Need to compress your files?

You may be asked to make sure that the files you submit to Canvas are less than 500MB. The instructions below describe how to compress your PDF and PPTX (PowerPoint) files.

Compressing PDF files

You can compress PDF files using Adobe Acrobat DC, which you have access to as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud package. To learn more about accessing the Adobe Creative Cloud package, please visit the student intranet

To compress your PDF file:

  1. Open your file in Adobe Acrobat DC
  2. Select File>Save as Other>Reduced File Size PDF…
  3. Choose the Adobe Version Compatibility you prefer, bearing in mind that the ‘Retain existing’ option is the most compatible file
  4. Select OK
  5. Choose where you want to save your compressed file
  6. Rename your compressed file so that you don’t overwrite the master file
  7. Select Save
Compressing your PDFs.gif

Compressing pictures in a PowerPoint presentation

If you are working in PowerPoint, you can reduce the file size of your presentation by compressing pictures within your file. Please note, these instructions only work on the desktop version of PowerPoint. Instructions for downloading the desktop version of PowerPoint can be found on the student intranet

To compress your pictures in your PowerPoint presentation:

  1. Save your presentation and give it a new file name so that your original file is preserved
  2. Select one of the pictures in your presentation
  3. Select Format>Compress pictures
  4. Choose whether you want to apply compression only to this picture or to all of the pictures in your file
  5. Choose whether you want to delete the cropped areas of pictures
  6. Choose the resolution you require bearing in mind that you may want to present high resolution images
  7. Save your file
Compressing pictures in a PowerPoint presentation.gif

Making your PowerPoint Presentations Accessible

You can use the accessibility checker in Microsoft Powerpoint to make your PowerPoint presentations more accessible.

To use the accessibility checker

  1. Select the Review tab
  2. Select Check accessibility
  3. Work your way through all of the errors and warnings in the accessibility report

It’s likely you will be asked to provide alt text for any images or objects in your presentation. You can leave this blank if the images or objects are decorative, but if the images or objects provide information, you should include this information in the alt text. 

Tech Tip

Take a look at the tech tip below to see a demonstration of the accessibility checker:

Setting up an MS Form as a Canvas Assignment

You can embed forms into Canvas assigments to provide students with a due date for when they must complete the form by. You might do this if you want students to provide emergency contact details, for example.

How to embed a form into a Canvas Assignment

Before you embed your form into a Canvas assignment, you should design and create your form. Find out more about creating forms.

Once you’ve created your form,

  1. Select ‘collect responses’
  2. Select the embed option, which looks like an html tag
  3. Copy the embed code
  4. Visit your Canvas course and create a new assignment
    1. Title your assignment and provide a brief description in the RCE
    2. Select ‘Insert>Embed’ and then paste the embed code you copied
  5. Leave the assignment with 0 points
  6. Select ‘Ungraded assignment’
  7. Set the due date, available from date, and available until date 

Tech Tip: Embedding a form into a Canvas assignment

If you’d like to watch a demonstration of the above process, take a look at our video below.

Taking attendance

You can also use MS Forms to take attendance. Find out more here.

Creating icons and Buttons in the Rich Content Editor

Student Intranet

You can use the Canvas Icon Maker to create icons and buttons in Canvas that link to other content, such as a Module or Page. These icons are more accessible than any images of text you may have used in the past, because they are in SVG format. SVG files do not get blurry when we zoom in or use Canvas on a phone.

  1. Start by opening the Rich Content Editor (RCE) and then select the Icon Maker 
  2. Enter a name for your icon and provide alt text: the alt text should be the same as the text you’re planning to use in your icon
  3. Start to edit the shape, size, and colour of your icon: until you give your icon a colour, you won’t see the icon in the preview. Use the Adobe Color Contrast Analyzer (Links to an external site.) to select an accessible colour pallette
  4. Add your text and edit the colour and position. 
  5. If you like, select an image: the single colour images may work better than the multi colour images
  6. Select Apply
  7. Optional: to link your icon to a module or page, select the icon and then select Insert>Link>External/Course Link

To see these instructions in more detail, take a look at How do I create an icon using the Rich Content Editor Icon Maker? 

Creating Icons and Buttons in the Rich Content Editor Tech Tip

If you’d prefer to watch a video tutorial, take a look at the video below:

Adding an Avatar to your Canvas Account

Featured Canvas Blog Post Image

Adding an avatar to your Canvas account is a great way to personalise any communications you send out. It’s really helpful for students too, because it helps students to recognise your messages.

It takes a couple of minutes to add a picture to your Canvas account, and you don’t need to add a picture of yourself – it can be an avatar, drawings or artwork if you prefer.

Follow the steps below to add a picture to your Canvas account.

Using sections on your Canvas course

In our previous tech tip, What’s the difference between Sections and Groups on Canvas?, we outlined the differences between sections and groups in Canvas, and the powerful ways you can use these tools on your course.

We’ve prepared two videos for you to start setting up sections on your course and using them to create announcements, assignments and events for specific sections on your course.

Creating Sections in Canvas

Using Sections for Announcements, Assignments and Events

If you’d like further help, please contact us at

What’s the difference between Sections and Groups on Canvas?

There is a text alternative to the information presented in the video below.


Groups are like a smaller version of your course and are used as a collaborative tool where students can work together on group projects and assignments.

As an instructor, use groups to:

  • Set up student group configurations at the course level for assignments and in-class work, both graded and ungraded.
  • Facilitate semester-long projects so that students can communicate and iterate on documents together.
  • Facilitate faculty professional development and institutional committees or activities.
  • Facilitate student-run study groups within courses or at the account level.

For more information about Groups, visit the Canvas Guides group section (Links to an external site.).


Sections in Canvas are used to segment the class list for administrative purposes, typically based on teaching fellow assignment or meeting time.

Once you create sections, you can: 

  • have varied due dates for assignments by section
  • filter the Gradebook by section
  • filter the SpeedGrader™ by section when grading student work
  • view section assignments for students on the People page
  • post announcements to individual sections
  • create calendar events unique to each group

The Canvas Guides (Links to an external site.) have answers to frequently asked questions about sections.