In Canvas there are three different ways in which you can communicate with students. These consist of Announcements and Messages.

You can use Announcements to share important information or updates with your students. When creating your announcement you can choose whether to send it to all users on the module or to module sections (e.g. in the case of a cross listed module).You can add rich text, images, video and audio to announcements and choose whether to allow users to reply to announcements.


 To create an announcement in Canvas, complete the following steps. 

  1. In Module Navigation, click Announcements.
  2. Click +Announcement to open the New announcement page. 
  3. Enter a title for the announcement in the Topic title field. 
  4. Enter the announcement content in the Rich Content Editor.
  5. Optional: To add materials like external links, images, media, and documents click down arrow next to their respective icons in the editor. You can then include external materials to the announcement.
  6. Optional: By default, Canvas sends your announcement to all sections within your module. If your module is crosslisted you may have multiple sections. To select specific sections for your announcement, click the Post to drop-down list and select the sections that you want the announcement to post to. 
  7. Optional: To add an attachment to your announcement, click Choose file and add the attachment. 
  8. Optional: You can select any of the following options for your announcement: 
    • Delay posting: Select to delay the posting of the announcement. You can select a date for the announcement to be posted. 
    • Allow users to comment: Select to allow students to comment on the announcement. Comments on announcements are not allowed by default if this is not selected. This selection is persistent, so is selected when you create a new announcement in the same module. 
    • Users must post before seeing replies: Select to require that students reply to the announcement before seeing other comments. This selection is not persistent and needs to be selected for each new announcement if required.
    • Enable podcast feed: Select to enable an announcement podcast feed.
    • Allow 'liking'. Select to allow students to like announcement replies. 
  9. Click Save. The announcement immediately appears in your module, unless you are using Delay posting.
Note: Comment options may not be available to you if announcement comments are disabled in your options. See here for information on how to check your module settings if you cannot see these checkboxes.

Inbox & Conversations

Your inbox in Canvas is for communicating with your students. This has the same function as a normal email. The Inbox is split into two panels and displays messages chronologically. You can view and reply to conversations and sort them by course or inbox type.
Click the Inbox icon Image Placeholder to access the inbox.

Your inbox is the best way to communicate with your students both individually and or collectively as a class group.  A couple of things to note
  • If you right-click or option-click on the Inbox link, you can open your Inbox in a new browser tab to keep it handy while you are doing other tasks in Canvas.
  • Users display in the Inbox once they have an active enrollment in the course, and users cannot join a course unless it is published.
  • Once a course has concluded and its term date has passed, you can no longer message students in that course.                                                                             
In Global Navigation, click Inbox.

If the Inbox includes a numbered indicator, the indicator shows how many unread messages. you have in your Inbox. Once you read the new messages, the indicator will disappear.

View Toolbar

The toolbar includes global message options. To load conversations, filter your messages by course or group [1] and type [2]. Filtering by type lets you filter messages by Inbox, Unread, Starred, Sent, Archived, and Submission Comments. You can compose a message at any time using the compose icon [3]. You can also search for conversations by user in the Search by user field [4].


Once you have selected a conversation, you can use the other options in the toolbar to:
  • Reply to a conversation
  • Reply-all to a conversation
  • Archive a conversation
  • Delete a conversation
  • Forward, mark a conversation as read or unread, and star conversations

View Inbox Panels

Conversations for your selected course and Inbox filter appear in the left Inbox panel.

View Conversations

The Inbox is organized chronologically from newest to oldest with the newest conversations appearing on top [1] and the older conversations at the bottom.
You can manually mark a conversation as read or unread by hovering over the conversation and clicking the circle to the left of the conversation [2]. To start a conversation, hover over the conversation and click the star to the right of the conversation [3].  

View Conversation Thread

When you select a conversation [1], all messages in the conversations thread appear in the right Inbox panel [2].  

Manage Conversation Thread

Within each conversation, you can reply, reply-all, forward, or delete the entire conversation thread [1]. You can also hover over an individual message and use the same commands within the individual message [2].  

Select Multiple Conversations

To select multiple messages to archive, delete, mark as read, mark as unread, or star, select the checkbox for each message [1]. You can also press the command key (Mac) or the control key (Windows) while clicking each message you want to select. In the Inbox toolbar [2], click the desired option.

  • To select all messages, click the command + A keys (Mac) or the control + A keys (Windows).
  • To select a range of messages, click the first message you want to select, hold down the Shift key, and then click the last message you want to select. All messages between the first and the last messages will be selected.
Note: You can also click the message check box or use the same keyboard command to deselect a message.