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Replying to email notifications and including an attachment

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I had a teacher email me today saying that a number of her students had replied with attachments to a notification that was sent to them from Canvas notifications.

When she looked at the message in Canvas, the text was there but not the attachment. We are both scratching our heads as to why - it clearly states in the email that "You can reply to this message in Canvas by replying directly to this email." - which is what the students did.

Have I not checked a setting or something? There is nothing in the guides to suggest something needs to be activated for this to occur...

Could someone point me in the right direction as to how I can get this working?

Cheers!

1 Solution

Accepted Solutions
Community Team
Community Team

sadenniston@mgs.vic.edu.au​, you are correct that the Canvas messaging system allows recipients to reply to a Canvas notification directly from their external email client. However, the process does not currently support attachments to those replies. If a user receives an email notification outside of Canvas, and attaches a file to the reply, the reply (whether the recipient views it in Canvas or in the email client via the outside notification) will not convey a file attachment if the file was appended outside of Canvas.

For the near term, those who use their email notifications to communicate outside of Canvas with other users should be advised to avoid replying from their email if they want to append file attachments of any sort. Like you, I couldn't find anything in the documentation about this--not even a brief description of how users can reply to notifications and have them populate the Canvas Inbox.

A request for the addition of this functionality will be opening in the next voting period, so please follow it for updates and give it your vote when it opens:

View solution in original post

9 Replies
Community Team
Community Team

sadenniston@mgs.vic.edu.au​, you are correct that the Canvas messaging system allows recipients to reply to a Canvas notification directly from their external email client. However, the process does not currently support attachments to those replies. If a user receives an email notification outside of Canvas, and attaches a file to the reply, the reply (whether the recipient views it in Canvas or in the email client via the outside notification) will not convey a file attachment if the file was appended outside of Canvas.

For the near term, those who use their email notifications to communicate outside of Canvas with other users should be advised to avoid replying from their email if they want to append file attachments of any sort. Like you, I couldn't find anything in the documentation about this--not even a brief description of how users can reply to notifications and have them populate the Canvas Inbox.

A request for the addition of this functionality will be opening in the next voting period, so please follow it for updates and give it your vote when it opens:

View solution in original post

Thank you for the reply Stephanie. It is helpful in that it answers the question for me.

Sigh. I'll have to send out a global "I know this is counterintuitive but in Canvas..." email. Even if the message bounced back with the warning "This could not be sent" would be better than it being sent with no indiction that an attachment hasn't gone through.

Find it puzzling that there is no reference to this anywhere. When the teacher alerted me to the problem I honestly thought our school firewall was stripping out the attachment or that I had missed a setting. To learn that it is expected behaviour is not what I was expecting.  I'm not sure this should be included as a feature request - it would seem that functionality is missing.

Thanks for the response.

sadenniston@mgs.vic.edu.au​ and kblack@dom.edu​, FWIW I've reached out to the Doc Team to ask about this apparent deficit in their otherwise incredibly comprehensive collection of help resources.

Thanks, Stefanie. We're currently finalizing a notification preferences lesson overhaul for tomorrow; notes are included about notification replies from external sources and non-support for attachments.

Erin

Hi sadenniston@mgs.vic.edu.au​...

A couple things I wanted to add to the conversation...

First, if the Guides are not clear that message attachments are not included when you reply to messages using e-mail clients like Outlook, you can always comment on the Canvas Guide, and the Documents Team will contact you.  I think what stefaniesanders​ has already stated here is good, so hopefully she will be hearing from them, too.  But, I did want to encourage you to also post your own comments under a Guide.

I'm not sure this should be included as a feature request - it would seem that functionality is missing.

In my opinion, if you and Stefanie get a response that no attachments back into Canvas messaging is the intended functionality, then this is all the more reason to create a Feature Idea.  Here are a couple links for you:

Canvas Feature Ideas

How do I create a new feature idea?

Hope this helps!

It will be helpful that the change is being made to the documentation. Chris, I agree that the ability to send attachments via reply to an email notification would be a feature request, but I'm loathe to include adding a warning on the email that attachments won't be sent as a feature request, because it isn't a feature - it's functionality that is counterintuitive as it is currently implemented. Stating in an e mail that "You can reply to this message in Canvas by replying directly to this email." does not imply that attachments are not included. I would like this stated on the email itself, which would clear up any confusion.

Hi sadenniston@mgs.vic.edu.au​...

Understood.  I think that it would be beneficial to post some of your feedback to this existing Feature Idea (which stefaniesanders​ has already given you a link for): .  The Feature Idea is still open for voting, and it is nearing the 100 vote mark...so I would encourage you to vote for this idea and post your comments there.  You can copy much of what you've provided here into a reply on that Feature Idea.  Basically, you're telling Instructure why this idea is important to you...so that they can take your thoughts into consideration.  Hope this helps, Sam.

Community Coach
Community Coach

Hello sadenniston@mgs.vic.edu.au​...

I recently tested this out with a co-worker (we are both admins for our Canvas instance).  We found that if you attach a file to an e-mail reply (outside of Canvas using something like Outlook), the attached file is not included when you check the message back in your "Inbox" (Conversations) of Canvas.  Here are a couple links I found for you:

(you'll be able to vote for this idea in early March)

Community Member

This is very helpful to know, because we have had a faculty  member complaining about this very thing!  And yes, there appears to be nothing in the documentation on it.  At the very least, Canvas should have some text in their messages that indicate this.  Thank you, stefaniesanders​ and chofer@morainepark.edu​ for shedding more light on this.