Easy Voting by email in Outlook

Microsoft is releasing a ‘Quick Poll’ option in Outlook ignoring the very similar, voting buttons, option that’s already in Outlook for Windows and Outlook for Mac. Use Voting Buttons to ask a question and Outlook will automatically collect responses. Office Watch also explains how recipient see the voting options and respond.

Voting buttons have been in Outlook for a long time, at least back to Outlook 2007 for Windows.

Anyone can use Voting Buttons to ask a question or respond. According to Microsoft, an Exchange Server account is required for Voting Buttons but that’s not entirely true.  With Exchange Server, the responses/votes are compiled automatically. Otherwise you have to count up the votes manually.

That said, Outlook Voting Buttons work best within organizations using Exchange Server because you know everyone getting the message uses some Microsoft software to respond or vote.

Make a voting email

Create a new email message. On the Options tab choose Use Voting Buttons.

There are three provided options:

  • Approve;Reject
  • Yes;No
  • Yes;No;Maybe

Plus Custom …

Custom Voting buttons

As you’ve probably guessed, the voting options are list separated by  semi-colons.

Choosing Custom opens the Message Properties.  Under Voting and Tracking options you can enter any vote choices you like.

Compose the rest of the message as usual and send.

What the receivers see

The receivers of your email will see the voting options in various ways, depending on their email software.

In Outlook, the voting options appear in the message header.

It’s similar in Outlook in a web browser.

Make your vote from the selection.

Send the response now – sends your vote back

Edit the response before sending – reply to the message as well as sending back your vote.

In Sent Items you can see how you voted …

As you’d expect, the voting buttons don’t appear with non-Microsoft email. Here’s what Gmail in a browser shows.

Collecting votes and responses

Responses back to Outlook are collected automatically.

As soon as one response is received, a Tracking view appears in the sent message. Message | Show | Tracking.

Each recipient/voter is shown with their response.

Unfortunately, you can’t edit the response.  That would be handy for people who call or message to reply.

Export to Excel or Word

The voting totals are listed in the Tracking header. You can do more analysis in Excel or list the results in a Word table.

It doesn’t look it, but the Outlook Tracking list is copyable.  Click in the top left cell (Recipient) then across and down to choose all the responses.

Then Ctrl + C to copy the selection to the clipboard.  There’s no right-click options available.

Excel and Flash Fill

Switch to Excel and paste into a blank worksheet.

Responses and date/time are in the one cell which is annoying but easily fixed with Flash Fill.

Type in the top row what you expect to see, then use Home | Editing | Fill | Flash Fill.

Excel will use your examples in the top row to complete the rest of the rows.

If you wish, make separate columns for date and time.

Word and convert to table

Pasting the responses into Word makes a tab separated list.  That can be converted into a Table by selecting all the responses then Insert | Table | Convert text to table.

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