Canvas ‘hacks’ to save you time and stress.

Let me first make it clear I’m not talking about software hacking, but about lifehacks. A lifehack is ‘a tip, trick, or efficient method for doing or managing a day-to-day task or activity’ (source:

This post will show you some tools and functions in Canvas that you may not have been aware of, which can save you time and stress.

See what’s what.

Sometimes we have so much information available to us we can’t find what we are looking for. In Canvas, most teaching staff use the Card View on their Dashboards. This option has some great little tools to help you make it easier to see what you are looking for.

Hiding/showing cards.

Not every module you have a current role on needs to be on your Dashboard. By using the ‘star’ icon in your list of Modules you can choose which cards appear on your dashboard. So you can keep your teaching modules where you see them first, and others where you might have less involvement (as moderator, for example), can stay in the Modules list.

List of modules, some with orange star icon and some with white star icon.

Rearranging cards.

Even within the collection of cards you want on your Dashboard there are likely to be some you use more often than others. You can rearrange the cards on your Dashboard into any order you prefer, so the ones at the top can be the ones you access most often.

You can move cards by dragging and dropping, or by using the Move options under the 3 dots on each card.

'Move' tab within 3 dots at top of a module card. Options to move up or down.


If you have several cards with the same or similar names (such as undergraduate and postgraduate versions) you can add a Nickname that only you will see to help identify them. The real name of the module will still appear underneath your chosen Nickname.

2 screenshots, first showing the box to add a nickname and second, where the chosen nickname will appear on the module card.


Some people like to use colours to distinguish between things. Whilst not something we would advocate generally, as it is not accessible, here we are talking about things only you will see. So if it helps you, go ahead and use the card colour option to change the colour of the dot, the title, and if there’s no module image, the colour of the card itself.

Colour tab under 3 dots on module card, with grid of colours to select

There is also an option to have a colour overlay on all the cards on your Dashboard. This is on by default, but if you don’t need it, you can turn it off from the 3 dots at the top of the Dashboard. This will generally make your Dashboard look brighter and card images clearer.

Dashboard showing card with overlay colour and setting to change this under 3 dots at top of Dashboard.

For these and more options to personalise your Dashboard see the Canvas Guide (please note, Canvas uses the term Courses for what we call Modules).

Turn back time.

We all make mistakes from time to time, and Canvas gives you a couple of options for undoing them.

Page History

When you are editing a Page it is easy to accidentally delete something important, or maybe you changed your mind about some changes. As an editor you have the option to view all the previous versions of a Page (please note this only applies to Pages, not other types of content). You can select a version to look at it and then click on Restore this revision to make it the current version.

2 screenshots, first showing View Page History option under 3 dots next to Edit button on a Page. Second showing list of versions with option to Restore a version

Because you have this tool available it’s a good idea to Save often while making big changes to a Page so if you do need to go back, you won’t lose too much progress.


If you accidentally delete an item from your Canvas site it is probably not gone for good. If you type /undelete at the end of the site’s URL (so if your module URL was it would become you will see Assignments, Quizzes, Announcements, Pages, Units and more that has been deleted from the site. To restore something just click the Restore button – disaster averted!

Details of a page that has been deleted with a button to 'restore'

As always, if you want any help with these tools, please contact your Learning Technologist via

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  1. […] The platform had changed, but the impetus to design sites in a way that makes them easy to use by students and with activities to engage them remained central so my posts addressed  topics such as: Making use of announcements, getting ready for the next academic year and Managing online activities with Canvas Sections and Groups. Canvas continues to be an important topic for the blog and my most recent post was latest was Canvas ‘hacks’ to save you time and stress. […]

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