Sharing files but preventing download

I was recently asked how best to share a file with students but prevent them from downloading it to their computer/device – in this particular instance, it was sharing an assignment submission from a previous semester as an example for current students.

Moodle offers ways to share files with students but with browsers becoming more sophisticated over the years, there are always features or “add ins” which can get around the restrictions that you’d like to impose.

The best recommendation that I could give here was to use the sharing permissions in Google Drive as it’s possible to remove the “download” button from viewers.

To do this:

  1. Locate the file in Google Drive that you wish to share, right-click on it and select Share
  2. From the ‘Share with people and groups’ pop-up, click on the ‘gear’ icon (1, below):
Screenshot of the main sharing settings screen in Google Drive. The 'gear' (settings) icon is highlighted.
  1. In the ‘Share with people settings’ screen, uncheck the checkbox: Viewers and commenters can see the option to download, print and copy (2, below). Then click on the left-arrow icon (3) to return to the main sharing settings screen:
Screenshot of the 'Share with people settings' pop-up. The 'Viewers and commenters can see the option to download, print and copy' option is unchecked.
  1. Now that the settings have been configured, you can Copy link (4, below) to copy the link to your clipboard and finally click on Done (5) to confirm the changes:
Screenshot of the 'Share with people and groups' sharing settings in Google Drive. The guidance is to click on Copy link and then the Done button to confirm the change.

To make the file available to your students, you would simply share the URL in the usual way, such as using a URL resource or hyperlinked text in a Forum post in a Moodle course.

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