[Inbox] Auto-reply for Canvas messages

This idea has been developed and is On Canvas Beta •  How do I access the Canvas beta environment?

For more information, please read through the Canvas Release Notes (2024-07-20) 

Please add a "out of office" feature to the Canvas messages so that students who use the Canvas Inbox to send messages during winter or summer breaks will know that faculty are off campus and unable to reply. 

Community Novice

Pleaseeee add this. My students seem to think I'm some sort of a robot.

Particularly with the recent global transition to online mode, the students are more active on this LMS than ever. I have automated emails on the weekends on outlook at the moment, but we need it here too! 

Community Participant

Yes! We need autoreply on the Inbox for all of these reasons. I am adding a Comment in the hope that it bumps this feature request to InStructure's attention.

Community Novice

If it is not possible to add an auto-reply, which seems odd, could the CANVAS messaging function be closed for incoming messages or alternatively the function as a whole be made optional? There are so many other options in CANVAS, why is this mandatory? In the future I will inform students that I am not using CANVAS messaging and direct them to my official e-mail. In case CANVAS messaging is used for outgoing group messages, a standard message will be added that "no-reply" applies.

Community Novice

Maybe you have already figured this out, but you can actually have Canvas emails forwarded to your University email, and you can even respond back to them from your University inbox. You just need to go into your settings and make sure you have your email address added in Account > Settings, and the notification for Conversations set with a check mark on Conversation Message. The forwarded emails (and emails within Canvas) should have the name of the course they are coming from. This is actually one of the reasons I prefer to use the Canvas email system rather than my University email for student questions--they usually do not identify which course they are in when they email me directly. Hope this helps!

Wholeheartedly agree that we need to have the ability to set an OOO or an auto-reply though. My students, too, think that I exist only within Canvas!

Community Explorer

There really could be more robust messaging features, including auto-response. Especially now, as teachers are juggling so many different platforms and apps, good communication is hard enough as it is.

Community Member

I agree, this is a necessary feature!

Community Member

I agree that auto-reply is an extremely important function and honestly there is no workaround. The most emails I receive from students via Canvas inbox are administrative questions that are already on the syllabus. It's really frustrating to receive countless emails like those even if I repeated to them a hundred times that these questions should go to the Q&A discussion board. An auto-reply is definitely the solution.

I also second the idea of disabling inbox on Canvas such that students won't take it for granted to email the professors without any effort trying to click some buttons themselves. 

Community Member

I keep coming across needed features that seem quite basic and have been in the request queue for years (anonymous posting; autoreply). Are our ideas getting sent Canvas design staff?

Yes, an option to turn messaging off altogether would make sense, but if we can't do that, then at a minimum students need to be notified (automatically!) when we're away so they're not left thinking we don't care enough to respond.

Could we hear from Canvas staff on any of these issues, please? Thank you

Community Member

This would be such a great feature.  I hope that it is added soon!

Community Participant

One of our academics (teachers) would like to set up automatic replies in her Canvas inbox as she's working part-time. This would avoid students being frustrated if they don't receive an answer within 24h. It would allow her to schedule an auto-response message so that she doesn't have to worry about getting back to a full inbox.

Here is her take on the idea: "I wanted to ask whether my canvas can be enabled to use an automatic email response? This would be great to keep my sanity in tact so I don’t work Monday to Sunday responding to students email."

The feature could be added as a new button on the top toolbar when on the inbox menu. Somewhere next to the "Compose message" button. It would allow the user to schedule the auto-response for a specific date range or for a recurring time or unlimited period of time. This feature would be useful for all user types (students, teachers and admin) as we all take holidays at some point.