Setting Up the Tool

Activating Messages

The Messages tool is not enabled by default. To activate Messages for your course, go to Edit Tools in Site Info.

Viewing and Organizing Messages

Message Options

The Messages tool offers many options for interacting with and modifying messages from both the folder view and individual message view. Folders keep your messages organized and they are what you see when you first enter the Messages tool. By default you have four folders to organize your mail: the "Sent" folder, the "Received" folder, the "Deleted" folder, and the "Draft" folder. You are able to add additional folders as you see fit.


Modifying Messages from the Folder View

  1. Click on the folder you wish to view. MESSAGES02-a.png
  2. Check the box(es) to the left of the messages column to select the message(s) you wish to modify. Click Check All the select all the messages.
  3. With messages selected, you have the option to:
    • Mark the messages as unread by clicking Mark Unread.
    • Mark the messages as read by clicking Mark Read.
    • Delete messages by clicking Delete.
    • Move messages to another folder by clicking Move. MESSAGES03-a.png

Deleting messages from this view or from individual message view does not delete messages permanently but sends them to the 'Deleted' folder. To delete messages permanently, delete them from the 'Deleted' folder.

Viewing a Message and Individual Message Options

  1. Click on the folder housing the message you wish to view. MESSAGES04-a.png
  2. When inside the folder, click on the subject line for the message you wish to view. MESSAGES05-a.png
  3. You are now viewing the individual message. From here, you have the option to:
    • Reply to the sender by clicking Reply.
    • Reply to the sender and all other recipients in the conversation by clicking Reply to All.
    • Forward the message to other participants in the course by clicking Forward.
    • Move the message to another folder by clicking Move to Folder.
    • Delete the message by clicking Delete. Remember that this sends messages to the 'Deleted' folder. MESSAGES06-a.png

Do not reply to email copies of OWL messages. Any emailed copies of messages sent through OWL cannot be replied to directly as the sender in this case is the OWL Postmaster. To reply to a message sent using OWL, please do so in the OWL system itself.

Sorting and Searching Messages

The Messages tool has options for sorting the messages within your folders as well as retrieving specific content using the Search features.

Sorting Messages

  1. Inside the folder, click on the column titles Subject, Authored By,Date or Label to sort messages accordingly.
  2. You can also view messages with indentation for back and forth conversations or view all messages without indentation by selecting either By Conversation or All Messages from the drop-down menu. MESSAGES07-a.png

Searching for Messages Within Folders

  1. Click on the folder you wish to search through. MESSAGES08-a.png
  2. Next to "Search for text:" in the top left area of the folder, type your search term(s) in the text box provided.
  3. Click Search to search for your terms. The default search searches by subject line. MESSAGES09-a.png

Advanced Search

  1. Click Advanced Search underneath the text box. MESSAGES10-a.png
  2. Check off the parameter(s) you wish to use.
    • Check Subject to search for terms in the subject line.
    • Check Authored By to search for the sender of the message.
    • Check Date Range and use the accompanying text boxes or click the calendar icons to determine a range of messages to search
    • Check Body to search the written content of the message
    • Check Label to search by whether the message was labeled as being high, normal, or low priority.
  3. Enter your terms and click Search. Your selected parameters will remain checked until you uncheck them or click Clear Search to reset to the default subject line search. MESSAGES11-a.png

Please note that all searches are case sensitive.

Creating and Editing Folders

You have the option of further organizing your messages by creating new folders and then moving content from folder to folder.

Creating a New Folder

  1. Click New Folder in the toolbar of the Messages tool. MESSAGES12-a.png
  2. Name your folder in the Folder Title form provided.
  3. Click Add to create your folder. MESSAGES13-a.png

Please note that any folders you add to the course site will be visible to all participants in the site.

Renaming or Deleting Folders

  1. Any folders you have created will have settings options. Click Folder Settings. MESSAGES14-a.png
  2. At this point you are able to either:
    • Rename the folder by clicking Rename Folder.
    • Delete the folder by clicking Delete.
    • Add a new folder by clicking Add. MESSAGES15-a.png

The Add function in folder settings does not add a subfolder but rather a new top-level folder. There is no capability for subfolders in Messages.

Moving Messages Between Folders

  1. Enter the folder that contains the messages you want to move. MESSAGES16-a.png
  2. Check off the box(es) to the left of the message(s) you wish to move.
  3. Click Move from the bar of options. MESSAGES17-a.png
  4. Select which folder you want to move the messages to and click Move Messages. MESSAGES1-a.png

Composing and Sending Messages

Composing a New Message

To begin composing a message, click Compose Message on the top toolbar of the Messages page.



The Messages Tool allows for messages to be sent to everyone in the course, select roles within the course, and select groups within the course.

Sending Messages to the Entire Course

To send a message to the entire course, including all instructors, secondary instructors, grade admins, teaching assistants, and students, select All Participants in the "To" field.


Sending Messages to Select Roles or Groups

Select the appropriate role or group from the "To" field. This will send a message to all participants who hold that role or are part of that group.

MESSAGES21-a.png Control+click on a PC or Command+click on a Mac will allow you to select multiple roles or groups. If you do not have any Groups set up in your Course Site and you want to create groups, you can do so by selecting Manage Groups under Site Info. If you need further instruction, please refer to Manage Groups in the Site Info documentation page.

Cc and Bcc

The Cc tool allows for recipients to receive a copy of your message in their email inbox as well as through OWL.

  1. Ensure that you have this feature enabled in Settings
  2. Check off the box next to "Send Cc." MESSAGES22-a.png

The Messages tool also offers a Bcc function if you wish to hide certain groups, roles, or individuals from the recipients list.

  1. Click Add Bcc. MESSAGES23-a.png
  2. Select which groups you wish to send a copy of the message to.

Message Priority

  1. Click the drop-down menu next to Label.
  2. Select from either "High", "Low", or "Normal" priority. Label is set to "Normal" by default. MESSAGES24-a.png

Message Content

In terms of creating the body of your message, you can type new content directly into the Rich-Text Editor, paste from Word or other documents, and add attachments.

Rich-Text Editor

Underneath the Message heading is a powerful text editing tool for creating the content of your message. For full documentation on the capabilities of this tool, please refer to the documentation page for the Rich-text Editor (CKEditor).

Adding Attachments

  1. Click the Add Attachments button at the bottom of the Compose Message page. MESSAGES25-a.png
  2. You have the option to either:
    • Attach an item from your Resources folder by clicking Attach a copy to the right of the item you wish to attach.
    • Upload a new file to attach.
    • Paste a URL into the text box provided.
  3. Click Continue to return to the "Compose Message" page. The attachment will appear below the editor window and will display the name of the attachment, the size of the attachment, and the attachment type. MESSAGES26-a.png MESSAGES27-a.png

Take care when attaching large files if you are planning to send a cc to participants' email addresses.

Previewing, Saving, and Sending

You have the option of previewing your message before you send it, saving a draft of your message so you can continue composing it at a later date, or simply sending your message.

Permissions and Settings


You can adjust the permission levels for the various roles within your course.

Changing Permission Levels

  1. Click Permissions on the top toolbar. MESSAGES29-a.png
  2. Check or uncheck the boxes for each role to adjust their permission levels. Clicking on the option name will check or uncheck that option for all roles available.
  3. Click Save to save your permission settings. MESSAGES30-a.png

Settings for Forwarding and Group Visibility

There are a few helpful settings available in the "Messages" tool which assist in backing up messages, ccing email addresses, and an additional visibility setting that is useful for hiding select groups from student view.

Copying Messages to Recipients' Email Addresses

  1. Click Settings on the top toolbar. MESSAGES31-a.png
  2. Set the "Allow sending copies to recipients' email address(es)" option to "Yes".
  3. Click the Save Settings button at the bottom of the page. MESSAGES32-a.png
  4. In your message, check off the "Send CC" box. This will send a copy of the message to the email address recipients have used to register in your course (in most cases

Forwarding messages to another email address

  1. Click Settings from the top toolbar. MESSAGES33-a.png
  2. Set the "Auto Forward Messages" option to "Yes".
  3. Enter your email address in the "Email address for forwarding" field.
  4. Click the Save Settings button at the bottom of the page. This will send a copy of every message you send to that email address and is useful if you wish to have a backup of your messages. MESSAGES34-a.png

Hidden Groups

This setting is useful if you wish to keep certain groups private from your students.

  1. On the top toolbar, click Settings. MESSAGES35-a.png
  2. Click the drop-down menu next to the Groups Hidden in To field option to view which groups you are able to hide. MESSAGES36-a.png
  3. One at a time, choose each group you want to hide.
  4. Click the Save Settings button at the bottom of the page.

In order for this feature to work as you intend, check that the "View Hidden Groups in the 'To field'" option is configured accordingly in Permissions. You cannot hide Roles from student view.