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Canvas Release: New Rich Content Editor (2020-01-18)

Canvas Release: New Rich Content Editor (2020-01-18)

This document introduces the New Rich Content Editor as noted in the Canvas Release Notes (2020-01-18) 

For additional feature updates, please refer to the Rich Content Editor release notes entries.

The New Rich Content Editor enhances the content creation experience in Canvas.

Feature/Integration Setup

Feature Options

The New Rich Content Editor involves the RCE Enhancements feature option, which can be allowed on a course-by-course basis or turned on for all courses across the entire account. By default, this feature option is set to Off. Canvas admins can manage this feature option in Account Settings.

Account Management


The Rich Content Editor displays content inherent to each user role.

Users will view both course and user files in the Rich Content Editor if they have the Course Files - add / edit / delete permission enabled. 

Users without this permission only view their own user documents.

Course Setup

Feature Options

If the RCE Enhancements feature option is not already turned on for the entire account, instructors can enable the RCE Enhancements feature option in Course Settings.

Course-Level Features

Rich Content Editor UI Overview

The toolbar includes a condensed, more intuitive look. Toolbar menus are grouped by common icons and interactions.

The following enhancements are included with this feature update:

  • The Rich Content Editor expands to the full width of the browser
  • The toolbar includes a condensed, more intuitive look
  • Toolbar menus are grouped by common icons and interactions
  • The content sidebar only displays when linking to other parts of Canvas, accessing Canvas files, or accessing uploaded media
  • Image and media additions include drag and drop; images include an Unsplash search and content auto-scaling
  • The Keyboard shortcut, Accessibility Checker, and HTML Editor icons have moved to the bottom of the editor next to the word count. Additionally, the Rich Content Editor window can be resized using the Move handle below the window.

New Rich Content Editor

If the browser isn’t expanded to fit the full width of the toolbar, the toolbar displays an Options menu that includes the remaining toolbar items.

If you’ve selected an item within a menu, the menu displays an arrow indicating the location of the most recent active item.


Paragraph Formatting

The font size and paragraph menus have been moved to the first section of the tool bar.

New Paragraph and Formatting Menu

Text Formatting

The text formatting options have been retained grouped together, in addition to the subscript and superscript options. When a subscript or superscript is selected, an arrow displays above the selected option.

New styling options in the Rich Content Editor

Page Formatting

The text alignment options have been consolidated into a single menu. Additionally, the Rich Content Editor includes a consolidated bullet and numbering menu with additional bullet display options. 

This toolbar section also includes options for increasing and decreasing indents and paragraph spaces.

New formatting options in the Rich Content Editor



The Links menu includes link options for external links and links within a course.


External links include an option for the name of the link and the link URL.

New Rich Content Editor Insert Link Window

Course links display from a sidebar and allow the user to select a link from a page, assignment, quiz, announcement, discussion, module, or course navigation link.

Sidebar links for pages


Images can be uploaded from a computer, added from course files (with permission), or added from images in the User Files folder.

Images Menu

Uploaded Images

Uploaded images can be uploaded via drag and drop or by browsing the computer. The option to select images via Flickr has been replaced with Unsplash. Additionally, images can be uploaded via URL.

Uploads and URL entries display previews in the upload window, which helps confirm if the correct image has been selected.


Once the image has been inserted into the Rich Content Editor, the image also displays as a preview in the Rich Content Editor. Image options can be modified by clicking the image and selecting the Options button. The sidebar provides alt text options, display options, and allows the image size to be selected. By default, the Alt Text is the name of the image.



  • In Display Options, images are embedded by default. If the image is changed to the Display Text Link option, the image cannot be changed back to being embedded unless the image is removed and re-added. 
  • Uploaded images via computer are added to the course folder by default; however, if a user doesn’t have access to the course files folder, uploaded images are added to the User Files folder. 
  • Uploaded images may take a few moments to fully render and display in the Rich Content Editor window.

Course Files/User Files

Files can be added from course files (with permission) or the User Files folder. In both Course and User files, the Images folder is displayed by default. However, users can choose to view all files, which displays the complete files structure in the course.

Images previously uploaded to course files or the user’s files can be previewed in the sidebar before they are added to the Rich Content Editor.

Course Files view with Images and All Folder view with files tree


Media can be uploaded from a computer or recorded, uploaded from course files (with permission), or uploaded from the My Files folder.

Media Menu

Uploaded Media

Uploaded media can be uploaded via drag and drop or by browsing the computer. Once selected, the video displays a preview in the upload window, which helps confirm if the correct video has been selected.

Media Upload window

Media Upload Preview


Subtitles can also be added to uploaded videos with the Add CC/Subtitles checkbox.

Subtitles checkbox in Rich Content Editor

When selected, the window includes the option to select the language for the subtitles and a button to select the subtitle file. Subtitle files must be created in advance, either through Amara or another subtitling tool.

Accepted file types include SRT and VTT files. Files can be deleted if needed and re-uploaded.

Uploading caption files in the Rich Content Editor

Once the media has been inserted into the Rich Content Editor and fully uploaded, media also displays as a preview in the Rich Content Editor.

Note: Uploaded media may take a few moments to fully render and display in the Rich Content Editor window. Until the video is uploaded, the Rich Content Editor displays a gray box as a placeholder.


Video Options

Options for uploaded videos can be viewed by clicking the video and clicking the Options button. The Title field defaults to the name of the title.

The Options menu allows a user to update the title, display options, and size. By default, uploaded videos are embedded by default and set as a large video. Sizes are as follows:

  • Medium: 320x181px 
  • Large: 400x226px
  • Extra Large: 640x361px
  • Custom: aspect ratio is preserved 

Video Options

Note: The Display Text Link option will be available for testing in the beta environment on January 2.

Recorded Media

Media content can be recorded directly in the Rich Content Editor. Users must allow permission for their computer to access their microphone and webcam. If a user has more than one microphone and/or webcam, the intended microphone and/or webcam can be selected by clicking the button for the desired medium. Recorded media can be previewed before being saved to the Rich Content Editor.


Once the media has been inserted into the Rich Content Editor and fully uploaded, media also displays as a preview in the Rich Content Editor.

Note: Recorded media may take a few moments to fully render and display in the Rich Content Editor window. Until the video is rendered, the Rich Content Editor displays a gray box as a placeholder.


Embedded Media

Embedded media can be added via embed code. 

Embed Media Window

Once added, the embedded content displays as a preview in the Rich Content Editor.

Embedded video preview in the Rich Content Editor

Course Media/User Media

Media content can be added from course files (with permission) or the User Media Files folder. In both Course and User files, the Images folder is displayed by default. However, users can choose to view all files, which displays the complete files structure in the course.

Media files previously uploaded to course files or the user’s files can be previewed in the sidebar before they are added to the Rich Content Editor.

Course Files view with Media and All Folder view with files tree


Documents can be uploaded from a computer, added from course files (with permission), or added from the My Files folder. 

Documents Menu

Uploaded Documents

Uploaded document files can be uploaded via drag and drop or by browsing the computer. Selected documents cannot be previewed in the upload window. 

Uploaded files are added to the course folder by default; however, if a user doesn’t have access to the course files folder, uploaded files are added to the user’s My Files folder.


Once the name of the file displays in the Rich Content Editor, file options can be modified by clicking the file name and selecting the Options button. The sidebar provides the file name field, link URL, and display options, which can default to collapsed or expanded.


Course Documents/User Documents

Documents can be added from course files (with permission) or the User Documents Files folder. In both Course and User files, the Images folder is displayed by default. However, users can choose to view all files, which displays the complete files structure in the course.

Unlike other file types, documents cannot be previewed in the sidebar before being added to the Rich Content Editor.

Course Files view with Documents and All Folder view with files tree


External apps are located within the Apps icon and are displayed in alphabetical order. The App window includes a Search field, which allows a user to search for and add an app. The selected app displays its content from the page sidebar or a standalone window. 

App Window

Apps must be previously installed in the account or course to display in the Rich Content Editor Plugin page.

If Commons is installed as an LTI tool, Commons favorites can also be added from the Rich Content Editor.

Community Resources

Future Enhancements

This document outlines existing functionality included in the initial release of this feature. The Rich Content Editor will continue to receive additional feature enhancements over future releases as indicated in Canvas Release Notes. Please follow the release notes for future functionality updates, which will be indicated by the rich content editor tag.

Customer Feedback

Community feedback for the Rich Content Editor is welcome per Canvas Community Feedback Guidelines, which outlines general feedback, broken functionality, and feature enhancements.


For the Rich Content Editor, feature enhancements should include the rich content editor tag. Before submitting a new idea, please review all existing Rich Content Editor feature ideas.

User Group

Feedback is also welcome in the Assignment Workflow Improvements User Group.

Feature Documentation

New documentation for this feature will be available on 2020-01-18 in the Canvas Guides

When lessons are available, comments are welcome for functionality clarification. Lessons will also be updated with all future enhancements as indicated in release notes.

Labels (1)

I like that all of our LTIs have been moved under a new "plug-in" icon rather than a couple displayed on the RCE and the rest hidden behind a blue arrow.  Thank you for listing them in alphabetical order!  Much easier to find!

Will the new RCE allow possible future developments for embedding of Office365 documents in pages?

At what stage will we see this rolled out across other areas eg Discussions, Assignments etc?‌  from memory that was a limitation on the Office365 side of things and not Canvas, but it would be great if that changed.

Interesting, first I have heard. I wonder if this is also the case in other learning platforms; Moodle, Firefly, Blackboard etc.

One other thing I noticed that seems out of place is the remove formatting option. Why is it not with all the text functions? It seems out of place in the editor. 

New Rich Content Editor screen

So I just tried the Alt+F9 trick in the New RCE to bring up the hidden text-based menu:

New RCE Hidden Menu

We have fonts to choose from?  That's new.  And, I was able to save the page, and Comics Sans remained on the screen.

Font Choices in NEW RCE

What are the chances of having the hidden text-based menu visible at all times rather than always hidden?  Pros or cons of this?

Oh yeah, I had forgotten about the ALT+F9 menu. I think I like having it visible all times, now that my screen is clear from the content selector, it's nice to have that menu there to remind me that I'm in an editor.

Looks like that menu is still in flux though as I found several repeated entries under other entries. For example:

  • Insert > Table  and Table
  • Format > Formats > Blocks and Format > Block
    Repeated entries in Format menu

But what I'm most curious is the View > Visual Aids... What goodies could these hold in store! :smileygrin: I'm excited to see what else comes about in this menu bar.

Cheers - Shar

I'm really hoping there is a way to replace the Canvas media icon to point to our media solution of choice of the vendor - for us that is Kaltura, but it could also be Canvas Studio, Platform or another tool. With the current RCE‌ was able to use some custom JS and CSS to remove the default Canvas media functionality and replace the Canvas video icon with an icon that goes to our tool of choice.‌ has submitted this as a feature request at

Looking good so far!

It would be lovely if the image options menu allowed us to indicate whether the embedded image should have the text flow around it (and if so, will it float on the left or on the right... and also, the float tags should automatically come with a margin, so the text doesn't bump into the image.) This is something I see a lot of people needing to do. It's really basic in the HTML, but of course, most instructors don't know HTML.

Hi all,

Loving all the suggestions in here - so you'll have to excuse all the notifications of me liking everything!

Is there work being done to include a header (yes, header this time) for tables? Currently as it stands, we aren't meeting the WCAG standards for accessibility when using tables as there is no way to identify any headers in the table properties.

I stand corrected - I acknowledge that you can do this, but it is hidden and not easily visible for staff to see and therefore complete. 

I spoke to the Microsoft product manager and they are looking to address the embed of office files. They recognize this is on their end and not canvas. No ETA but it’s on their radar so hopefully soon-ish?

Great news, thanks for sharing

Having File-->New Document there is ... alarming if you click on it after working on a page for an hour. 

I agree heartedly with the padding around the image. Easy enough to do if you know HTML, but so would bold, italicize, links, etc.‌, the quick way I've found to have text flow around an image is by clicking on the image and clicking either right or left justify. This works in either RCE editor. Doesn't solve the padding issue, but it'll get you flowing text.

In my beta, captioning is only an option for previously recorded video. What would be a game-changer for us would be captions for videos recorded IN canvas, as with an announcement or something. Our commitment to having fully accessible videos was re-affirmed by the recent Dominoes case. It's really hard to walk an instructor through our current process of putting a video in an announcement and then having it captioned. Giving them a button right there to push would be epic. 

I completely agree, Katie. I'm actually perplexed about why Canvas hasn't done this. We just paid for Studio, which has inline editing, so we know Canvas knows how to do this, and that Canvas knows why it is important and required by the law...the same video recorder and editor should be available for all media. It doesn't make any sense at all to have two different media platforms within Canvas, especially when one is not aligned to WCAG 2.0...

Thanks for the alert about the feature request--I just voted!‌, I think it may be because when you send video off for captioning in Studio, I believe it goes to an Amazon AI service: Amazon Transcribe.Edit: It looks like Instructure partnered with Speechmatics for captioning. If that's the case, each text to speech request likely incurs some type of a charge for Instructure. Studio customers get captioning service baked in because the cost of the studio license covers this small fee to convert the speech to text.

What would be nice is if schools who didn't have studio wanted to pay for captioning via this same service. I don't see why that couldn't be part of a school contract. All Canvas would have to do is have a slider for your CSM to toggle: School paid for video captions: Yes | No. If yes, use the same caption service as studio. Makes sense to me!


Is there a reason you believe it's Amazon's Transcribe? In November 2017, Instructure announced they were partnering with Speechmatics and Speechmatics has a case study for Instructure on their website. I haven't seen anything since then that suggested otherwise, but I haven't been following everything going on that closely. Instructure uses Amazon for a lot of other things, and the information I'm finding is a couple of years old, so they could have switched. If you have updated information, please share.

None of that changes the main take-away from your message, I was just wondering why you thought it was Amazon Transcribe?

While using the RCE enhancement in BETA, I couldn’t figure out how to disable inline previews for youtube links.  That option is available in the current RCE (see image below). 


Other than finding and adding class=" inline_disabled" code in HTML, how are we able to turn that automatic feature off for youtube links?   This will be important to know because students and faculty aren’t familiar with HTML and won’t know how to properly work in the HTML editor.  Plus, it will take extra time to have to edit in the HTML editor to fix. 


Thanks for sharing about the partnership with Speechmatics. I had not seen that before now. I will edit my response to include this as the likely provider. My original guess was with amazon since they already do so much with them. This case study is more official! 

Wow, what is the purpose of New Document? Select all and delete does the same thing and is a much more intentional act than clicking New Document out of curiosity.

My 2 cents is that I was completely unaware of the Alt+F9 tip until I saw the comments above about it. There's functionality in that menu that isn't in the featured icons (ex. font selections). Is there a way to lock that so it's always on, or have a switch in the tool bar to open that row? Teachers who aren't using those editing tools daily are likely to forget how to bring them back up when needed, or just not read instructions. and

I've never figured out what "New Document" is, either.  It's not new, however.  In the current RCE, if you use the keyboard combination Alt+F9 to bring up the hidden text-based menu, you'll find it by going to "File" >> "New document".

I was also unaware of the ALT-F9 thing, but I've just had a go at it and it's great. I echo‌ comments about this being more widely available. Also as Audra mentions it would be good to include folders! 

I've just figured out what 'new document' does :smileyshocked:, thanks for the heads up!

Yeah, my point about New Document was in reference to the suggestion that Alt+F9 menu be up all the time. If that additional toolbar is always available rather than hiding behind the Alt + F9, there will probably be some people who click on things in there without really knowing what they are, including and alarmingly, New Document. 

I'm not sure if it's due to my keyboard shortcut settings or because I'm running Linux, but I can't get the Alt+F9 menu to come up for me - and as far as I'm aware, there really is nowhere to click to access it, correct?

Based on this document, Canvas Keyboard Shortcuts PDF, I would say ... no (???).  😞

Hi, Gideon,

Apologies for the delay to your question. The New Rich Content Editor is enabled in any Canvas area that already supports the editor. Quizzes Next uses a separate editor, so the feature option won't apply.



Have just been playing with the new RCE in BETA and running into a few annoyances.Namely a few include:

  • I cant put an internal link on an image. When I try to add a link to an image such as a button it removes the image with the link title.
  • The right bar disappears each time I insert an image which is really annoying. It would be great if it stayed there till I close it so I can insert multiple images at a time. This is the same for links to pages/documents etc. As a course designer being able to use the right side bar and insert content/links so quickly is something that I've always loved about the current RCE. Having that bar disappear every time you insert something is going to really slow me down.
  • My institution has Usage rights enabled for files. When I upload a file or image from the new RCE I no longer have the option to add the copyright information meaning users will need to leave the page and go to files to add this additional information. Again slowing me down!
  • The size of the RCE when you first got to edit mode is ridiculously small. If you click in the RCE it doesn't automatically expand but if you enter or type it does. Why not just be automatically expanded or at least expand when you click in the RCE. Will get annoying for people if they have to continually drag the RCE to size every time they edit the page.
  • The insert/embed media icon is no longer an option but I noticed it's available if you choose to Alt+F9 for the additional tools. Why not just have these tools always available instead of forcing people to use Alt+F9?
  • When you want to add a Plug-in/App such as YouTube the cursor feedback implies that you click on the grey area which when you do nothing happens other than expanding the description. You get no cursor feedback when you roll over say YouTube which is actually what you need to do to search for a video? This will confuse a lot of people.
  • Losing the folder structure when adding links to files will make it incredibly hard for users with hundreds of files in their courses. I do like that you have the filtering options (alphabetical, date added etc) which will alleviate some of that issue.
  • As a course designer being able to build your page structure quickly from the home page was a nice feature (creating new pages directly in the RCE) this seems to be no longer available. Can live with this one but a bit sad about it Smiley Happy
  • I seem to have lost the ability to inline preview a document. Perhaps this is just a BETA thing, I'm not sure but even when I've selected to automatically open an in-line preview from the link options it's not working.
  • From the Insert link panel it would be nice to be able to link to an item within a module. Currently you can only link to a module which takes you to the whole Module list. It would also be nice if you do link to a module if it automatically minimised all modules but the one you clicked through to. I realise this isnt in the current RCE just thought i'd throw that one in Smiley Wink 


Love that Canvas is continually evolving and improving just feel like some of the new features are in fact slowing me down not making me more efficient.


In the k-10 space we use buttons (images) all the time to show students where to go next.  

If I try this in the new RCE the image is just replaced with the link.

Being able to use images is especially useful for out early readers using Canvas.

We are trying to encourage teachers in the early years to use the great features in Canvas and being able to give students visual clues rather than have to read is important.

Also having to alt F9 to get a hidden menu will cause  confusion to many of our teachers!


Thanks‌, so many good (or bad) things in this list. I hadn't noticed the Image-as-links issue and as Isobel Williams mentioned, that's used quite a bit in the K-12 world. To piggy-back on your comments regarding the file selector closing each time, one of our trainers brought up frustration with the current RCE in that there's no way to stay in a nest folder when you link sequential items on your page. He was posting multiple images onto pages and had to navigate through his file structure each time to the same folder. This isn't a lost feature, so I guess it's more of a feature request to be able to stay focused on the same folder when you're actively working on a page. Of course right now, when you add images in the new RCE, there's no folder structure to navigate. . .


Embed Feature Issue

The hidden menu (Alt+F9 ) to embed images isn't exactly user-friendly to students/teachers. 

Hiding this popular feature seems counter-intuitive with the rce enhancement‌

Embedding is something I've seen frequently utilized by course instructors; they like to use the embed feature in combination with webtools and other sites. 

There is another comment in a different post also flagging this same hidden menu issue (see post

Table/Image Advanced Properties Issue

Table advanced properties option for Border Styles is a limiting dropdown list, without options to customize the html.   

Though the option to edit the code in the full HTML is still available, the ability to change the table's properties from this menu is easier and targeted-rather than having to search/edit within the code.


Example of Advanced Table Properties Issue

Current RCE

current RCE with customizable html


RCE Enhancement

RCE Enhancement limiting drop down list


canvas releases‌ new rce‌ rce accessibility‌ restore rce content‌

Priority: RCERelease Notes: Canvas LMSUser Group: Assignment Workflow Improvements (NEW) Rich Content Editor EnhancementsCanvas User Engagement

Hi Erin Hallmark

I'm sorry for the delay because I meant to ask this a few weeks ago. If New Quizzes isn't using the same RCE, then is there a plan to every merge the two so that they are the same? Won't having two versions cause confusion?

I'm curious if there is a technical reason for the new quizzes not to use the new RCE. 

Thank you!

For the embed feature to be truly functional the embedded image needs to be copied with the course.  What I've found using the old system is that embedded images often remain linked to the course they were first embedded in.  That means only users with permission to view the first course (teachers) actually see an image in the copied course.  Everyone else see's only the alt-text.

It feels very unnatural for the option to embed a Studio video to be through the app option at the very end of the RCE. Surely this should be grouped in the media options available rather than hidden away?

A lot of our instructors won't understand that Studio is a separate app and therefore it won't be intuitive at all for our instructors to look there.

Hi Tom

I agree with you. In the current editor the studio option is buried in the drop down menu for the V icon. Check out this feature idea. 

Studio icon/option should replace the native media RCE option

Hi! Apologies for the late reply here. This release is the first iteration of the New Rich Content Editor. Other enhancements can be added in future releases. Please ensure these requests have been noted in our Ideas space so our product team is aware of the use case.



Hey, Steven,

I just checked course copy and embedded images are retained. Smiley Happy



Hi, Tom,

Our product team is exploring ways to improve this functionality. Stay tuned!



Hi, Tina,

Several of these concerns have been resolved by our product team since we updated this content at the end of December. If something is still missing, please ensure a feature idea has been created in our Ideas space, as that's the best place for our product team to keep track of requests (if one doesn't already exist).

Thanks for playing with the new RCE!


Hi Erin, that's great, thank you for following up Smiley Happy

Cheers, Tina.

erinhallmark In testing the latest version in Beta, I see that when adding a file from the course fies, the files are still not organised by folder. This would be a huge headache in a live course with hundreds of files. I consider this a lack of feature parity. Can you let us know if the product team is working on this part of the RCE still?


If you click on the "Links" icon and then select "Course Links", a fly-out menu will appear.


From the drop-down menu at the top of the fly-out menu, you should be able to select either "Course Files" or "User Files".  The folder structure should show up in this view.

Hi Thank you for pointing that out. It is not at all obvious that one needs to go through 'Links' when there is a button called 'Documents'... Furthermore this takes so many more clicks than the existing process - it takes me 6 clicks just to get to a list of folders, whereas in the current system it takes one.

  • [three dots menu icon]
  • Links menu icon
  • Course Links option
  • Links drop down option
  • Course files drop down option
  • Course files folder

We use a lot of files in our courses, and this is going to significantly slow us down when building pages. This just makes it even clearer to me that this is not a wholesale 'improvement'.

We have turned on the RCE to take advantage of the drag and drop.  I had a teacher ask me where the file folder structure went when he is looking to link a document in his course files.  The new sidebar shows all the documents, but none of the file structure in the Files.  As a workaround, we've realized we have to go into Files first and locate and note the name of the file in the folder and then return to the assignment to link to that folder.  It used to be easier to navigate the folder hierarchies.  Any chance of adding the folder structure into that list of files under Upload?

Hi, Vi,

Anything is possible. Smiley Happy The way to get that request on our product team's radar is to add your idea to our Ideas space so others can add their use cases and vote.


Erin‌, the instructor can see the folder structure when they change the dropdown in the Add modal from Images (which I believe is the default) to All. It's depicted in the right side of the screenshot that displays in the Course Documents/User Documents section of this document.

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