Canvas: Student Guide

Getting Started


Canvas supports the last two versions of every browser release. See a full list of supported browsers.


Most Canvas features are supported on mobile devices. Mobile apps are also available free for download on both smartphones and tablets.

Logging in

  1. Go to In the upper-right corner click Canvas. You can also click Dash in the lower-right corner. Dash will take you to all your online courses.
  2. Hover over Courses (it may say Courses & Groups) and select your course site.


The Dashboard includes information from all your courses, including upcoming activities and to do lists This is a quick way to launch directly into assignments, participate in discussions, or see recent feedback and grades.

Read about the Dashboard


To open a course, hover over Courses & Groups and select a course site.

To open a Canvas tool (feature), click its link in the left-hand navigation.

Profile and Other Settings

Click Settings in the upper-right corner to see account options and tools.

You can customize your notification settings here and even set up SMS messaging for critical activities.


Important: Click Submit Assignment in the upper-right corner to begin the process of submitting an assignment. You will need to click another Submit Assignment button when you're ready to submit it. If you don't see a Submit Assignment button, your instructor is not currently accepting online submissions for the assignment.

To view instructor comments, click Assignments. Click the assignment name. (If the due date for the assignment passed, it will appear under Past Assignments.) In the sidebar "Submission" box, click Submission Details. If you submitted the assignment with a file upload, the file will appear as an attachment.

At the top of the sidebar, you can view the grade (if any). If your assignment was graded using a rubric, click Show Rubric to see what scores you received for each criterion.

Any instructor comments added to your submission, as well as any comments added by you, will appear in the "Comments" portion of the sidebar.

Learn more about Assignments


The Chat feature is for real-time communication with your instructor and/or classmates. Open a chat room to join a chat session.

Learn more about Chat


Your calendar shows all your courses and groups. To subscribe to the Canvas Calendar through your U-M Google account, locate and copy the calendar feed below your Canvas calendar list. In Google Calendar, choose Add by URL under Other Calendars and copy the feed URL.

Learn more about the Calendar


Both instructors and students can start and contribute to discussions in Canvas.

Read more about Discussions


The Files feature is where you can keep documents and media files that are either independent of course sites or course-related. The tool is similar to Resources in CTools.

Learn more about Files


To see grades, while you are in the course site, click Grades in the left-hand navigation. View the scoring details for an assignment by clicking the checkmark icon. If there are comments, click the bubble icon to view.

Read More about Grades


Groups are a great way to share files, conduct discussions, and even video conference between team members.

Learn more about Groups


The Pages feature helps you collaborate with other students in a group. To add a page, click Pages in the left-hand navigation, click View All Pages, and click + Page

Read more about Pages


In addition to Quizzes from instructors, you can use this feature yourself to test your knowledge of the material in a course.

Learn more about Quizzes

Rich Text Editor

Use the editor in assignments, discussions, etc., and for embedding video and math formulas.

Teaching Evaluations

Teaching evaluations follow the standard U-M process: students are automatically sent email containing links to their online teaching evaluations.

In addition, you can link to teaching evals while you're in Canvas by clicking Accounts in the left-hand menu and then clicking Settings. You'll see the teaching evaluations link in the left-hand navigation.

Finally, your instructor may have added a link to teaching evaluations in the left-hand navigation of a course site.


Several tools in Canvas are the same as those in CTools. This chart shows what they're called in Canvas.

In Canvas In CTools
Discussions Forums
Modules LessonBuilder
Files Resources
Settings Site Info
Quizzes Test Center
Course Course Site
Features Tools
Assignment Groups Gradebook Categories
Redirect Tool Web Content Tool

Learn More and Get Help

Course Content Questions?

For questions about course content, please contact your instructor.

Learn About Using all Canvas Tools

Click Help at the bottom of the left-hand navigation to search Canvas Guides.

ITS Service Center

Contact the ITS Service Center

Last Updated: 
Wednesday, October 5, 2016