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Canvas Inbox Attachment Issues Continue

This post concerns a known issue when sending attachments within the Canvas Inbox (the email system within Canvas).

When an email is sent from the Canvas Inbox, a copy of the message is sent to the recipient’s Northwestern or personal email, depending on how the user has set their notification preferences in Canvas. Users can reply directly to this copy, and then replies are sent to the Canvas Inbox of the user, with a copy being forwarded to their Northwestern or personal email as well. This is shown in the diagram below.

However, there are some continuing issues with this process. First, if a file attachment is added to a message when the reply email is sent from a user’s Northwestern or personal email box, the message will not make it back into Canvas, nor will a copy go to the recipient’s email address on file. Additionally, an invalid email address from these messages may be stored as a contact in the responding user’s email box. Consequently, we do not recommend replying from your email box to copies of messages received from Canvas.

Solutions to this problem:

  • Only send and reply to messages from within the Canvas Inbox, not from copies of messages you may receive in your Northwestern or personal email. These copies should be treated as read-only. Inform your students that they should be using the tool in this manner as well to avoid situations arising where attached work isn’t received.
  • Use regular Northwestern email for all communications with students. Student email addresses are available in CAESAR.
  • When communicating with the entire class, use Announcements in your Canvas course.

We understand that these suggested actions may seem time-consuming or inconvenient. However, Instructure, the Canvas vendor, has had continued difficulties in resolving this bug, and we do not expect a resolution in the near future. We apologize for the inconvenience caused by this bug.


Image credit: 0Four – Junk Mails via flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)