Note: You are currently viewing documentation for Moodle 2.3. Up-to-date documentation for the latest stable version is available here: Managing authentication.

Managing authentication

From MoodleDocs

Setting the authentication method(s)

An administrator can set the authentication method(s) for the site as follows:

  1. Go to Settings > Site administration > Plugins > Authentication > Manage authentication
  2. Click the eye icon to enable selected authentication plugins (closed eye = disabled, open eye = enabled)
  3. Click the settings link opposite the authentication plugin(s) you have chosen
  4. Configure the required settings and click the "Save changes" button
  5. Repeat until you have edited all the plugins you have enabled

More than one authentication plugin may be enabled. Any authentication plugin can be used to find a username/password match. Once found, a user is logged in and alternative plugins are not used. Therefore the plugin which handles the most logins should be moved to the top of the page in order that less load is put on authentication servers.


Authentication common settings

Authentication common settings can be changed by an administrator in Settings > Site administration > Plugins > Authentication > Manage authentication.


Self registration

If you wish users to be able to create their own user accounts, i.e. self-register, then select Email-based self-registration (or any other enabled plugin that can support self registration, like LDAP) from the drop-down menu. This will result in a "Is this your first time here?" instructions and a "Create new account" button being displayed on the login page.

Warning: Enabling self registration results in the possibility of spammers creating accounts in order to use forum posts, blog entries etc. for spam. This risk can be minimized by limiting self registration to particular email domains with the allowed email domains setting (see below). Alternatively, self registration may be enabled for a short period of time to allow users to create accounts, and then later disabled by setting 'Self registration' to Disable in the common settings in Settings > Site administration > Plugins > Authentication > Manage authentication.

Note: The Email-based self-registration authentication plugin must be enabled to allow users who previously self-registered to login with that plugin. Selecting Email-based self-registration as the self registration method allows potential users to self register.

Guest login button

You can hide or show the guest login button on the login page. Hiding the guest login button disables guest access to the Moodle site, however logged-in users can still enter any courses which allow guest access without being required to enrol.

Alternate login URL

This should be used with care, since a mistake in the URL or on the actual login page can lock you out of your site. If you do mess it up, you can remove the entry alternateloginurl from your database (table mdl_config) using, e.g., phpmyadmin for mysql. Depending on your configuration, you will also have to clear your caches with php admin/cli/purge_caches.php.

Forgotten password URL

If your lost password handling is performed entirely outside of Moodle (for example, only by a help desk), you can set the url of that service here. Anybody pressing a "lost password" link in Moodle will be redirected to this URL. Note that this will disable all of Moodle's lost password recovery options regardless of authentication method(s) in use.


The instructions field is for providing custom login instructions on the login page. If the field is left blank then the default login instructions will be displayed.

Login page with default instructions displayed
Login page with custom instructions displayed

An alternative method of providing custom login instructions is to edit the default login instructions using the language customization feature. This method should be used if you wish to provide custom login instructions in more than one language.

  1. Go to Settings > Site administration > Language > Language customization
  2. Select a language then click the button 'Open language pack for editing' then click continue
  3. Select moodle.php and enter loginsteps as string identifier then click 'Show strings'
  4. Enter your custom login instructions in the local customisation text box
  5. Click the button 'Save changes to the language pack' then click continue
  6. Repeat the steps for other languages

Allowed and denied email domains

Authentication may be restricted to particular email domains when using Email-based self-registration so that, for example, only students with a university email can login.

Restrict domains when changing email

You can choose to enforce email domains only when users create an account using Email-based self-registration i.e. after creating an account, users may change their email to a different domain.


New account form with CAPTCHA element

A CAPTCHA is a program that can tell whether its user is a human or a computer. CAPTCHAs are used by many websites to prevent abuse from bots, or automated programs usually written to generate spam. No computer program can read distorted text as well as humans can, so bots cannot navigate sites protected by CAPTCHAs.

Spam protection may be added to the Email-based self-registration new account form with a CAPTCHA element - a challenge-response test used to determine whether the user is human.

ReCAPTCHA keys can be obtained from by signing up for an account (free) then entering a domain. The public and private keys provided can then be copied and pasted into the recaptchapublickey and recaptchaprivatekey fields in the manage authentication common settings, and the changes saved.

In addition to setting reCAPTCHA keys, email-based self-registration should be set as the self registration authentication plugin in the manage authentication common settings and the reCAPTCHA element should be enabled in the Email-based self-registration settings.

Profile fields data mapping and locking

Most (but not all) authentication plugins that use an external source for the user account details allow us to retrieve some user profile details (like first name, last name, email, etc.). By using the Data Mapping section on those authentication plugins configuration page we can configure what, when and how to manage all those user profile details.

Data Mapping Options

These fields are optional. You can choose to pre-fill some Moodle user fields with information from the external authentication source (if you are using one), from the fields that you specify here. If you leave these fields blank, then nothing will be transferred from the external authentication source and Moodle defaults will be used instead. In either case, the user will be able to edit all of these fields after they log in.

In addition to specifying how to fill this fields, we can set how to update them (in both directions, to Moodle or from Moodle), and whether we want to lock them (so the user cannot modify their value) or not:

  • Update local: When the user field will be updated from the external authentication source:
    • On creation: when the user account is created during the first login
    • On every login: every time the user logs in (or there is a user synchronization, for those authentication plugins that support it). Fields set to update locally should be locked.
  • Update external: When the external authentication source will be updated from the user field:
    • Never: never update the external authentication source from Moodle.
    • On update: the external authentication source will be updated when the user profile is updated. Fields should be unlocked to allow edits.
  • Lock value: To prevent users from altering some fields (e.g. students changing profile information to inappropriate or misleading information), the site administrator can lock profile fields. It's usually a good idea to lock profile fields if you are maintaining this data in the external authentication system.
    • Unlocked: The field is unlocked and can be edited by the user at any time.
    • Unlocked if empty: The field is unlocked if it is empty, but once the user fills in some information, it becomes locked and cannot be edited any more.
    • Locked: The field is locked and cannot be edited by the user.

If you are using a mixture of authentication types (such as IMAP and manual), then the fields you map and lock in the authentication options are specific to that particular authentication plugin. Each authentication plugin has its own set of mapped and locked fields.

Remember to test the field locking by logging in with the proper type of account! If you test with a manual account but have set the field locking to apply to IMAP accounts, you will not be able to tell if it worked!