[Inbox] Add search feature for Inbox/Conversations

Finding a specific message in the Canvas Inbox is a difficult task due to the lack of a search feature. This is compounded for instructors of large courses, who may have thousands of students over the course of just a single academic year. 


This is not a new request, but all previous feature requests around this topic have been archived:








Because this issue has such a disproportionate impact on instructors of large courses -- who have a large number of inbox messages -- there may be some alignment between this ongoing need and the Instructure Priority: Teaching & Learning at Scale initiative.

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Add or improve search functionality Theme Status: Identified

Coach Emeritus

Hi  @stevenwilliams ‌

In the Canvas Inbox you can filter by course and by status, and you can search by user name. Learn more at..............

However; keyword, text, topic, content etc. search capabilities do not exist. I can see where these could be particularly useful for large courses as you mentioned.


Community Participant

Thanks for these resources, Kelley. However, the existing Canvas features do not fully address the needs of instructors of large courses, who may have hundreds of messages related to any particular class (at my institution, we have classes with up to 1500 students). This is especially true when an instructor recalls the content of a conversation, but not the name of the student who they had the conversation with. 

Coach Emeritus

Agreed, and that's why I voted in support of this idea!

Community Novice

What business (even Canvas) could function without an operational search function for their e-mails?

Community Explorer

Yes, please! This would be especially helpful for instructors who have a large # of classes and/or students and who need to find communication with just a particular student. For ex., today I was asked to help someone find messages regarding a student who was going to be dropped from the course last semester. Because this instructor uses the Inbox for weekly reminders and assignment details, it was very cumbersome to search through the hundreds of messages. Narrowing the search down by course and type of message (sent, unread, etc.) helps a little, but to be able to search by the person's name would have been SO much better. The "star" feature did not seem to work to isolate sent messages in a concluded class, so if the instructor needs to access these messages again, he will just have to scroll, scroll, scroll until he finds them.

Community Explorer

Yes - I tried the search feature that's shown at the bottom of this guide: How do I filter conversations as an instructor?  But it didn't work to find conversations with a student who was no longer enrolled in the course (but for whom there WERE indeed previous messages in the Inbox). That search feature is sort of a generic search for anyone you have an enrollment in common with; it does not search the folder (Unread, Inbox, Sent), etc. Even though the Canvas Inbox is a messaging service and and not email, that's what we need: the ability to search within the Inbox and its individual folders, much the way an Outlook (or other email) search works. 

Community Contributor

Our teachers and students have been asking for the ability to search their conversation boxes by keywords almost since we went to canvas.

Sometimes it's as easy as knowing that a student asked for an extension but not remembering the student and simply wanting to search on "deadline" or "extension" to find the conversation.

Community Member

This is a necessary feature. I have just realized that it does not exist, and I am considering not using the messages function in canvas any more. 

Community Participant

This would be very helpful. I send out "Course Progress" emails to students who are struggling throughout the semester   - to encourage them to come in and meet with me. Having this feature would allow me to follow up directly on those emails with things like 'I see you got a good score on x - good job!" or "I see you are still having trouble with y - would you like to meet again?". 

Community Novice

It would be great if users could search their Canvas emails just like users have been able to do in Gmail, Hotmail, etc. for many years now.  This seems like a basic feature that should be offered!  Thank you.