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Using Voting Buttons in Outlook 2010

The next time you need to find out whether your colleagues want bagels or doughnuts for an upcoming staff meeting, you might consider using the voting buttons in Outlook. I find this feature especially useful when I need to gather the opinions of a large group, since Outlook can be configured to keep a running tally of the results of the poll.

Use Outlook to vote

Outlook makes it possible for you to set up questions with simple, default replies (Approve/Reject; Yes/No; or Yes/No/Maybe), or you can put in your own custom replies (e.g., bagels, doughnuts, muffins, or grapes). In this blog post, I will begin by showing you how to use the default replies, and then we will discuss how you can put in your own options.

First let’s say that we want to know which of our colleagues have completed the paperwork necessary for driving the company van.  Follow the steps below to send a message with voting buttons:

  1. First, open a new email message from within Outlook 2010.
  2. Click the Options tab on the Ribbon.
  3. In the Tracking group, click on Use Voting Buttons. A drop-down menu will appear offering you 4 options: Approve/Reject; Yes/No; Yes/No/Maybe; or Custom…
  4. Click on Yes;No. Your untitled message form appears with a note at the top that tells you that you have added voting buttons to this message. You can now continue to create your message.
  5. Fill in the To… field with the recipients’ email addresses.
  6. In the Subject field, type your question (e.g., Have you completed the paperwork and been approved to drive the company van?)
  7. Type in any other relevant information that you want to include in the body of the email. If this is the first time you have sent an email that contains voting buttons to these recipients, you may want to include a note that gives directions on how to reply.
  8. When the message is complete, click on the Send button.

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When your recipients receive the message, they will see an information icon (i) just above the From field. The note that follows this icon says, “Vote by clicking Vote in the Respond group above.”  When recipients click on the Vote button, a drop-down menu will appear. Recipients can choose either “Yes” or “No.”

When the recipient selects one of these options, a Microsoft Outlook dialog box will appear asking if they want to Send the response now or Edit the response before sending.

dialog box
If the recipient clicks on the first radio button, the vote will be sent without any added message. If the recipient clicks on the second option, a new message form will appear and the recipient will be able to type in an explanation or additional information that will accompany their response.

Regardless of which option is chosen, the subject header of the reply message will include the recipient’s vote followed by a colon and then the subject line from the original email. This makes it easy for the sender to manually count the votes, since the responses will show up as new items in the sender’s Inbox as the recipients reply.

Subject line of message with voting buttons
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If you want to poll a group, but the potential answer is not yes, no, or maybe, you can create custom options. To do so, begin by following directions 1 – 3 from above. After clicking on Use Voting Buttons, click on the last option, which is Custom…

Custom option for voting buttons
A Properties dialog box will appear. In the Voting and Tracking options section, verify that the Use voting buttons check box is selected.

Use voting buttons checkbox
Press and drag the text that is in the field next to the Use voting buttons checkbox. Type in the list of options that you want the recipients to be able to choose from, separated by a semi-colon. (Note: This will not work if you use a comma instead of a semi-colon!)

example of custom voting button options

Notice that there is also a Delivery options section towards the bottom of the dialog box.

Delivery options

These options can be very useful. You can have replies sent to others and you can choose when you want the email message delivered. You can also set an expiration date for the poll. If you put a check in the Expires after checkbox, you can set a date when the votes will no longer count. Recipients can still reply after the date that you set, but Outlook will automatically put a line through the text (strikethrough) in the message header so the person who is conducting the poll will know that the message was sent after the deadline.

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If you are polling a large group, you may not want to have to go back through your Inbox to count up recipients’ responses. Outlook can be configured to do this for you. (At Indiana University most Outlook accounts are set up this way by default, but this is not always the case.)

To configure Outlook so that it automatically keeps a tally of the responses:

  1. On the Ribbon, click on the File tab to move to Backstage view.
  2. From the menu that appears on the left side of your screen, click on Options. An Outlook Options dialog box appears.
  3. If necessary, from the menu on the left side of the dialog box, select Mail.
  4. Scroll down until you see the Tracking section.
  5. If necessary, click on Automatically process meeting requests and responses to meeting requests and polls checkbox.
  6. Option to have Outlook keep a running tally of votes

  7. At the bottom of the dialog box, click the OK button to proceed.

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When you send out messages where recipients must vote, you can quickly count the results by clicking on the informational message at the top of the window that tells you how the sender responded. A pop up will appear that says View voting responses.

pop-up tag
When you click on View voting responses, a new window will appear and you will be able to see a running tally of the total responses that have been sent. Beneath that, there will be a list of each recipient and their individual response.

Looking at the results of the poll

So the next time you need to poll a group, save yourself some time and energy. Use voting buttons in Outlook!

NOTE: When you send a message with voting buttons to a non-Outlook  account (Gmail, Hotmail, etc.) or if an Outlook user accesses their account with the Outlook Web App, the message will go through but there will be no voting buttons available. Therefore, it is best to use this feature only when you know that all recipients use Outlook.


40 Responses to "Using Voting Buttons in Outlook 2010" to “Using Voting Buttons in Outlook 2010”

  1. Lauri Wtite Says:

    Can you use voting buttons in a meeting request? I have Outlook 2010.

  2. Vik Says:

    How do I share the voting results with all the people who are part of the poll. I mean I dont want to send a screen shot of the tally screen above each time someone asks me about the tally.

    -thanks!

  3. Billie Says:

    I have sent an email using voting buttons to a large group. I have Outlook 2010. I have received several responses saying they do not see the voting buttons. I confirmed in my sent email that I did, in fact, attach the voting buttons. One receipient indicated they were viewing the email on their iPhone and was unable to see the voting buttons. I am also wondering if those using an earlier version of Outlook are able to see the voting buttons.

  4. Donna Says:

    Billie,

    The voting buttons will only appear if the recipient is using a Microsoft Exchange Server 2000, Exchange Server 2003, or Exchange Server 2007 account. Many home and personal Outlook accounts do not use Microsoft Exchange, so they will not be able to see the voting buttons. Those recipients who are using mobile devices to check their email will not be able to see the voting buttons either.

    With that said, if you are sending an email to a large group and you are not sure what version of Microsoft Exchange Server they are using, or if you suspect that many will be reading their messages on a mobile device, you will probably want to include a note in the body of the message explaining that they might not be able to see the voting buttons and that they should send you their response via a regular email message.

    Nothing’s perfect. ) ;

    Donna

  5. Donna Says:

    Billie,

    I forgot to include Exchange Server 2010 in my list from above.

    Donna

  6. Donna Says:

    Vik,

    Good question! One option is to export the voting responses to Excel and then send the Excel spreadsheet as an attachment. Follow this URL for directions on how to do this: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook-help/create-polls-in-e-mail-messages-and-review-the-results-HP010080425.aspx#BM3

    Donna

  7. Donna Says:

    Lauri,

    You cannot use voting buttons on meeting requests. Perhaps Microsoft is afraid that recipients would get confused if there were voting buttons and Accept/Decline buttons all in the same message.

    Thanks,
    Donna

  8. Brent Says:

    Note: If you delete or move the original email sent out with the poll info on it to a different folder, results will not show up!!!!

  9. Donna Says:

    Good point, Brent. Thanks for sharing this.

  10. Dan Says:

    In message preview there is nothing showing voting buttons are being used. Is there any way to add a visual to make easier to see for follow-up vote response needed? Using MS Exchange server 2010 and only thing I can see might be to add a follow-up flag (by tomrrow, by …). Mainly for those who use preview for follow-up.

    Agree with Vic it’d be nice to have easy way to share voting results.

  11. Arielle Says:

    An employee at our company made the mistake mentioned by Brent (moving the sent email to another folder). Is there a way to re-enable the tracking?

  12. Rajneesh Says:

    Hi,
    Can anyone help? we are a samll organization with 120 employees, i want to design a Leave Management system using Outlook 2010 64 bit. Basically i want a system where store manage can apply leave by using email and HR manager should be able to approve leave by Voting Buttons. once approve or rejected sender will receive the response and accordingly Calander will be updated. i want “LEAVE APPLICATION” Option to appear in NEW ITEMS in Home Tab. once they click “LEAVE APPLICATION”, new window will appear same like “Meeting” with predefined email address and Subject, I want another form control (Radio Button) there where they should be able to check the type of leave they are applying (Annual, Sick, Maternity etc)

  13. Donna Says:

    Hi Rajneesh,

    I wouldn’t recommend using Outlook as a Leave Management system. There are a number of lengthy posts out there that discuss the reasons why. Here is one (it’s older but still relevant): http://ask.metafilter.com/44957/Tracking-employee-time-off

    Good luck.

    Donna

  14. Justin Says:

    Can I use the voting button as a method of advancing an email on to another department? For example, I have a form for Purchase requests, once the manager approves the purchase by voting yes, can the email & attached quote be forwarded to accounting for processing?

  15. April Says:

    Dan,
    There isn’t a built-in visual to show that a message contains voting buttons.

    One suggestion would be to have the first line of the message say something similar to “Voting buttons are included in this message.” You might even use an alternate color (red?). If a recipient has their Inbox in Preview View, they will see the first line of the message.

    A second idea would be for a recipient to create a rule for a message to appear in a different color if the words “voting buttons” appear in the message. This would have to be done by each recipient in their personal Outlook mailbox.

    I hope this helps!
    April
    Indiana University IT Training

  16. April Says:

    Arielle,
    There is no way to re-enable tracking. Sorry.
    April
    Indiana University IT Training

  17. April Says:

    Justin,
    You can create a rule in Outlook that will complete this task. Set the rule so that a message from the manager that contains the word “Yes” in the subject will automatically forward to accounting.

    Good luck!
    April
    Indiana University IT Training

  18. Krystyna Says:

    Is there a function that will allow me to reject/approve, but forward the body of the email in the response? Or, is there a route and approve function I could use instead? I believe there was something like this in an older version of Outlook.

  19. April Says:

    Krystyna,
    There is no way to forward the body of the message with the approve/reject response. You can choose to edit the message and add your own text (or copy/paste the text from the original message).
    Unfortunately, the route & approve feature has been removed from Outlook.
    Sorry.
    April
    Indiana University IT Training

  20. Andrew Says:

    Hi,

    I am seeking to use the polling buttons in the following way and am not sure if it is possible to set up as I wish.

    1. A request for information arrives at the department from the requestor who has completed and attached a request form.

    2. The form is attached to a saved email template with a short message and approve/reject buttons and sent to the relevant approver and CCs the requestor.

    3. The approver clicks the acept/reject button as relevant and the department can now proceed with the release of information.

    However, from trialling the system I noticed that the requestor who is CC’d can also click on the accept/reject buttons. Is there anyway to prevent the CCd addressee from clicking on the voting buttons while retaining their functionality for the ‘to’ addressee?

    I would like to keep the requestor CC’d in the loop if possible but only if I can prevent them from being able to respond to the approve/reject buttons. Any help would be appreciated.

  21. Chak Says:

    I have sent an email with the voting buttons as Approve/reject, all the replies to this email either approve/reject those emails are going directly to deleted items folder. how to control it. Please help.

  22. Konrad Says:

    Hi,

    Im trying to find away of attaching and actual “voting buttons” in an email?

    Im sure I have previously recieved an email like that where I had to vote this way.

    just make my self clear, im trying to add 2 square buttons , and get an list of responses who clicked what?

    What that require some Macro or programing?

  23. Mike Says:

    I would like to know if you can use voting buttons for multiple choice. For example, I would like to ask a question concerning peoples availability during the work week, but I do not want to limit the voting to a single day. I would like the ability to select all 1, 2 or more days. Is there a certain “character” to use in the script to make this possible?

  24. Jill Says:

    User can not see Voting buttons any more We are on Exchange Servers How do i recreate them for her?

  25. wanda Says:

    hi,

    Is it possible to create invite buttons in Outlook? For example:

    Please select one session which will appear on your calendar:
    Session 1 Monday, April 29 from 11 until 12
    Session 2 Tuesday, April 30 from 11 until 12

    Currently, I am using Outlook 2010.

    Many thanks in advance.

  26. Chris Says:

    Hi,

    I have the same curious as Wanda. Can I create an invite buttons in Outlook for different dates?

  27. Donna Says:

    Chak,

    You must have a rule set up that is causing the responses to go to the Deleted Items folder. To check, click on the File tab and then click on the Manage Rules & Alerts button. A dialog box opens and all the rules associated with your account will be listed in the top panel. When you find the rule that is causing the replies to go to your Deleted Items folder, click to select it, and then click on the Delete button at the top of the window.

    Good luck.

    Donna

  28. Donna Says:

    Hi Konrad,

    It is not possible to add “actual square buttons” to the body of an Outlook message without doing some programming.

    If you have some programming experience and want to explore your options, you might want to look over this article which describes how to add a button that will forward an email to another location: http://community.spiceworks.com/how_to/show/1964-add-a-button-to-outlook-that-will-forward-an-e-mail-to-the-helpdesk-as-a-new-ticket

    Thanks,
    Donna

  29. Donna Says:

    Mike,

    So if I am understanding you correctly, you want to be able to ask a question such as “What day(s) are you available for a meeting this week?” and then you want recipients to be able to check more than one option. Is that correct?

    Unfortunately there is no way to set things up so that recipients can select more than one answer. Sorry.

    Donna

  30. Donna Says:

    Wanda,

    Unfortunately voting buttons are not supported on meeting requests in Outlook. This would be a great feature to have, though, wouldn’t it?

    On the example you gave, you would need to send a regular message with the choices, and then when you receive the replies, you would need to send out the meeting request.

    Thanks for posting your question on our blog!

    Donna

  31. Lori Says:

    I have sent out an email to many users with Yes / No voting buttons. I would like to have a response frome everybody, so my question is…. Is there an easy way to re-distribute the initial email with the voting buttons to users who have not responded?

  32. Alejandro Says:

    Hi Donna!

    Is it possible to have voting request sent with Auto forwarded messages?

    Thank You for your reply!

  33. Donna Says:

    Lori,

    Great question. Unfortunately, the answer is no. There is no easy way to resend a message with voting buttons to only those individuals who have not yet replied. I wish there was! Perhaps you should send this suggestion to Microsoft as a “future feature request.”

    Thanks,
    Donna

  34. Suzanne Says:

    Who all is able to see the poll answers? Some of my recipients might not everyone to see how they answered? Thank you!

  35. Erwin Says:

    Hi, i’m frequently using the voting buttons. I want to create a custom voting button and want to save that one.
    Is that possible and how ?
    rgds, Erwin.

  36. Abul Says:

    Hi
    Is there any option to keep the voter id as anonymous, I mean, the response (with the vote) from the recipient should display the choice and kept their email address as anonymous to the sender?
    Regd

    AS

  37. Donna Says:

    Hi Abul,

    I can’t find any way to keep the voter’s identification anonymous. I have given it a great deal of thought, and I have tried several different things that I thought might work, but I wasn’t able to find a solution. Perhaps one of our other blog readers will be able to come up with an idea.

    Thanks for reading the IT Training Tips blog!

    Donna

  38. Mia Says:

    I had the same question as above. I would love to be able to use the voting buttons – but give the voters the comfort of staying ananymous. Please keep me in the loop if you find a solution. Thank you.
    Mia

  39. Donna Says:

    Mia,

    After much experimentation and research, I am confident that there is no easy way to do this with Outlook. This would be a useful feature, so maybe we should submit a request for that feature for the next version of Outlook.

    In the meantime, you may want to check out the application called sli.do. It allows you to send out polls and receive anonymous answers. Recipients can even use their smart phones to answer you. I recently wrote an article about it on this blog. It is called “Poll Your Audience – No Clickers Needed.”

    Best,
    Donna

  40. Debbie Says:

    I am using the vote buttons on a monthly basis and would like to know if there is anyway to save my customized buttons as a default instead of the simple yes/no/maybe currently used in Outlook 2010? This will save time an also show consistency month after month. If so, how?

    Thanks
    Debbie

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