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How do I use Commons?

How do I use Commons?

You can use Commons to search for and import content into your Canvas courses. You can also share resources to Commons from your Canvas courses.

Learn more about Canvas Commons.


  • To enable Commons in your Canvas instance, please contact your Customer Success Manager. To access Commons, you need to have an email address associated with your Canvas account.
  • Users who can create or edit course content in Canvas also have access to Commons. This includes Admins, Teachers, Designers, and TAs. If an institution does not want student TAs to have access to Commons, an account admin should create a custom TA role in Canvas that does not have permission to create or edit course content.
  • Commons is available in all Free for Teacher (FFT) accounts. Free for Teacher users are limited to finding, importing, and sharing public resources.
  • The Resource Previews feature is currently an optional feature and must be enabled by an administrator in Commons. If your institution has not enabled Resource Previews, the resource details page may look different.

Open Commons

Open Commons

In Global Navigation, click the Commons link.

Find Resources

A resource in Commons can be a course, module, quiz, assignment, discussion, page, document, video, image, or audio file. Each resource type has a unique icon. Look for these related colors and icons when searching for resources. To find resources in Commons, use the search field [1]. You can search for keywords such as author, institution, or title. You can also search by outcome, consortium, or group.

To sort search results by Most Relevant, Latest, Most Favorited, or Most Downloaded, click the Sort by drop-down menu [2].

To apply search filters to your search, click the Filter button [3].

Based on your selected filters, the number of results are displayed in the page [4]. To search everything available to you in Commons, leave the search field and filters blank.

You can also view featured content in the results page [5]. Featured content includes high quality content that is featured in the Commons search page. Featured content can be imported or downloaded like any other content in Commons.

Note: Depending on the account settings set by your Canvas admin, you may be unable to view and/or share public content.

Filter Search Results

Filter Search Results

To narrow your search, or to search by filter, use one or more of the filter options:

  • Approved Resources [1]: If your admin has enabled approved resources, you can filter results to only show approved resources.
  • Type [2]: You can filter by resource type (e.g., Courses, Modules, Assignments, Quizzes, Discussions, Pages, Documents, Images, Videos, or Audio).
  • Content Types [3]: You can filter by template or open textbook.
  • Grade/Levels [4]: You can select specific grades or level of education to narrow your search (e.g., K-12, Undergraduate, Graduate).
  • Shared With [5]: You can filter results by resources shared publicly, in your account, in a group, or in a consortium.

View Content Card

View Search Results

In search results, resource details are displayed on content cards. Each card displays the following details:

  • Approved Resource icon [1]: Identify institution-approved resources. Note that the approved resources feature must be enabled by an account admin.
  • Resource icon [2]: Identify the resource type
  • Title [3]: View the title of the resource
  • Grade level(s) [4]: View the grade/level of the resource
  • Author [5]: View the author of the resource
  • Downloads and Favorites icons [6]: View the number of times a resource has been downloaded and imported or added as a favorite.

To preview a resource, view more details, or import a resource, click the resource title.

View Resource

The content overview page loads the Preview tab by default. The sidebar contains further information and links:

  • Favorites and Downloads [1]: Displays the number of times a resource has been added as a favorite or downloaded
  • Date of last update [2]: Date when content was last updated by an author
  • License [3]: Displays either the Copyright or Creative Commons content license
  • Thumbnail and Approved Icon [4]: Resource thumbnail and, if applicable, the approved resource icon
  • Import/Download button [5]: Button to download or import the resource
  • Size and Type [6]: Size of resource file(s) and the type of content
  • Favorites button [7]: Add the resource to your Favorites
  • Copy Resource button [8]: copy the resource link to your clipboard

View Resource Preview

To preview resource content, click the Preview tab. The Preview tab is shown by default.

View Resource Details

In the Details tab, you can view a summary of the resource and related information:

  • Description [1]: A brief explanation or summary of the resource
  • Author(s) [2]: User(s) who shared the resource
  • Account [3]: The account from which the resource was shared
  • Grade/Level [4]: The suggested grade level(s) for the resource
  • Tags [5]: Relevant tags or keywords to identify the resource
  • Duration [6]: Duration of an audio or video file. Only applicable to audio or video resources
  • Outcomes [7]: Outcomes linked to a resource. Only applicable to resources with linked outcomes
  • Shared With [8]: Sharing settings (account, group(s), consortium(s), public, private)
  • Reviews [9]: Reviews by other users

When you are ready to import a resource, click the Import/Download button and select a course.

Note: Not all resources will display all details. Listed details depend on the type of resource and information provided by the author.

View Version Notes

View Version Notes

To view any updates made to the resource, click the Version notes tab. Updates are sorted by date and time and may include a description of changes made.

Share a Resource

Share a Resource

You can share a variety of resources to Commons from your Canvas course, including a Canvas course, course content, and files.

View Commons Guides

To view a list of helpful Commons guides, click the Guides link.

Access Commons Guides

Access Commons Guides

To access all the Commons guides, click the Canvas Commons Guides link [1]. To access a specific Commons guide, click the link of the corresponding guide [2].

Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and Help

Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and Help

You can access the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy, and Help in the footer in any page in Commons.


I have access to Canvas through NCVPS as a co-teacher.  I also have a course placed in this canvas through NCDPI.  I want to upload and use a free course in Commons.  How do I access it?  




I need to enable commons but I have no idea how to do that nor do I have a customer service rep...

Hi @Briannefiero,

I recommend reaching out to your local admin. They should be able to reach out to your account manager and get Commons set up in the account.

Good luck!


Hi @dgunderson,

You should be able to access Commons through a link in Global Navigation, if it is set up in your account. Once in Commons, you can import content into Canvas. From Canvas, you can share a course to Commons.

I hope this helps!


I have access to Canvas. but the class that I  teach is ALL online at the publishers website, so I don not use Canvas.

@lyn13261 that sounds great. You've posted to the public Canvas Community.  Please let us know if you need any help learning what you can do with Canvas.

These comments are posted to the global Canvas Community,

NOT your Canvas course.

  • Have a question about using Canvas? Visit the Q&A page.
  • Have an idea to improve Canvas? Visit the Idea Conversations space.
  • Need to reply to a course discussion? Log in to your Canvas course and add your comment there (Tip: Visit your school's website to log in to Canvas).
Version history
Revision #:
3 of 3
Last update:
‎08-31-2020 02:18 PM
Updated by: