tracking me so I normally block as much as I can that is not related to the site and I run adblockers to prevent additional tracking or malware from entering my system. I had a lot of issues with students using the Google integration until I went through and unblocked certain cookies that it was unable to set. Now the Google documents that my students embed work. Again, I'm not saying that is the cause here, but it might be.

One thing you can try to get around the cookie and extension issues are to open an incognito window in Chrome (Shift+Ctrl+N) or a private window in Firefox (Shift+Ctrl+P). Then log into Canvas and see if the problem still exists.

You can check for blocked cookies in Chrome and Firefox by looking near the location bar with the URL. In Chrome, there is a crossed-out eye at the end when third-party cookies are blocked. When you click on it, you get something like this image.


When I follow through to learn more, I see that the blocked cookies on this particular site (not Canvas) are from Twitter. I do want to block Twitter cookies, so I leave them blocked. However, if they were from something that looked related to Canvas, I would turn them on.

As a final note, one issue with providing help through electronic communications is that troubleshooting gets technical in nature. A trained person can often spot things and resolve an issue quickly. Some people may not feel comfortable or get frustrated with the hours or days it may take to troubleshoot online. It may be completely beyond some people to fix the problem and they need to call in someone else to look at it.

Here's an analogy. I can see the symptoms and know that my air conditioning isn't working in my truck [cannot log into Commons]. I can put R134a refrigerant in it [try a different browser] but that doesn't fix the problem [still cannot log into Commons]. I can even add R134a refrigerant with special chemicals that are supposed to seal a leak [check the cookies on my browser] but that didn't fix it either. I can even Google the issue and watch videos on YouTube about how to fix the air conditioning on the truck. That's when it really hit that I am beyond my ability and it's a bigger issue than I can solve by myself (I might be able to, but I have better things to do and I don't have the right tools to do it). I have to make a choice. I can keep adding refrigerant every time I want to drive the truck (not environmentally friendly or sustainable and just not the right thing to do), decide I just won't use the air conditioning on the truck [don't use Commons], or call in someone else to take a look at the issue. This might be a mechanically inclined friend [local tech support] or it might be taking it to the mechanic [Canvas support].

Making a post here in the Community is like announcing on Facebook that I'm having trouble with the air conditioning in the truck. I will get lots of empathy and advice from people. Some will even say they knew someone who had the same problem (perhaps even with the same model truck) or that they know someone who has an uncle who is a mechanic and will ask them (but then never get back to me). Until someone knowledgeable comes and looks at the truck or I take it to my mechanic, the truck still won't have any air conditioning.

Sometimes the issue takes a while to diagnose and resolve and you might need to involve someone else than who you originally went to. I did take my truck to my mechanic and he couldn't find any obvious leaks even after putting the dye in. Perhaps I need to go to a specialist with a leak detector rather than just a dye detector?


I did fill out a help ticket several weeks ago, and never heard from Canvas support about the issue. My log in issue was across all devices, and was not a blocking problem. I ended up creating a second account with a different email, and Commons worked on the second account. Once I added this second account as a teacher in all of my classes, I added my school email to my second account, and basically ignore my original account. Obviously this is not an ideal solution, but it worked for me. 



My apologies, I've been away and hadn't been able to reply to this post since my last post. As‌ pointed out, I do not work for Instructure. I'm terribly sorry if there was a misunderstanding on that point when I referred to one of "our" users, I was referring to a user in my instance of Canvas, where I serve as a Canvas admin and support professional. We run our own support desk for our Canvas instance. So sorry for any confusion my response may have caused. I do not work for Instructure's Support desk. 

I did follow up with our organization's CSM and also reported this to Instructure's Support desk as well, and the response I got back was not quite what I was hoping for. Instructure did note that it was a known issue and there is no resolution or timeline to the resolution at this point. They did verify that is has been reported by multiple users across multiple instances through the correct channels, but they do not have a solution as yet.

As James mentioned, your best bet for getting help on these types of issues is to go directly to the Canvas support desk for assistance. 

This Canvas community site is amazing at supporting other community members through shared problem-solving and troubleshooting, and is one of the best out there at finding ingenious and creative solutions to common challenges in this community. Sometimes the community does find solutions quickly and can share their experiences to other community members in threads like this, often in regards to processes or solutions for gaps or shortcomings in the system, rather than bugs or issues as this particular issue seems to be. With system bugs/issues like this one, that's when really only the Instructure's dedicated team of support staff and engineers can develop a solution.

I'm afraid at times these community threads can be challenging as they may present hope for finding a solution, but we're all really just in the same boat together. 

The most reliable method for obtaining help is reporting it to Instructure's help desk by calling their support line. They have a group of dedicated professionals whose primary job is to resolve these types of problems or at least collect and compile common issue reports so a solution can be developed at a later time. 

I apologize for any frustration or challenges my absence from this community and thread may have caused. As James noted, we are all volunteers here just trying to help each other out as best we can, but we all have other roles, responsibilities, priorities, vacations, and illnesses that can cause us to be absent from the community at times. So while we all do our best, we can't provide the singular level of dedicated service and support that Instructure's Support Desk can.

Hopefully, Canvas's team can develop a resolution for this issue as they do have the bigger picture from across all Canvas instances. 

I hope this explanation helps a bit. We're all in this together!


After reading all the guides and asking community support but receiving no

answer, I emailed Canvas about the issue. I was then directed to read the

guides and reach out the community support which I had already done. I did

this twice and received the same response. When I did not get help with

the issue, I then turned to my principal so that the school could reach

out. At no time was I asked for any information about my operating system

from Canvas support to determine what was happening. If I had been

provided with a list of questions to respond to I would have.

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When you go to Help > Report a Problem, they automatically get your operating system and browser. This is not true when you email them.

According to Mike's post from this morning, it looks like they may be aware of the issue and not needed additional information.

I don't use Canvas Free for Teachers, but I sometimes wonder if the support level is related to how much you're paying. We pay Instructure to host and for support and I never get told to go look at the guides, but I often get a "this is the expected behavior" statement back from them. I also get a lot of (paraphrased) "what are you talking about?" things, even after I've gone into great detail in the support ticket. When things have been addressed (fixed), it is often months before that happens. Unless it's a critical issue affecting a lot of people (like not being able to login or quizzes not working), fixes may take a while.

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