Canvas - Using Your Account (for Students)


Canvas is Virginia Tech's learning management system (LMS). Students use Canvas to access learning materials, like assignments, quizzes, feedback, and grades.

  • Official courses are automatically created in students' Canvas accounts.
  • Canvas provides 24-7 support by phone (833-639-7621) and chat (click Help on any Canvas screen).

The Canvas Student Guide has full instructions on using Canvas. These instructions are specific to Virginia Tech. To see other Canvas topics, please see How to Use Canvas at Virginia Tech (for Students).


Top of page


Editing Your Canvas Profile

You can change your profile picture, set your notification preferences, and store personal files. To access them:  

  1. Log into Canvas.
  2. Click Account on the leftmost Global Navigation Menu.
  3. On the popup menu, click an account area to manage.

To edit your profile, see How do I edit my profile in my user account as a student?

Top of page

Setting Notification Preferences

Canvas Default Email Address

Canvas, by default, will send you an email at your Virginia Tech preferred email address, which is either your or an email alias. If you change your preferred email address for Virginia Tech, Canvas will update within one day.

To change your default Canvas email address, see How do I change my default email address in my user account as a student?

Top of page

Notification Triggers

Students are responsible for receiving instructor notifications. Changing notification preferences can interfere with that responsibility. 

Top of page

Using Canvas Files

There are two areas in Canvas to store data:

Store text-based resources and images in Canvas Files. Store multi-media resources in My Media. See Video Content Management - How to Use My Media and Media Gallery (for Students).

Uploading Files

Do not upload large media files to Canvas Files. Instead, use the My Media tool. See: Video Content Management - How to Use My Media and Media Gallery (for Students).

To upload files to Canvas, see: 

Top of page

Downloading Files

To download a single file, see How do I download a single file as a student?

To download files in bulk from Canvas, all the files must be in a sub-folder. You cannot download the top-level folder.

  1. In the Global Navigation Menu, click Account, then Files.

    Image of the above instructions

  2. Open the folder containing the sub-folder you want to download.
  3. Click the three dots next to the sub-folder you are downloading.
  4. Click Download.

    Image of the above instructions

  5. Canvas will prepare the download. Progress is shown at the top of the screen.
  6. When preparations are complete, the files are downloaded as a zip file.

Top of page

Sending Email

Use Canvas Conversations to send messages. Conversations is called Inbox in the Global Navigation Menu. It is not accessible on Course Navigation Menus.  

To start a conversation:

  1. Click Inbox in the Global Navigation Menu.
  2. Click the pencil icon near the top-right corner to compose a new message.
  3. Choose a Course from the drop-down.
  4. Choose who you want to send the message to.
    1. The address book will vary by the assigned roles in the course
    2. Click the address book icon to the right to choose All or a type of role. 
  5. Type a Subject and compose your message.
  6. Click Send

By default, you will receive an email whenever you get a new Conversation message. To change notification preferences, see How do I manage my Canvas notification preferences as a student?

Top of page


Canvas Is the Wrong Color

If Canvas is not Virginia Tech's maroon and orange, the High Contrast UI might be enabled. The High Contrast UI can also prevent some Canvas tools from appearing. To disable the high contrast UI:

  1. Log into Canvas.
  2. Click Account, then Settings.
  3. Scroll down to Feature Options.
  4. Below Feature Options and next to High Contrast UI, click the checkmark, then click disable to turn off High Contrast UI.

    Image of the above instructions

  5. Refresh your browser.

Top of page

Script Blocker Problems

Canvas uses JavaScript. However, browser security settings or security suite software increasingly block JavaScript by default. If JavaScript is blocked, Canvas will not appear and function correctly, for example: 

  • The Canvas Dashboard shows flashing courses.
  • Clicking Help and Courses do not show the menus.
  • Clicking AssignmentsAnnouncements, Discussions, Grades go to a blank page.
  • The +Guests button doesn't appear in People.
  • Videos in Files don't automatically play.
  • SPOT doesn't appear on menus.
  • Kaltura videos won't play.
  • Instructors can't add files to Canvas. 
  • Students can't upload files to Assignments.

To fix browser and script blocker problems:

  1. Check/update your browser. We recommend using an updated version of Google Chrome. 
    1. Click [...] in the upper-right corner of your browser.
    2. Click Help->About Google Chrome.
    3. An automatic update may start. When it finishes, click Relaunch.
    4. To update, see Update Google Chrome.
  2. Check the Canvas URL.
    1. Click your Canvas bookmark in Chrome. Make sure it links to, not the Instructure URL. If it links to the Instructure URL, update it to link to
    2. If tools are malfunctioning in Canvas, check and make sure the URL is If not, go to
  3. Bypass/clear your browser's cache.
    1. To bypass the cache, go to the Canvas page where you should see the link to the LTI tool. Hold the Shift key while clicking the browser's refresh button.
    2. To clear the cache, see Clearing Browser Cache.
  4. Whitelist Canvas URLs in your script blocker; set your script blocker to allow JavaScript from Canvas and related URLs. 
    1. Go to your script blocker's settings for trusting/allowing/unblocking/whitelisting websites. Instructions for common script blockers:
    2. Set your script blocker to trust/allow/unblock/whitelist the following Canvas-related URLs:

Top of page

Getting Help

Instructure, the creators of Canvas, provide 24-7 Canvas support, including live chat and a support hotline. 

To get Canvas help, click Help on any Canvas screen and choose from help options:

Top of page