How to know if someone has read your email or not
How to know if someone has read your email or not
Waiting for someone to respond to an important email can be a frustrating experience. Reasons for no correspondence could be that they are busy, avoid replying, haven’t read it yet or haven’t even received it.
This process is simplified in messaging apps like WhatsApp which show ticks to indicate delivery and when the message was read, but is there a similar thing for email? Unfortunately not, but there are several ways to find out if someone has seen your message or not.
Working with read receipts
The traditional way to find out if someone opened emails was to use the Read Acknowledgments feature. But it’s not universally available in all messaging apps.
If yours has it and it’s generally only available to business users, not consumers, you can enable it and it may work. However, recipients may see a pop-up window asking them to accept the read receipt being sent back to you. They can deny this request, which defeats the purpose.
Gmail – the free consumer version – doesn’t have a read receipt option, so you’ll have to use a third-party add-on which often involves paying a subscription. The Mac version of Outlook we tried for this article had the feature disabled, and most popular email apps on Android and iOS don’t offer it at all.
Another complication is that many email services don’t offer this feature. Gmail currently has no way to use read receipts unless you opt for a third-party option that often involves a subscription. Additionally, we found that our Mac version of Outlook also had the feature disabled while most popular email apps on Android and iOS don’t even have it as an option.
If you’re using the Outlook app on a Windows PC, you’re in luck, up to a point. To set up a read receipt, you must first launch the application, compose a new email, then click on the Choice tab at the top of the message window.
Here you will see two checkboxes: Request a delivery receipt and Request a read receipt. Check the latter and send the e-mail. If all goes well, you should receive notification that your email has been opened.
In our tests though, it wasn’t straightforward at all. Some email addresses filtered out the read receipt request entirely, while a private Gmail account displayed a chilling warning message for the recipient. And we didn’t find the option in the web version of Outlook at all – only options for what to do with read receipts received from other senders.
Thus, this old method is practically useless nowadays.
Use a third-party Gmail extension
Standard Gmail accounts do not support email tracking, as they are only for work and school versions, but you can use an extension to add this functionality.
Mailtrack is an example of this and the free tier allows unlimited tracking. To add Android compatibility and other advanced features, you’ll need to upgrade to Pro, with prices starting at $4.99 (around £4) per month.
To install Mailtrack, open Gmail in a web browser on a desktop computer and navigate to the Chrome Web Store. Search for Mailtrack and click on the one from mailtrack.io. Click the Add to Chrome button and once you’ve gone through the various agreements and the app is installed, you’re ready to test it out.
Go to Gmail (www.gmail.com) then create a new email. You will notice that there are now two green down arrows next to the Send button. Click on it and you will open the Mailtrack settings. Make sure it’s on, then close it, complete your email as usual, and click Send.
If all goes well, you should receive an email as soon as the recipient opens your message, with the added bonus that they can’t opt out of sending the notification.
The free version of Mailtrack adds a signature to your message so the person knows you are using the service. This can be removed if you pay for Pro.
Mail Tracking Services
If you need to monitor email opens for your business, besides Mailtrack there are other services that allow you to get read receipts as well as other things designed for email marketing . You could get a variety of features, such as newsletter creation.
Two of the most popular are Bananatag and ContactMonkey, both of which offer a range of price points depending on the number of features included in the package.
These services monitor, among other things, whether people have opened e-mails using a “tracking pixel”. This is a small image that the user will not notice, but it is loaded when they open the email. These may or may not violate data protection laws such as GDPR, CCPA and others, depending on the information they collect.
Also, like read receipts, users can usually prevent them from loading by setting their email app to not load any external images unless they say so or the email is from a person on the “safe senders” list.
Ultimately, if you are a private user and want email read receipts, then Mailtrack is your best bet.