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Community Champion

Where can I download Canvas Guides?

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Hi everyone,

Can anybody point out where can I download the Canvas Guides.

I've tried the new interface with no table of  contents and it's not working as expected. For example if I search "quiz" or "create a quiz" the first match is How are courses and sections related? , the second suggestion is What are the default Canvas Notification Preferences? and the third one How do I use the Canvas app on my iPhone?

As you can see not really helpful. I suppose it will be improved soon, meanwhile I will go for the old methods.

I've found the get started for instructors and for students here, but I cannot find the same for admins or other roles.

Any advice?

Thanks 🙂


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27 Replies
Community Coach
Community Coach

 @chofer ​ - yes, kind of, but when you view it as a pdf it is two pages with clickable links. Which I'm fine with - actually like - but I've got instructors who want the WHOLE 2400+ page pdf and I told them I would check on it for them.

Community Coach
Community Coach

Gotcha...yeah, not sure if those were brought over.

Thanks for these  @chofer ! While PDF versions aren't in demand for us, we are also worried that the index or table of contents like pages (ex. Canvas Instructor Guide) are going to disappear. I think the move to a more search/tag/filter oriented design will be good, but these 'manual' like pages of links are quite useful for those looking for something with more upfront structure. I'm glad to see these two docs have been created and I hope the ones like what I linked above will come over too.

Community Team
Community Team

Hi Rosalie,

The search function is infinitely better if you're searching in the Guides space vs searching in the general search (up by your avatar). Our community team is aware that the search functionality is struggling and they're going to work on optimizing that content better. We're also still tagging content and revising lessons, so don't give up yet! (We'd recommend giving us a few weeks in this site before relinking your content, etc.)

Getting started docs: We never had a getting started guide for admins, though we aren't opposed to creating one. We do have one for instructors and students, which have been linked by others in previous responses.

Downloading the entire guides in PDF form: that capability isn't part of the new community, no. That functionality was one of the things we had to give up to integrate the guides to the new community. The Guides setup is also no longer in the same form as per the previous community so the articles don't clearly translate to manuals as before either; however, we've set up the categories to mimic those manuals. Additionally, the number of users who actually downloaded entire manuals was pretty minimal, so moving to the new community seemed like a good time to make the adjustment.

As for the old site, the entire PDFs can still be downloaded, but the most recent updates were in the beginning of April. I can guarantee that the guides always changed somehow immediately after they were published, so entire PDF manuals were never current anyway. Smiley Happy



Community Champion

Hi everyone and thanks for all your input.

matthiasfromm as  konasaid, I was looking for the pdf guides, as the interactive ones that we have are not working as expected.

erin thanks for your feedback. I can understand the reason why Canvas is giving up the integration of pdf guides, however Canvas must consider to reincorporate at least the table of contents for each guide.

You have to think of those users who have never been in Canvas and they will end up at that page thinking of where to start. Of course we can point them out to the get started for instructors and for students, but what about the new admins? 

When we click on Canvas Admin Guide appears a list of topics, in a forum format that doesn't give a clue about what are the topics an Admin can manage. The previous interactive guides the topics were divided into:

  • Account & subaccounts
  • Analytics
  • API
  • Authentication
  • Computer spec
  • Course & sections
  • External Tools
  • Grading schemes
  • Etc

With the table of contents we were able to identify clearly the topics and then move to the different topics/features related to them. But now it's a "kind of" a nightmare be there and try to find something. As I said, I tried to find how to create a quiz by typing "create quiz" or even "quiz" and the results doesn't make any sense.

I hope Canvas will fix this sooner than later.



Community Champion

The thing I miss most from the old guides was the ability to bring up a topic such as Discussions and have the "previous" and "next" links to sort of page through different aspects of a particular area. This is really a missing item in the new guides.

Community Contributor


So, if I had to grade the new Guides section I would give it a D- !  Here are my observations:

1. If I search from the main Guides page, I will get relevant Guides in the results.  However, I cannot see if they are guides for students or instructors or another role.

  • If I select one of the guides from the results list and open it, I STILL cannot see who the guide is aimed at.
    • For example: If I search from the main page for Discussions, then select, How do I delete a discussion.  Sure, using common sense, I can deduce that a student can't delete a discussion, therefore it must be a guide for an instructor.  But...a student (and heck, even many instructors) can NOT be expected to muddle that out for themselves. I can find NO indication on the guide itself as to who it is for.
  • If I click on Load More, THEN on See All Content Results, NOW I see the tags that will indicate if the guide is for a student or instructor.  This is too many clicks to get to this information.
  • RECOMMENDATION: The tags need to be show in the FIRST AND all subsequent results from the search.

2.  If I select a guide by role, say the Instructor Guide, I no longer have a search function.  Now I have to use the filter.

  • If I filter, I get useless results
    • For example: From the Instructor Guide I try to filter by Discussions.  My results are the exact same as if I had not put in any filter.
    • When Filtering by discussion, my first result is: What are the default Canvas Notification Preferences?
    • Matter of fact, the entire first page of results gives me only ONE listing with the word 'discussion' in it!  HOW on earth are we going to expect our users to find anything?  I'm frustrated and I'm an Admin that is trained to think about how these things work!
Community Champion

Some of us really like the PDF versions of the guides so much that we print them and have them hard-bound!


Community Coach
Community Coach

 @John_Lowe ​ - given how often Canvas updates and changes things doesn't your bound Canvas book get out-of-date pretty quickly?

I wasn't a previous Bb user, but I'm guessing the Bb one didn't change quite as much 😉

Community Champion

It certainly can get out-of-date quickly, but it is also a very helpful way to learn the ins-and-outs of a system.  When I search for something in online guides, I have to pretty much know what I'm searching for before I begin.  When I'm skimming PDF or printed guides (or even the old style online TOC guides), I find out about features or tools that I didn't even know existed.  Sure, it may get out-of-date, but it does still have that one benefit of being easily skimmable.

I'll send you a copy of my Blackboard ones if you'd like to have your very own,  @kona .  Smiley Happy