My question is similar to this one except that I need the files for a group of records, making the solution of querying ContentDocumentLink unworkable, because it requires a single Id for the where clause.

Currently I am querying the Object__Feed for all content posts, but now that files can be posted as comments this solution is incomplete. I also need to get the files that were posted as comments.

Is there any way to do this? I've tried querying the ContentVersion directly using the relatedRecordId on the chatter comment, but there is a security restriction that the file is not returned if it is privately shared, even though it's visible on the chatter feed of the record.

Edit The exact use case is for a controller displaying all the chatter files for a list of objects. The controller is a without sharing class, and when run as a system administrator the ContentVersion records are returned and displayed on the page. When run as anyone other than a System Admin the same page returns no records. Why isn't without sharing working?

  • I was able to reproduce this: a VF page and custom controller. I put a file in a library that the user does not have access to and then shared it with a custom object record through a Chatter feed comment. My user has access to the record (owner), and through the UI, the same user can access the file in the record feed comment. But when I execute the query in Apex as part of the Visualforce page there is no access to the Content version record. This is a bug IMO.
    – pchittum
    Mar 19, 2013 at 10:54

2 Answers 2


I think this might be solved by simply using the without sharing access keywords in your class.

public without sharing class MyChatterSearchClass{...}

Without sharing will ignore all sharing rules and allow your apex code to query as system. Otherwise, if you are using "with sharing" you are querying as user context, and any record access restrictions placed upon the user will apply to your code.

To provide a bit more color, without sharing is used often when you want to perform an action on behalf of a user that they wouldn't be able to normally. For instance, aggregating data to rollup to a record, where they might not normally have access to the records that are the basis for the aggregation.

Certainly there are security risks and you want to be extremely careful writing code as without sharing, but there are times when it is absolutely necessary. I can't speak to the use case that this request comes from, since I have no details as to that use case, but you need to be the one who decides whether what you are trying to do is a legitimate use case for without sharing.

  • This is a very bad idea, subverting the Salesforce security model is a very dangerous thing to do. And in my particular case (a managed package) is never going to be approved during the security review Oct 20, 2012 at 21:25
  • 2
    You asked if there is a way. Without sharing is the way.
    – pchittum
    Oct 21, 2012 at 23:21
  • 5
    ...and whoever voted me down, my answer is 100% factual and has been given in good faith. You don't have to vote it up...but as the How To Ask topic states: "The answer to your question may not always be the one you wanted, but that doesn’t mean it is wrong."
    – pchittum
    Oct 21, 2012 at 23:50
  • 1
    It was me, I have un-downvoted. I do still think this is a bad idea. But a comment is enough to express this Oct 22, 2012 at 2:23
  • 1
    Thanks for reconsidering your down vote, Daniel. Much appreciated.
    – pchittum
    Oct 22, 2012 at 8:09

The part of the project I was working on was put on hold until a solution could be found to this problem (hence the very late answer).

So after a lengthy discussion with Salesforce support; The answer is that there is no way to query ContentVersion records that have not been explicitly shared with a user, this is still enforced even if the apex controller is a without sharing class.

According to the Content Document team this is not a bug, because it has been documented here. Needless to say I disagree completely, what is the point of without sharing if it has restrictions?

A summary of the restrictions was provided to me and is as follows; A record will only be returned if it is shared with one or more of the following locations:

  • shared with libraries (workspaces) you are a member of
  • shared with Chatter groups you can see (private / public)
  • shared with you directly as a user (private sharing)
  • shared with the whole company.
  • And if you're the document owner, it'll list file regardless of where it's shared.

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