How do I use Files as a student?

Canvas recently introduced a new page design called the New Canvas User Interface (UI). Depending on your Canvas view, your page design may vary from the images shown in this lesson. However, the functionality and location of the components remain the same.

As a student, Files allows you to store files and assignments within Canvas. You can upload one or multiple files, view all details about your files, and preview files. Files is built with responsive design to adjust for browser scaling. The folder navigation window, file displays, and even file names adjust to the width of the browser window.

You have access to files (documents, images, media, etc.) in three different places:

  • User files, located in your user account
  • Course files, located in each course where you are enrolled (if your instructor allows you to view Course Files)
  • Group files, located in each group where you are a member


The basic functionality within Files is the same within each files location, but some features may differ according to location.

View User Files

User files are where you can upload your own files for use throughout your Canvas account. You can upload and store files for assignments, profile pictures, and conversations attachments. Any attachments added as part of a graded assignment submission are uploaded into your user files but are not counted against your user quota. However, once the file has been uploaded as a submission, you cannot delete the file.

View a video about user files.

View Course Files

Course Files are all the files available in a course. Instructors have the option to hide the Files link from students, so Course Files may not be available to all users.

If you can view Course Files, you can preview and download all published files in Course Files.

View Course Files in Personal Files

If your instructors allow you to view the Files link in Course Navigation, course files will also appear in your personal files folder.

View Group Files

Group Files are where you can upload and store files for group projects or assignments. As groups are essentially mini courses, all group members have the same permissions to moderate files, including uploading files, publishing files, restricting access and unpublishing files, and deleting files.

The left panel [1] shows all folders for quick navigation. Some folders may be housed within other folders. Click the arrows next to the folder name to expand all folders.

Click the name of a folder. All contents within the folder you are viewing display in the right panel [2]. You can also click folder names in the right panel to view folder content.

For each file, you can view the name of the file [1], the date the file was created [2], the date the file was modified [3] the name of the person who modified the file (if modified by another user) [4], the size of the file [5], the user right (copyright) for the file [6], and the published status [7].

Files are sorted alphabetically. To sort files, click the name of any column heading.

Manage Files

Depending on the file area, files may contain several options to manage files:

Search for files [1]. Files is fully searchable by file name.

Add a folder [2]. Add a new folder to Files to store files. Folders can also house other folders.

Upload a file [3]. Upload a file to Files.

Set the user right (copyright) for a file [4]. You must set a user right for a file before it can be published. Files that do not contain a usage right display as a warning icon.

Change the state of the file [5]. Files can be published, unpublished, or include a restricted status.

Manage Selected Files

Manage Selected Files

To select a file, click the name of the file. You can also select multiple files at the same time by holding the command (MAC) or control (PC) key.

When a file is selected, Files displays the file toolbar at the top of the window. Depending on the files area, the toolbar may contain several options to manage the selected file(s):

  • View the file [1]
  • Restrict access to the file [2]
  • Download the file [3] (when selecting more than one file, option appears to download as a zip file)
  • Move the file [4]
  • Manage User Rights for the file [5] (groups only)
  • Delete the file [6]


You can also manage some or all options for a selected file within the file's Settings menu [7].