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Auto-reply for Canvas messages

Auto-reply for Canvas messages


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 Team
Community Team

Hello,  @sduffy4  Welcome to the Canvas Community! Please know that since Canvas doesn't have email, we've edited the title and description of your idea submission to replace references to "email" with "messages" and "Canvas Inbox."

Learner II

I'd like to second this idea. It would be incredibly useful for our institution.

We have official university email addresses that students and staff should use, particularly when it comes to official correspondence regarding assignment extensions, extenuating circumstances, etc.

Some staff at our institution don't closely monitor their Canvas messages, so an 'out of office' that could essentially act as an auto-reply feature would be very useful. I.e: 'Thank you for your message, however I do not monitor my Canvas messages. Please contact me with any correspondence at [email address].'

Community Member

Yes, please! We desperately need this feature so that it mirrors what we have in our Microsoft email. 

Community Member

Great idea!

Community Member

Yes, please! I have an autoreply on my institution email set to provide students information about whom to contact with exam-day emergencies, for example, but when they contact me via Canvas, they do not receive that information. Our strong preference would be for students to NOT use the Canvas Inbox at all (with 1,000-2,000 students each semester, this is not a terrific messaging system), but since we do not have the option to turn that off for our courses or indicate to students within the messaging system that their messages will not be read, it would be very helpful to be able to set an autoreply. Thank you!

Community Member

Yes please! For the reasons above and also the following:

1. For setting out of office replies outside regular office hours: this is important for instructors’ and students’ health and wellbeing, setting boundaries and respecting working and learning conditions. (In some place, like where I am, this is part of institutional policy and workplace rights are part of the law.)

2. To protect vulnerable teachers who are in precarious employment from bullying and harassment by students.

3. For students: if a student is sending messages at highly irregular hours (ex. 3 a.m.) this can be a sign of stress, anxiety, distress, or crisis; a message could also be a cry for help, whether indirectly related to changes in mental health or directly following trauma, reaching out to a responsible and responsive adult whom they trust. It’s good to be able to send automated replies that don’t just say “sorry, closed” but that also include contact information for emergency and urgent services. (That is: the same information that I’ve written in my institutional email system’s automated message.)

Community Member

Yes, yes, and yes--thank you for adding these important points!


CANVAS seems to presume that teachers work full time with CANVAS alone, which is very odd. CANVAS should be a tool to relieve us from administration, not create more of it.

Community Member

I really need this, because my students inundate me on Canvas and my university email separately. I'd like to have only one place to check. Going into Canvas as an additional place to check is a problem. If students' emails could be forwarded to our university emails that would help. Furthermore, we can file and keep records of emails on our university email systems, which we cannot on Canvas. The Canvas emails also confuse me, because I do not know which courses the questions are coming from. It's just too chaotic.

Additionally, we need an out of office message on Canvas. They do not know when we are not available. Many online students think we are available 24/7 and we have other things going on. Without these two features, they think we do not care and they feel under-served.

Dr. Kate Reynolds


Yes!  I use Canvas to record grades and post documents for students.  I do NOT spend other time in there just because.  I only see messages when I log in to conduct administrative functions for my classes.  The fact that messaging cannot be turned off or automatically forwarded to my email address is bad enough, but not being able to set up an auto-reply?  Canvas needs to work for me, not me for it.

Community Member

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! 

Learner II

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.


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 Member

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!

Surveyor II

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.


I agree, this is a necessary feature!


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. 


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


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


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.