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Community Member

Skip Canvas preview

When I press a link to a document in a course, I'm taken to a preview window. If I want to see the document in the native application (e.g. PowerPoint), I have to press an extra link to do so. Actually, I never want to see the preview but just go straight into the native application. Is there a way I can set it up in this way?

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Explorer III

Hello Peter,

Are you asking about setting up the link as an instructor so that no one sees the preview, or are you asking for yourself as a single user how to skip the preview for any file links?

If you're asking as instructor setting up content, you can disable previews for file links from a page or module using these steps: 

On the other hand, if you're a student and just want to bypass the preview for any file links you come across, the simplest way to do this is to right-click on the file link in your web browser and select "Download linked file as...", "Save link as...", or whatever similar option your browser offers (it varies depending on which browser you are using).



Hello Michael. Thanks for the response. I'm a teacher but I'm asking as any user, basically. I can indeed right click and get the option to download the file but I don't want to download it and then open it (that would be even more complicated), I just want to open it directly without having to go through the Canvas preview screen and then pressing 'Download'. Basically, I want the preview functionality to go away 🙂

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Hi Peter,

I had a bit of a tinker with this and I have been unable to come up with a solution, I thought there might be some HTML code that worked, but alas, was unable to get it going.

You could probably get around this for PDFs within your browser (such as Chrome as an example) by turning off the inbuilt PDF viewer, however, not sure how you might achieve this for other file types.

If there is enough interest, you may want to put in a feature idea, but, I think it might need a fair bit of championing and to see if others might find this useful.

Sorry I can't be of more help!



Hi Stuart,

Thanks for looking into it.

If it's not possible to achieve this functionality, I would suggest removing the preview functionality altogether. Canvas is an LMS system, not a 'preview system', and there are dedicated preview applications out there specializing in that functionality. So Canvas can assume that users have some sort of previewer (or native program) installed of their own choosing rather than integrate a previewer in Canvas.

I primarily argue on the basis of usability and convenience. But just now I also had a perhaps even more significant case based on functionality: A student uploaded a mandatory assignment to a folder on Canvas. Subsequently, she tested the upload and apparently, if the document is printed from the Canvas viewer, the figures in the document are not included. If the document is printed from the native app (Adobe), the figures are included. This could be a potentially serious issue as many Canvas users in universities are relatively 'casual' users.

Greetings, Peter


YES! Remove the previewing on all links in a module.... Half the time it doesn't work, meaning 2 clicks when it should take 1. Plus students are shown an error screen every time it doesn't work, which makes us teachers look bad.

Super disappointing - changing to Blackboard if this persists. 

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