How to Tell if Emails Have Been Read

By Emmanuelle Douglas

Tracking an email's status by using read receipts can help you manage email. Read receipts are a feature you can activate to alert you if the message was opened and read. If the recipient declines this feature or reads the message in the preview pane, it can prompt a "Not Read" read receipt. Users should be aware that read receipts are not a guarantee the email was read by the recipient. The best way to know if a message has been read is to ask the recipient directly or send an email containing follow-up questions.

Step 1

Set up read receipts in Outlook by turning on this feature in tracking options. Open Outlook and select "Tools" on the menu bar. Select "Options" and the "Preference" tab. Select "Email Options." Open "Tracking Options." Click "OK" three times to process this feature.

Step 2

Check your email by pressing "F5." A read receipt will appear in the Inbox as an email with the subject line of "Read" or "Not Read" followed by the original subject of the email. If the recipient has turned off this feature or declined the receipt, you will get a "Not Read" read receipt.

Step 3

Confirm that the recipient has this feature turned on if you plan to track emails sent to the person. If she reads her email using the Outlook preview pane, you may get a "Not Read" read receipt. This occurs because she did not open the email. However, the recipient could have read the email's contents in the preview pane. This situation illustrates why read receipts are not completely accurate.

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