Can I restrict download access to the preview when sharing?

By september 30, 2019Sharing

Short answer: Yes, when sharing a file you can untick the “Download preview” option to control who can download the previews. If no download options have been ticked, we won’t show a download button on the share page. The receivers will be able to watch the media files online.

Please note: this only applies to the preview files. For more information about restricting download access to your source files, please see this support article.

Long answer: you can hide the download options, but there’s no guarantee someone won’t find a way to store a copy. For someone to be able to view a given file, his/her computer or mobile phone will need to download it first. This download usually happens in the background but tech-savvy people will find ways to store this file. Even video streams can be captured and stored without explicit permissions (like a screen recording or screen capture). And we have seen people simply take a picture of their computer screen with their mobile phone.

So while we will make it more difficult for a receiver to download the previews, unfortunately there are always ways someone can store a copy of what they’re seeing. There is no way to circumvent this, so it’s also one of the reasons we tell people to be cautious when sending sensitive information over the internet. If the content is so sensitive this becomes an issue, consider whether uploading this file to the internet is a good choice.

What can I do to prevent unwanted downloads?

  • Send out personal links. If it ever leaks, you will know who leaked it.
    You can always get in touch with our support team to help investigate a certain share link that may have been leaked on an internet site.
  • Use personal accounts whenever possible.
    Sharing files with someone on a regular basis? Consider creating a MediaLab account for them. They will be required to set a password and you get an extra audit trail in case a copy of a file leaks.
  • Set a short expiry interval.
    Send out a short-lived link by default, for example 2 weeks. If they haven’t seen it then, you can always send them a new one. If the link leaks, the limited time frame will help keep the damage to a minimum.
  • Add a watermark to files shared online.
    If you choose to share files publicly, consider adding a watermark to them to make it harder to share without proper attribution.
  • Create a custom format for sharing.
    For enterprise customers, we can provide custom formats for a given file type. These custom formats can then also be shared. Examples include a special video format with reduced audio bitrate, custom image specifications, etc.


Have more questions? Feel free to get in touch with us.

Contact details

MediaLab Online B.V.
Hettenheuvelweg 41-43
1101 BM Amsterdam

The Netherlands
+31 20 700 66 88

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