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File Cleanup Tool

Chart from the file cleanup tool showing proportion of used and unused files. Introduction

Many courses have extra files that are no longer used in the course. If you would like to identify and clean out those files you can do so using the File Cleanup Tool in Canvas. The File Cleanup Tool helps you quickly identify and delete old, irrelevant files in your course to make the files section of your course easier to manage and more usable and accessible.

If you need help using the tool or getting it setup contact CIDI for help.

Adding the File Cleanup Tool to Your Course

The File Cleanup tool can be added to any course. You can install it to the course and then clicking on Settings and then click the Navigation tab at the top. Find the File Cleanup Tool from th e list of hidden items and drag it up into your navigation. Click "Save" and it will show up in your navigation (hidden from students).

Using the File Cleanup Tool

There are three main sections within the tool:
Files NOT in Use, Files in Use and Empty Folders tabs

  • Files Not in Use This is the default tab that lists all of the files in your course that you do not link to in any of your content that you can view and delete.
  • Files in Use If you are interested in seeing all of your files that are in use and where they are used you can do so here.
  • Empty Folders After you have deleted files that were not in use you may be left with empty folders. This section will help you identify and delete those foldes.

General Tips

  • You can click on the name of any file or folder to preview the contents.
  • Use the search dialog to find a specific file or folder.
  • The file list is updated once a day - the date of the latest update is in the upper righthand corner. 

Deleting Unused Files

This is the most commonly used feature where you can view a list of all of your files that are no longer in use. A file is considered not in use if there is no link to that file from Canvas Course Pages, Announcements, Assignments, Discussions, Modules or Quizzes. You can select individuals files to delete them one at a time or check the box that says, "Select all visible files" to select all files shown on the screen. Then click the "Delete Selected Files" to delete all of those files from your course. 

If you want to delete all files of a certain type, you could do a search for that file type (e.g. gif) and then select all visible files and click the delete button to delete all files shown from the search. If you accidentally delete a file contact CIDI right away to recover it. 

Viewing Files that are in Use

Sometimes you may want view the files that are in use in your course and look at where they are used. The "Files in Use" tab shows you a list of all of the files that are currently in use. Click on the "Yes" link to go to the page where that file is used. If you are no longer using that content delete the Canvas page where it is used and it will show up on the "Files NOT in Use" tab when the data is updated. 

Deleting Empty Folders

After you have deleted folders you may have some empty folders. This section of the tool will help you identify and delete those empty folders. 

Considerations When Using the Tool

The File Cleanup Tool currently checks for links to your files from Course Pages, Announcements, Assignments, Discussions, Modules and Quizzes. However, it does not check for links from your Syllabus, Outcomes, Rubrics, Conferences, Calendar, or Quiz Question Answer Submissions. If you use any of those you may need to review those files outside of the tool.

In addition, the tool only checks for files that you link to directly from Canvas content. If you have a document that links to another document then you will need to review those outside of the tool as well. Remember, we can help you recover any files that are accidentally deleted!

Helps with Accessibility

Cleaning up unused files can be good for your peace of mind and helpful to the Disabiltiy Resource when there is a student in your course who needs accommodations. When you get rid of irrelevant files then they can focus their accessibility efforts on fixing files that are actually being used.


Please contact the Center for Innovative Design and Instruction with any questions or for help walking you through the process.