Copying courses in Canvas


This guide describes the process for moving Canvas course contents from an existing course to a new one. If you need more information about how Course Copy in Canvas works, different options available for copying/moving materials, and key terms and definitions, refer to our Explainer: Copying in Canvas at the end of the article.

Importing/Copying Canvas course contents

  1. Open the destination course (e.g. empty new course) home page. Click the option to Import Existing Course Content (note: this is usually on the far right hand side of the page).

  2. Now you’ll select the options for the copy with the following components:

    • Under the heading for Content Type, select Copy a Canvas Course.
    • For Search for a course, type in the course name or course number for the course you are copying from. Canvas will order the results by the course term to help with finding it.
    • Always use Select specific content (for additional information about this, refer to our background information above). Canvas will allow the user to browse, then select the desired content to import, in the step 3.
    • Either Remove dates or elect to shift dates. Removing dates works well for smaller courses. (Note: Shifting dates can involve some trial-and-error and substitutions depending on how the terms have shifted from the source course to the destination course).
    • Click Import to begin the course copy process.
  3. Click Select content to pick your copy contents. Consider the following tips as you do so:
    • Select the relevant pages, assignments, quizzes, files, LTIs/apps, and Course Settings.
    • Explore the drop-down trees to see the contents as pictured. Click the top-most checkbox in each category to select all.
    • Uncheck the items you wish to exclude from the copy.
    • Related files will come over if they’re interrelated on a page in the source course (even if they’re excluded from the pick list).
  4. Click Import to begin the copy process.
    • It will say Queued while the copy job is being scheduled. Fairly soon after that appears, it should switch to Running. Once completed, it will change to Completed. If any issues occurred, they appear under a log hyperlinked as # Issues. Refer to the Canvas Guide, How do I view the status of current and prior course imports? for more on statuses.
      This moving GIF screenshot depicts steps 2 and 3 combined. Step 2: Begin by selecting the type of copy and the source course. Step 3: Then select what you want to include in the copy contents. Step 4: Click Import to begin the process of importing.


This moving GIF screenshot depicts steps 2 and 3 combined. Step 2: Begin by selecting the type of copy and the source course. Step 3: Then select what you want to include in the copy contents. Step 4: Click Import to begin the process of importing.


Note, refer to our guide on Copying videos in Panopto’s Canvas course folders for information on copying your course-related Panopto videos.


Canvas Quick Tips: Copying Courses (Video)

The following screencast explains how to copy your course from beginning to end.

Explainer: Copying in Canvas

What options are there for copying in Canvas?

  • Most common: Course Copy in Canvas (also known as, “Import a Course”) is the most common way to move materials between two Canvas sites.
  • You may also choose to “Send to” or “Copy to” content from one course to another.
  • Additionally, you may always export course contents or individual file archives from a course and import them in a new one.

Things to know:

  • If you use All content for the selection criteria, it replaces any previous content in the destination course site.
  • In nearly every case, it’s best to use Select specific content. This allows you to exclude Announcements from the source course. Otherwise, you have to delete the announcements individually in the destination course afterwards.
  • Several important elements are included (obscurely) in Course Settings including: the course home page type, all show/hide elections for the left-hand navigation, course image for dashboard listing, and previous post policies preferences in Grades.
  • Related items left “unchecked” from the Select specific content option do not always come over because of that implied relationship (e.g. a linked file found in the contents of a page). When in doubt, make sure to check extra items you think could be referenced in your course.
  • Canvas will update all links and files to point to the resulting course site’s paths.
    • Pro tip: You can confirm this by looking for the new course number in the URL of any link (e.g.: The 54321 in this case should be the new course’s canvas ID.


A couple of key terms come up when we describe the process for a Canvas course copy. These terms will be used throughout the guide.

  • Content type is the type of source medium that you use for the Import Content operation. We will focus on Copy a Canvas Course, however if you are bringing content from another institution, OER, or a publisher pack, you may need to use a different selection. The Canvas Course is the selection option for referencing the dynamic Canvas site you use as the material for the import/copy.
  • The source course is the Canvas course site you are using for the contents of the copying.
  • The destination course is the resulting Canvas course after the copy is completed based on the source coursecontents.
  • Import content is the process of copying Canvas course contents from the source course to the destination course.
  • Import course and course copy will be used interchangeably here. Both are used to refer to the overall process of copying the course.

The Canvas part of the guide is adapted from What is the Course Import Tool?How do I adjust events and due dates in a course import?How do I select specific content as part of a course import? from Instructure’s Canvas guides. We will keep this guide up to date, but if you need additional information about any specific behaviors during course imports, refer back to these source guides.

Print Article


Article ID: 143804
Thu 6/2/22 4:22 PM
Mon 8/22/22 9:17 AM

Related Articles (1)

This guide describes Panopto's process for moving course-related videos between two courses with separate Canvas sites.