Download and Preview Documents

SupportAbility is a great place to store important Documents for Clients, Staff, Contacts, Organisation Incidents and Opportunities for Improvement. Many of these uploaded Documents contain private information, so care needs to be taken with how these Documents are viewed and interacted with.

In most cases, Staff Members simply need to view files. Generally, they don't need to download a copy of the document onto the device they are using. To assist with this, SupportAbility provides two buttons for each uploaded Document, 'Download' and 'Preview'.

Audience: All


Selecting the download button downloads the document onto the Staff Member's computer or device so that it can be edited and uploaded again as a new document. The Staff Member is then responsible for deleting the file from the device once they have finished working with it.


If the Staff Member is using a device that supports the preview (see details below), they will be able to click the preview button which will show them the contents of the file without downloading it to their device. This is generally preferable because they do not need to remember to clear the device of private information.

These buttons are available for selection next to the attachment within the Documents tab of the record e.g:

When can Documents be previewed in the web browser?

The ability to preview Documents in the web browser will depend on:

  • Web browser
  • Operating system
  • File format

The following table shows when it is possible to preview the Document and when it is not:

Chrome Extension to preview Microsoft Office file formats

Previewing Microsoft Office file formats (e.g. Word or Excel) in Chrome is only possible with the use of the Google Office Editing for Docs, Sheets & Slides extension available from the Chrome Web Store.

Unfortunately, this extension is not yet available on tablet and mobile devices, and therefore these file formats must be downloaded on such devices.  

The Office Editing for Docs, Sheets & Slides extension is for previewing documents only and  any changes made when a document is opened using this plugin are not saved.  To make any changes to a document, staff still need to download the document, edit the document and then re-upload it to SupportAbility. We recommend asking your IT staff/provider to rollout this Chrome extension automatically to all staff machines using Chrome.

When the in-browser preview functionality is not available, the 'Preview Unavailable' the following icon will be displayed: 

N.B. There is a known limitation with the preview button when using Chrome on Windows or MacOS operating systems. The preview button will display for Microsoft Office file extensions even if the extension is not installed. However, in such scenarios, selecting the preview button will trigger the Document to download.

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