Canvas - Troubleshooting Canvas (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 Support on any Canvas screen).

The Canvas Student Guide has full instructions on using Canvas. These instructions are specific to Virginia Tech.



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.

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I'm Missing a Canvas Course Site

  1. Check the All Courses menu by clicking Courses -> All Courses to see if your course is there. 
  2. Make sure your course gets a Canvas site. If your course doesn't get an official Canvas site, your instructor may create a draft/manual course site. Check with your instructors if you have questions about this. Per department request, the following courses don't get Canvas sites: 
    • 5904 and 6904 (graduate project and report) courses
    • 5964, 6864, 7864, 7944, X974 (independent study) courses
    • X994 (undergraduate research) courses
    • VTC, VCOM, and REG courses
  3. Check your Registration and Schedule on HokieSPA to make sure you're enrolled in the course. 
    • If you recently added a course, wait a half day for it to appear in Canvas. 
    • If you're missing all of your courses, see I'm Missing All My Course Sites.
  4. If you still don't see the site, contact 4Help by clicking Get Help on the 4Help portal.

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I'm Missing All My Canvas Course Sites

Blocks and holds cause you to lose all your Canvas sites for the current semester. 

Bursar Block

To check for a bursar block, see: Registration Holds. Courses should reappear within a half day of clearing the block. 

COVID-19 and Other Holds 

To check for a hold: 

  1. Log in to Hokie SPA.
  2. Click the HokieSPA tab. 
  3. Click Registration (Add/Drop) and Schedule
  4. Click Prepare for Registration
  5. Choose the current term. 
  6. Under Registration Status is a checklist of requirements for registration. Holds will appear at the bottom of the checklist. 
  • If you have a COVID-19 hold, go to the COVID-19 Canvas site and follow the instructions. The site will be on your Courses menu. 
  • If you have another type of hold, contact your academic advisor. 

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I'm Unable to View a Future Enrollment Site

Official Canvas sites, with some exceptions listed in I'm Missing a Canvas Course Site, will show up in the Future Enrollments section of All Courses if the term has not yet started.

Virginia Tech will create Canvas sites around these dates for teachers to develop content:

  • Fall semester:                     June 15
  • Winter semester:                November 1
  • Spring semester:                December 1
  • Summer (all semesters):     March 15

Even though the sites exist a few weeks before the semester starts, you won't be able to access them until closer to the first day of the semester because: 

  • Sites have a default start date a week before the first day of a new semester.
  • Sites are set up to restrict students to view the course before the start date.
  • Sites must be published before you can access them.

If you do not see your site, check that both conditions below are true:

  1. Your instructor has published the site. Unpublished sites will remain inaccessible, even if the term has started.
  2. The start date for the course has passed. Keep in mind that teachers have the ability to change the start date of a site if they want to release content sooner or later.

If you want access to the site sooner, you'll need to email your instructor to ask if they would update the site's start date or uncheck the box Restrict students from viewing the course before the start date.

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Course Files Ran out of Storage

Do not use Canvas Files to store videos and audio files. Instead, use My Media and Media Gallery, which have unlimited storage. See Video Content Management - How to Use My Media and Media Gallery (for Students)

To request more storage space for non-video/audio content, contact 4Help by clicking Get Help on the 4Help portal.

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Troubleshooting Respondus

Respondus Freezes
  1. Shut down the computer.
    1. First, turn the computer completely off.
      • Many computers go into suspension or sleep mode when you press the power button, so press and hold the power button for five to ten seconds to force the computer to shut down. Usually there is a small "chirp", "click", or "beep" when the computer powers down.
    2. Use the following steps to restore default settings after shutting down the computer.
      • Please do not attempt to remove Respondus or perform any other restore methods before doing the following steps.
  2. Restore settings on computer
    • To restore the default settings* on a Windows computer:
      1. Start the computer from a powered down state (not suspension or sleep).
      2. Start LockDown Browser.
      3. Immediately quit LockDown Browser.
      4. Log out of the Windows user account (do not use Windows Restart).
      5. Log back into the Windows user account.
    • To restore the default settings* on a Mac OS computer:
      1. Start the system from a powered down state (not suspension or sleep).
      2. Start LockDown Browser.
      3. Immediately quit LockDown Browser.
  3. After you have restored to default settings, please start the LockDown Browser and log back in to Canvas to continue your test.

* Note: Restoring the default settings is important after a forced shut down, because LockDown Browser temporarily alters your computer to prevent cheating. Unless you restore default settings, they might remain altered after you restart the computer.

Chat with Respondus Monitor Support

Respondus Monitor has built in 24/7 live chat. You can use chat while getting ready to take an exam. To access chat: 

  1. When something goes wrong in a step, click It's not working.
  2. Click Need More Help? in the pop-up.
  3. Go through the troubleshooter; then the live chat will open.
Webcam Problems

Consult Respondus documentation: 

If you have a new webcam:

  • Reinstall Respondus Lockdown Browser. 

If you don't have enough bandwidth to run a webcam or if you don't have a webcam:

  • Contact your instructor to discuss testing options.
Laptop Overheating (Webcams Contribute)
  • Do not place the laptop on your lap.
  • Straddle the laptop across two books so air flows underneath. 
  • Use a fan to blow over and under the laptop.   
  • Use a laptop cooling pad.
Small Screen with Respondus Quiz

If your screen is small after entering a Respondus quiz, then your resolution settings are too high. While your quiz will still run without any changes, we recommend lowering your resolution.

  • For 4k displays:
    • Resolution: 3840 x 2160
    • Scale: 200%
  • For non-4k displays:
    • Resolution: 1920 x 1080
    • Scale: 100-125%

Instructions for changing the resolution:

Can't Take a Respondus Quiz

Please note that LockDown Browser can be used with Windows 10+, Mac 10.13+, Chromebook, and iPads running iOS 11+ (the iPad setting must be enabled by the instructor). LockDown Browser will cease to work on Windows 7 computers on June 28, 2023. Students using Windows 7 will need to upgrade to Windows 10/11 or find another device that is supported. Follow the instructions for Taking a quiz with Respondus.

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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:

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Getting Help

For instructions on resolving common issues with Canvas, see:

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:

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