Gmail Read Receipts: A Keeping Guide
Read receipts are only available if you are using Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) as part of an organization enabled by an administrator. But powerful third-party options are also available.
Email management is important for workers, teams and individuals who want to be more productive with their time. When you send a significant email, it’s often desirable to know whether that email has been received or read, and you’ll be interested in an email provider that offers this capability.
Many individuals are already using Gmail to manage their email, and might be wondering whether Gmail can offer read receipts. Of course, using the software that we are already most comfortable with is the best way to get the most out of email and ensure that we are hitting our goals.
Asking recipients whether they have read your email means you can rest assured that your email has hit their inbox. You don’t have to worry that it somehow got lost, ended up in spam, or failed to deliver, and then hopefully your recipient will follow up with a response.
Relying on Gmail read receipts means you can move on to the next task, confident that your email is on its way.
What is a Gmail read receipt?
A Gmail read receipt is a confirmation message that is returned to the sender after the recipient has received and opened your email. It tells you that your email has hit the mark and allows you to make an informed decision about whether to follow-up.
Usually, a Gmail read receipt is optional so it is possible that someone receives your message but they don’t send a read receipt. This can be confusing because you don’t know whether your email has been read or not, so read receipts are not a perfect solution by any means. Gmail users can use them to assess the probability that your email has been read but avoid using them as a guarantee.
On the other hand, a Gmail read receipt can provide assurance that your email has not ended up in the spam or junk folder by mistake, and gives you more confidence that the email is being dealt with by the recipient. A read receipt does at least tell you that your email has ended up in the right place.
Note that Gmail read receipts are not available for every user – more on this later.
Why are read receipts important?
Read receipts in Gmail are important because you can find out whether your message has hit its target. This gives better accountability for your work because you then know that the channels of communication are open, and there are no roadblocks to delivering your message.
As long as the recipient has received your message, you can rest assured that your job has been done. If you know the message has been read, you can make an informed decision about whether to follow up and if further communication is required – if you might need to drop them a phone call, for example.
If you request a Gmail read receipt, you can obtain confirmation that the email hasn’t been missed among a busy inbox, ended up in spam, or arrived in the junk folder. With users receiving hundreds of emails a day, sometimes it’s nice to have the assurance that they have noticed your email and that they will attend to it.
Gmail users who are marketers and salespeople in particular may be very interested to know whether their recipients have read their email in order to analyze the success of their campaigns. If an email has not been read, this can influence the messaging that you choose in your follow-up emails.
That all being said, there is no guarantee that a recipient has read your email even if they confirm your read receipt request.
Why is there no read receipt option in Gmail?
As it stands, read receipts are only available if you are using Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) as part of an organization enabled by an administrator. Personal Gmail accounts do not have the option to confirm read receipts as this is considered an advanced feature that requires a professional plan.
Even if your account is controlled by an administrator, you still might not be able to see the option to request read receipts because the administrator has not enabled it. Your administrator must turn on this function in the control panel before you can ask for a read receipt for your emails. Once they’ve updated the user settings, you should be able to send read receipts when you compose new emails.
Administrators have the choice of deciding whether to turn on only for email addresses within the organization or allow them for every email address.
What tools can I use to know if an email has been read?
If you are a user with a personal Gmail account, there are several third-party tools you can integrate with Gmail to obtain the functionality of a read receipt. With these software solutions, you can keep using Gmail but add those extra features which you consider vital to your workflows.
Boomerang is a popular third-party tool for Gmail that offers a host of features. One of these features is a request read receipt, with ten complementary credits you can use each month to track your emails. Boomerang read receipts also tell you whether recipients have clicked on the links you included, making this a top choice for marketers and salespeople.
Right Inbox is another tool you can use to integrate with Gmail by downloading the Chrome extension. Right Inbox’s Email Tracker feature lets you see whether an email has been opened by a recipient, the links they’ve clicked, the device they used and their location. If you want a detailed rundown of your recipients, then Right Inbox is a good solution.
MailTrack offers a free browser extension for Gmail which you can turn on to see whether your emails have been read by looking at the ticks next to your message. Much like WhatsApp, the double ticks shown by your message turn green when your message has been read, and you can also use MailTrack to see how many times an email has been read.
How do you check if an email has been read?
Usually, if you have turned on read receipts in Gmail then you will receive an email once your recipient has confirmed the email has been read. As confirmation is optional, you may find that someone has read your email but they haven’t sent a read receipt. This is one of the limitations of read receipts in Gmail, since it is important that recipients retain freedom in how they respond to emails.
Sometimes, a provider will allow the recipient to mark an email as read without actually opening it, which will affect the accuracy of your read receipts when this happens. It’s important not to rely totally on your read receipts to tell you whether someone has read your email, and to follow up in good time if you don’t hear from them.
Read receipts are an indicator, not a guarantee, and should be used with caution.
How do I put a read receipt on an email?
Before following these instructions, you need to make sure that your administrator for Google Workspace has turned on the read receipt function in the administrative console. If it is not turned on, the option to request a read receipt will not appear in your emails.
To request a read receipt in Gmail:
- Make sure you are logged into your Gmail account.
- Select the “compose” button to write your new email, which you can see at the top-left-hand corner of the screen when using Gmail on a desktop.
- Compose your email as you would normally and get ready to send.
- Select the down arrow that you can see next to the blue “Send” box. Further options will appear.
- Select “request read receipt” to turn on the read receipt.
- Hit “Send” to send your email with a read receipt requested.
Note that you have to turn on “request read receipt” every time you compose and send a new email, and that there is no way to enable this option automatically. You should always remember that a recipient can also confirm read receipt without actually reading the email, so this process is not always a guarantee.
It’s also the case that when sending bulk emails, you will not see the option to see read receipt.
How do you tell if an email has a read receipt in Gmail?
In Gmail, you can’t tell whether an email has a read receipt without using a third-party plugin to track opens. You simply have to wait for a confirmation email to land in your inbox confirming read receipt, otherwise you won’t know whether a recipient has opened your email. As a result, emails requesting a read receipt look no different to those that have not had a read receipt requested.
If you are receiving an email, the message will tell you whether the sender has requested a read receipt and you can choose from the following options:
- To send the receipt now, select “Send receipts”.
- To send the receipt later, select “Not now”. Your mail provider will prompt you to send the receipt the next time you open the message.
If you send a receipt, the recipient will receive an email telling them that you have read the message.
Can you get read receipts by email?
Getting read receipts by email is the only way to receive a read receipt in Gmail, unless you use third-party software such as MailTrack which will show you whether or not your email has been read next to your email. The third-party solutions all have different ways of indicating whether an email has been read, compared to the standard email confirmation that Gmail uses.
How do I turn on read receipts in Gmail?
As we’ve mentioned, being able to turn on read receipts in Gmail requires you to be an administrator for your organization. If you are using a personal Gmail account, this step won’t work.
The administrator is required to turn on the setting for read receipts in Gmail for their organization. Follow these steps to turn on enable read receipts:
- Make sure you are logged into your Google Workspace admin account by visiting admin.google.com.
- Select “Apps” on the homescreen.
- Select “Google Workspace Core Services”.
- Next, select the Gmail icon (avoiding the checkbox located next to it).
- Select “User Settings”.
- Finally, edit the “Email read receipts” option. You can choose from “disallow all”, “only allow between addresses at the organization and whitelisted addresses”, or to “allow them to be sent to any email address”.
Now, your Gmail read receipts will be turned on and users can start sending them to their recipients using the read receipts feature.
Does regular Gmail have read receipts?
Unfortunately, regular or personal Gmail does not currently offer read receipts to its users. It is considered an advanced feature that is only available to users who are part of an organization, and must be turned on by an administrator. Gmail doesn’t offer a way for you to upgrade to utilize this feature so your only option is to adopt a third-party plugin that does this for you.
Luckily, there are a host of options for you to choose from that will extend the function of Gmail to include read receipts or the equivalent. You can choose a provider that tracks your recipients in your preferred way, so you can monitor their activity without intruding on their email experience.
What are the limitations of Gmail read receipts?
Although the Gmail read receipt option is highly useful, it does have some limitations that you need to watch out for.
- Recipients can avoid giving you a read receipt – Gmail read receipts are optional, so users may actually read your email but fail to send you a receipt. This leaves you in the dark about whether your email has been read and wastes valuable time.
- Read receipts can quickly clog up your inbox – if you request too many read receipts, they will start to fill up your inbox as many participants are confirming that they have received and read your email.
- Read receipts don’t necessarily guarantee that the recipient has read your email – some providers will allow the user to mark an email as read, which will send a read receipt even when they haven’t read it. Users might also open and send a read receipt while ignoring the body of the email.
- Read recipients don’t mean that a recipient will reply to your email – it’s all well and good getting a read receipt, but what if the recipient doesn’t actually take any action? You may still be setting yourself up for disappointment.
- It can be hard to keep track of your read receipts if you get a lot of email – Gmail’s way of tracking read receipts is to send you an email, which can get lost in your inbox if you receive a lot of mail.
Ascertaining whether or not someone has read your email is an important part of managing email. Sometimes, having accountability is part of your job and you’ll need to demonstrate that your emails have reached their intended target. Naturally, you can’t control whether someone actually replies to your email but at least a read receipt gives you some idea of whether your message has hit the mark.
Personal users of Gmail shouldn’t despair if they don’t have the option to confirm read receipts in their account. The availability of third-party plugins means that Gmail can be customized to suit your needs. Many teams still rely heavily on email to communicate with stakeholders so confirming a read receipt can be a crucial way to analyze the success of your messages.
Communication can be difficult and the Gmail read receipt option provides a way of streamlining the process.
It’s important to use read receipts judiciously as some people may find them intrusive, so opting for third-party software that tracks whether email has been read can be a better solution.
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