Atomic Search Pilot for Canvas

What is Atomic Search?

Atomic Search is a comprehensive search tool that allows instructors and students to search Canvas courses. 
Atomic Search allows you to:

  • Save time by optimizing teaching and learning
  • Perform full-text search of all course content including files, pages, assignments, quizzes, and announcements

What content is included in Atomic Search results?

Users are able to search through content located in Canvas courses in which they are enrolled. The returned results contain content created or stored in Canvas native tools like Canvas Announcements, Assignments, Discussions, Files, Pages, Quizzes. Atomic Search will not return results for content stored in third party tools like Ed Discussion, Gradescope, Harmonize, TopHat, etc.

Who can use Atomic Search?

Any user who has the role of Instructor or Student in at least one Canvas site will be able to use Atomic Search to search through content in those courses where they have one of those roles

How do you use Atomic Search?

To use the search, simply click on the Search button located in your Canvas course. Type your search terms in the provided text box and click the search button (or hit Enter on your keyboard).

What content is searchable?

When you search, the tool will look for the text string you input within Canvas pages, files (PDF's, MS Office, text, and HTML documents), quizzes, modules, external URL's, announcements, discussion titles and descriptions (not posts), and within your syllabus content. (Instructors will see published and unpublished content, while students will only see published content that is currently visible to them in the course)

You can use an asterisk (*) as a wildcard to find words with various endings.
You can also use quotation marks ("") around a phrase to return results that only contain the specific phrase. 

Content in active courses is indexed for searching every 10 hours. If you do not find content that has recently been added, wait 24 hours and try again.

How can I Filter Search Results?

Once you have entered your search, the page will refresh to display the results of your search. At the top of the list are some filtering tools you can use to limit your search by: 

  • Content Type (e.g. Announcements only, Assignments only, Files only, Syllabi only)
  • Relevance (better match) / Recently (most recently created/added/edited)
  • Current Course (if applicable) / My courses (all courses in which you are enrolled).     

With the search results, you will be able to see the title of the content; which is also a clickable link that will take you directly to the content.

Canvas search filters.

​​​​​​​Can I disable Atomic Search in my course?

If you do not want to allow students to search your course, you can disable the Atomic Search feature. Select "Search" from the Course Navigation menu in your course. Select the three vertical dots at the upper right of the Search page.

Choose Course Settings, then toggle "Allow student to search this course" to the off position- it will turn from green with a check mark to black with an "X." Select Save.

Remove Search Tool from Course Navigation

Once Atomic Search is disabled, we recommend also removing the Search tool from your Course Navigation menu so students cannot access it.  If the Search tool is not removed, students who attempt to use it will receive an error message ("Something went wrong, contact your system administrator for help").

Select "Settings" from the Course Navigation menu. Select the three vertical dots next to Search on the Navigation page, then "Disable" Scroll to the bottom of the page and select Save.

How can I get help?

If you have any questions about Atomic Search or would like to learn more about how to use the tool, please contact