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Read Receipts

Judith from MA asks:

Is there any way for me to check to see if an e-mail I’ve sent had been opened / read?

Judith, each mail provider uses different protocols and procedures for everything, so I can’t be certain whether this advice will answer your question. But, we’ll give it a try.

What you’re talking about is a so-called “read receipt”. This is kind of like a return receipt from the post office. It tells you that the e-mail has been received by the recipient’s servers. The providers who do not have a read receipt option frequently cite privacy concerns as their reason.

Yahoo, Gmail and Hotmail, probably the three most popular web-based e-mail programs do not offer return receipts. AOL once offered this service when you sent a mail to another AOL mail client, but apparently disabled it.

Incredimail has a read receipt option in their new mail window.


The Windows Mail server (formerly Outlook) also offers this service in their new mail window from the tools menu.


One caution is that, in order for the read receipt to work, the receiver’s e-mail server has to support it as well.

Probably the easiest and most reliable way to discover if a recipient has read an e-mail is to include a short note in your outgoing e-mail requesting that they send a brief reply to let you know that they’ve received and read it.

Any important information that you send, information that you need concrete evidence of having sent, is still best sent through the U. S. mail with a return receipt request.

For more on read receipts, take a look at this Worldstart tip.

Hope this helps.

~Randal Schaffer