Lesson 5: My Account's Brand and Functionality

In this chapter you’ll learn how to use the Theme Editor, how to enable feature previews available at the account and course levels, and how to integrate external applications for your account.

Custom Branding

The Canvas Theme Editor tool allows you to customize the display colors for text, buttons, and links using hex codes. You can also upload custom images and watermarks to display in your Canvas instance.

By default, the Theme Editor is only enabled in an institution’s root account and all sub-accounts adopt the root account theme. However, the tool can be enabled in sub-accounts, allowing for sub-account theme customization. Any design element not changed in a sub-account theme inherits the account-level design. 

Additionally, the Theme Editor supports custom cascading style sheets (CSS) and JavaScript (JS) uploads. Your CSM can enable this option in your account. Before using this option in your account, learn about CSS/JS restrictions in Canvas. 

Open Themes

Open Themes

To customize the theme for your account, click the Themes link in Account Navigation [1]. 

The Themes page displays customizable templates [2]. Hover over a template and click the Open in Theme Editor button [3].  You can also click the Add Theme button [4] and select a theme from the list [5].

Theme Editor

Theme Editor

The Theme Editor’s Edit sidebar displays four sections. Click the Arrow icon next to the section name to view the customizable options in each section.  

  1. Global Branding: Customize colors for text, links, and buttons throughout Canvas. These colors display on the Canvas Dashboard and in courses.
  2. Global Navigation: Customize the look of the Global Navigation Menu that persists throughout Canvas.
  3. Watermarks & Other Images: Upload images to display throughout Canvas and in Canvas mobile apps. 
  4. Login Screen: Customize text and background colors, and add custom images to display on your institution’s Canvas login screen. 
Theme Editor—Upload

If CSS/JS is enabled in your account, you can customize your institution’s Canvas instance and mobile applications by uploading a CSS or JavaScript file. Click the Upload tab [1]. Then click the Select button to upload a CSS or JavaScript file [2]. 

View Theme

View Theme

The Theme Editor displays a sample page where you can view any changes made using the customization tools. To preview your customizations, click the Preview Your Changes button [1]. 

To save your changes, click the Save theme button [2]. 

Once your theme has been saved, you can apply it to your account. To apply your customizations, click the Apply theme button [3]. 

Learn more about creating themes for an account

Learn more about managing themes for an account.

Canvas Feature Previews

Canvas is continually creating new features to improve your experience. The majority of improvements are made available as part of the regular release cycle. However, some features may not be applicable for your institution. Other feature previews may change the workflow for common activities in Canvas during your current term. Because we want your account to function according to your institution’s needs and we want you to learn about these features at your own pace, you can manage some Canvas features from your Account Settings. Feature previews allow you to choose if and when you want to enable a new feature for your institution. Most institutions pilot the feature within their institution and then enable it for the entire institution between terms.

View Feature Previews

View Feature Options

To view available features, click the Settings link in Account Navigation [1]. Then click the Feature Previews tab [2]. 

Feature previews are divided into two sections: 

  • Account [3]: Only account admins can view account feature previews. Feature previews trickle down, meaning that if an option is enabled at the root account, it will be enabled in all sub-accounts. Sub-account admins can then leave the feature enabled or they can disable the option for their sub-account. 
  • Course [4]: You can disable, allow, or enable course feature previews in your account. If a course feature preview is turned off or on in an account, the feature cannot be managed at the course level. If the feature is allowed in a course, instructors can choose to turn the feature on or off for their course. 

To view information about a feature, click the Arrow icon next to the feature preview name [5]. 

Learn more about current available feature previews in an account

Learn more about managing new features for an account

External Apps (LTI)

Canvas supports Learning Tool Interoperability (LTI) standard for third party tools. This means you can integrate a variety of existing teaching tools to work within Canvas via the EduApp Center. You can enable these tools in your account and they will be available for use in courses in your account. 

View Apps

View Apps

Click the Settings link in Account Navigation [1], then click the Apps tab [2]. 

Canvas displays an alphabetical list of applications that integrate with Canvas [3]. You can also search for applications [4].  

Add External App to Account

Add External App to Account

To enable an app in your account:

  1. Click the app icon, then and click the Add App button. 
  2. Enter the required information to enable the app in your account.
  3. Click the Add App button. 

As an admin, you can allow or restrict access to certain application integrations in your account. Learn how to manage a whitelist in the EduApp and how to manage an EduApp Center whitelist in your Canvas account

You can also configure external apps via URL, XML, LTI 2 Registration URL, and via manual entry.

Additional Resources

Canvas Guides

For more in-depth information about the topics covered in this chapter, check out the Canvas Admin Guides chapters on Terms and Grading.

You can also watch the Canvas Admin overview videos about Terms and Grading Periods

Canvas Community

The Canvas Community is an online community of Canvas users from around the world. It houses a space for Questions and Answers about Canvas and a variety of groups, including the Canvas Administration group

Up Next in Lesson 6: Adding Course-level User Roles and Enrollments

Once your account is configured and customized, you are ready to add active users. In the last lesson you will learn about the following: 

Course-level User Roles

  • Canvas allows you to customize course access for users in your account. You can also create new user roles and manage their permissions. 


  • Courses house enrollments that consist of students, instructors, TAs, observers, and any other course-level users your institution requires. 
  • Create Canvas courses for your enrollments. 

Add Users

  • To create the best user experience for your faculty and students, your account should be configured and customized before you add course-level users.