Sometimes when I am working with software in the Microsoft Office suite, I run into a bug or software glitch related to accessibility or assistive technology. Since I know how to use the feedback tool in Microsoft Office, I can easily report issues to Microsoft, as well as share features that I am excited about in different products. Knowing how to report issues is an important technology skill, so today I will be sharing how to use the feedback tool in Microsoft Office, with limited tech knowledge required.
What is the feedback tool in Microsoft Office?
The feedback tool in Microsoft Office is a tool that allows customers to send questions, thoughts, and concerns directly to developers on the Microsoft Office team responsible for the product or feature. Once the feedback tool is opened, users can easily type a message and include screenshots or additional contact information so that the developers can get a better idea of what is going on or ask clarifying questions as needed. While I typically use the feedback tool for talking about accessibility, it can be used for any issue related to a Microsoft Office product, including Word, PowerPoint, OneNote, Excel, Outlook, and Access.
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Where to find the feedback tool
Users can find the feedback tool by doing the following:
- Open the file tab in your Office 2016/Office 365 program of choice
- On the left sidebar under the “account” section, click “feedback”
- Select the appropriate feedback category from the following options:
- I like something
- I don’t like something
- I have a suggestion (opens UserVoice website)
Is this the same as technical support?
While Microsoft does respond quickly to issues, submitting something to the feedback tool does not provide immediate technical support. For customers with disabilities or who have questions about assistive technology, the Disability Answer Desk or accessibility phone numbers can provide immediate technical support with Microsoft products 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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How to write a helpful message in the Microsoft Office feedback tool
Here are my top tips for writing a helpful message in the Microsoft Office feedback tool:
- Share what you were doing before the issue or error occurred, such as inserting tables or opening a feature. This is important so that developers can replicate the issue
- Mention any assistive technologies you were using, such as screen readers, magnification, or high contrast displays. Don’t be afraid to provide software names or use technical terms about assistive technology- there are dedicated accessibility staff that can read through your reports, and many of them are also assistive technology users
- Describe the issue or error as much as possible, and make sure to share if the software crashed or if data was lost as well
- If the issue or error is associated with a specific feature, mention the name of the feature, such as the formula tab or page formatting menu
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Should I include screenshots? What about my email?
Besides writing feedback, users have the option to click checkboxes that will attach a screenshot or include the email address connected to the Microsoft account along with the message. These are entirely optional, but I have found that including screenshots is incredibly helpful for people who are trying to figure out what went wrong, especially when it comes to display scaling issues. As for including email, I frequently will give my email in case there are additional follow-up questions so I can ensure the issue is fixed or answer other questions as needed, though I know not everyone feels comfortable talking to developers over email.
Example messages I have sent
Here are some examples of messages I have sent using the feedback tool in Microsoft Office. Please note that all of these issues have been resolved since I sent these messages.
- “I use a high-contrast display and opened Outlook to check my email, and the sender name isn’t showing up with the inverted display. As a result, I have no idea who emailed me, though I can see the subject.”
- “When I used the control-v shortcut to paste a large amount of text, the screen grayed out and then the application crashed. I was able to recover the document with AutoSave but could not paste the text from my website.”
- “Design recommendations recommended me a really weird looking design with an unreadable font and poor contrast.”
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How Microsoft has reacted
As strange as it sounds, Microsoft really does read all of the feedback that comes through with the feedback tool. The emails I receive with further questions about my issue are from real Microsoft developers, and many of the bugs that I have reported have been fixed within a short amount of time. On a visit to Microsoft campus, one of the developers came to talk to my group and emphasized how the feedback tool is the best way to get in contact with Microsoft and get issues solved since the information goes directly to the relevant team.
I’m grateful that Microsoft has provided an easy way for users to learn how to use the feedback tool in Microsoft Office, and that they are able to fix reported bugs and issues with a quick turnaround time. Using the feedback tool has helped me a lot with Microsoft Office, and I hope that it does the same for you!