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Canvas - Using Announcements and Inbox to Communicate with Students

Announcements and Inbox are the two primary communication tools for an instructor to get in touch with students in Canvas. This page will help you understand these tools and how to best use them.


Announcements is a tool in Canvas that allows instructors to post information and updates to all members of a course or a certain section of a course directly in Canvas. Students also receive an email notification when a new Announcement is posted.

Watch this Announcements video tutorial to learn more.

Why use Announcements?

There are several benefits to using Announcements. In addition to receiving an email notification when an Announcement is posted, the Announcements feature allows students to directly access information on Canvas. Instructors can pin Announcements to the top of their course’s homepage so it is the first thing students see. All Announcements are saved in the Announcements tool, so instructors may access past Announcements and repurpose them in future courses. When making an Announcement, instructors can use Canvas’ Rich Content Editor to add different media, such as pictures and videos.

How Announcements Work

Students can view Announcements in three ways: in Canvas using the Announcements tab; in Canvas pinned to the course homepage; or as an email.

 Announcement in student view on Canvas

Instructors can also let students reply to Announcements. Those replies are visible to all course participants. Students receive notifications by default, but may have previously altered their settings. Remind students to review their Canvas Notification settings so they are immediately updated when they receive a message in Canvas. 

More Questions? See this list of available tutorials for using Announcements.


Inbox is the email tool available in Canvas. It can be used to communicate and create conversations with all students in a course, students in a specific section, an individual student, or a group of students. In Inbox, you can access all of your previous emails.

Inbox allows instructors to consolidate all course-related information and communication in one place. Inbox is also often referred to as Conversations in Canvas Notification settings as well as other places in Canvas.

Watch this brief video overview of Conversations for more information on Canvas Inbox.

How Inbox Works

New message notification on InboxOnce someone sends a message, students receive a notification of the unread message in Canvas and via their email. Students receive notifications by default, but may have previously altered their settings. Remind students to review their Canvas Notification settings so they are immediately updated when they receive a message in Canvas. 

New message notifications appear as numbers on the Inbox icon in the Global Navigation Bar. Inbox collects conversations from all courses and can be used to email any course the user is enrolled in. Within Inbox, you can filter messages by course, section, recipient, etc. 

When students reply to a Conversation thread from their email or from the Inbox, replies appear in an instructor’s Conversation Inbox and email notifications are sent to instructor’s email address about the new message. Instructors receive email notifications about new messages by default. As an instructor, you can also adjust your Notifications to receive copies of each email you send from Canvas.

For more information, review How do I use the Inbox as an instructor?


Frequently Asked Questions

How can students communicate with each other in Canvas?

Students can communicate with each other using Inbox in Canvas. View this short video outlining the different options students have to communicate with each other.

Do all students in a course receive emails that instructors send in Canvas?

Yes, all students will receive emails in their Canvas Inbox by default. However, students may unsubscribe from receiving email notifications from Canvas. If you plan to rely on Canvas Conversations for course communication, then remind students to check their individual Canvas notification settings and consider including a syllabus statement about online communication expectations.