[External Tools] Automatically open new tab for links/external tools set to 'Load in a new tab'

Previously under the title "Link to External URL"


When linking to an external url that Canvas will not (or cannot) embed, link should automatically open in a new tab or window.  Currently, Canvas opens another page saying you have to open it in a new tab, then you have to click that link to do that.  Why not just go directly to that page in a new tab?  Links in other locations already do this.

If Canvas is worried a user would be confused by being outside of Canvas suddenly, perhaps they could flash a redirect page saying they are leaving the course and to close this tab to return, or something along those lines.  


Comments from Instructure

New behavior governing external tool links was released to production in November 2019. For more information, please read through the Canvas Deploy Notes (2019-11-20)

Community Champion

No, that's not at all what I'm saying. I think that's the exact opposite of what I was saying.

Community Champion

I must be mis-remembering what I wrote back in September. I thought I wrote that from a user's perspective (not the programmers), it would be bad to automatically open links. However, without thinking too deeply about it, if you could discern between a user who clicked on a link and a user who got there by clicking the next or previous buttons, then it might be more palatable.  External links that open in new tabs are marked as such and have accessibility tags added to warn the user that it's about to go to another place and leave Canvas. That's already there in the module system, so the user knows it's an external link (at least in a browser, not sure about the mobile app), so in my limited framework (sighted user on a desktop with a browser), it seems stupid to require an extra click. But I don't know what other design considerations Canvas has gone through. While it is technically possible to do what you're asking about, there are probably things we haven't considered that are keeping them from doing it.

The notice to open in another window would still be necessary for people using the module navigation (next and previous) to get there.

Community Contributor

I'm surprised I didn't find this idea sooner, but here it is!

I prepared a screen shot graphic to illustrate an idea post I was going to put up here on CC, so here it is.

For those of us (K-12 school districts) who try to leverage digital instructional content into ad hoc LORs, this link should work just like hard coded target="_blank". The student clicks on the link (or navigates to the link in module-sequence), and the referenced page should open automatically.

275957_Canvas Idea Open Sep Tab One Click.jpg

Thanks for posting this operating improvement suggestion, and encourage your posse here on CC to VOTE IT UP!

Community Champion

Was just thinking about this again tonight as I made links to external sites. Hugely disappointing that it has attracted so little attention.

Surely its not a huge fix? Its not as if it requires a massive change of approach as the check box says Load in a new Tab

Thanks for the great image...


I second and third this motion. Since this is an LTi, I wonder if we are barking up the wrong tree. Who developed the Redirect Tool? Can they make the change so that it works the way it is described? 

Community Champion

Yes, exactly. I remember the first time I selected the "open in a new tab" option and then I was confused when it had me click on the link to open it up.

Community Participant

Canvas should definitely kick the intermediate page with a pop-up button for external Urls. That’s sooooo early 2000! All other links on pages can just invoke a pop-up right away, like a good old target=_blank link.

#lessclick #moreslick

Community Participant

I agree that this is important and would be a significant improvement to the user experience. However, there is an important consideration here about whether implementing such a change would result in more users having pop-ups blocked. 

I'm not sure the title represents the idea particularly well. I would recommend changing the title to something like "Automatically open new tab for links/external tools set to 'Load in a new tab'".

Coach Emeritus

Until a change occurs, or if it is impossible, this could help. https://community.canvaslms.com/groups/k12/blog/2018/02/25/ctrl-k-you-rock  

Community Member

This should be a high-priority item. It's a usability disgrace, and reduces student engagement. This simple change would increase student engagement in moving through linked content.