HowToMoodle BlogSubscribe to our Blog

How to use Upload users in Moodle to manage users effectively

by Gemma Mellings on | Apr 14, 2015 | Blog, Moodle Tips, Moodle | 0 comments

One of the first decisions you’ll need to make when beginning your Moodle project is how to give users access to the site so that they can login and access courses. The process of creating accounts and checking users’ credentials when logging in is controlled by the Authentication method. The most common method of creating accounts that we do get a lot of questions about is using Upload users. This uses the Manual authentication method.

What is Upload users

The Upload users process basically involves using a spreadsheet to create and update users, and to enrol them into specific courses and into specific groups if that is required -this is covered in our Moodle administrator course. Recent questions about the Upload users process have been largely centred on what else can be done with this process that can make things easier for the Moodle administrator. I will outline a few possibilities in this post.

Upload users on the Site Administration menu

How to use Upload users to send out joining instructions

One of the best things about Upload users process for me is that when you are creating users, if a password is not included in the .csv file, Moodle will automatically create one for you and email each user. This can be used to your advantage as you can edit this email so that it aligns with the communication plan for your course rollouts so you may wish to include a list of the benefits of the course to the learners and the organisation to get buy-in, specific links to a course or perhaps an online document so that they have the information they need to complete the course.

Changing the text in this email can be done by the Moodle administrator at Site administration > Language > Language customisation. Once the appropriate language pack has been loaded, then search for the newusernewpasswordtext text string. Once isolated, you can change whatever you want in the message by adding your text to the Local customisation pane.

Please note, there are placeholders in this text string that looks something like this, {$a-> firstname}. What happens here is that the placeholder will be replaced by an appropriate value (the user’s first name in my example) when the email is generated so that users received a personalised email.

How to use Upload users to change user details en masse

Another task that Moodle administrators may need to do from time to time is to amend the account details of a large number of users, for example if an organisation changes their domain name, all email addresses may need to be changed in the site. This can also be done using the Upoad users feature.

In this specific scenario, it would be best to export all users in a spreadsheet (Site administration > Bulk user actions – select all users and choose Download from the With selected users… dropdown). Once the downloaded spreadsheet is opened in a program such as Excel you can make the necessary changes to the learner details and save as a .csv file. When you have uploaded your .csv file, on the preview page (the page following the page you add your upload file), make sure that the Upload type is Update existing users only and that Existing user details is set to Override with file.

Using upload users to change user details

Other tasks may include changing the default settings of all users, for example, if the Moodle administrator receives a lot of complaints from learners that they are getting too many forum-related emails - by default, learners receive an email every time a post is added to a forum that they are subscribed to. One way to resolve these complaints would be to change the email digest setting of all users so that they only receive a single email containing all the posts from that day.

To do this, as before get a download of all users, don’t make any changes and save the file as a .csv. Start the Upload users process by uploading your file to the appropriate page (Site administration > Upload users) and on the preview page are a number of default values, one of which concerns how learners receive posts from the forums they are subscribed to. Change the Email digest type setting from No digest to another option that just notifies learners once a day with all the posts.

Using upload uses to change settings for all users

If doing this, make sure that the Existing user details value is Override with file and defaults.

The tasks mentioned are the more common administrator tasks that can be carried out using Upload users, but there are others including the deleting and suspending of users. Together with the enrolment functionality, the Upload users is one administrative feature that can really save Moodle administrators a lot of time

One final thing, if you are a Moodle administrator, while not essential it is very useful to be proficient with your spreadsheet program. Learning how to use calculations to manipulate text for example would allow you to generate large numbers of usernames very easily using personal data, for example, you might decide that the syntax for usernames should be initial of first name followed by the first 5 letters of their surname. My username would end up being c_hodki as shown below. In the event that there is already a user with that username, Moodle automatically adds an incremental number.

Using calculations in Excel to generate usernames for the upload users process

What Next

How to upload users in Moodle is one of the many topics we cover in our Online Moodle Training Courses.

If you would like to get more out of your Moodle site, we want to help. Call us on 0330 660 1111 or contact us via

Develop your Moodle skills further with our online Moodle Training

Share this: