How to Tell If Someone Has Read a Sent Email

By Ashley Poland

If you want to know when a recipient has read an email, you'll want to use what's called a "Read Receipt." It's exactly what it sounds like: a receipt that tells you when your email has been opened. There are several different services for this tool. If you have a Gmail account for business, education or government, you have the option to enable return receipts. If you're looking for a free tool, you can use SpyPig. A commercial program for a fee would is DidTheyReadIt?

Gmail

Step 1

Launch a Web browser and navigate to Gmail (see Resources).

Step 2

Open your Gmail inbox and click "Compose."

Step 3

Fill out the email address in the To field and click the "Request Return Receipt" check box. This will request a read receipt from every recipient, whether they're in the To, CC or BCC fields.

Step 4

Fill out the rest of your email, including the subject and the body of the email. Once you've sent the email, you can open the sent message and check the bottom of the message to see who has read the message and when.

SpyPig

Step 1

Launch a Web browser and navigate to the SpyPig website (see Resources). Scroll down the page and you will find a boxed-in section headed with "SpyPig Factory." SpyPig uses an image with tracking built into the HTML, so recipients will need to be able to read HTML messages.

Step 2

Fill out the form details. SpyPig requires your email address and message subject so they can send you an email when your message is opened. You will also need to choose an image to include in your message. You can choose between the default images or upload your own.

Step 3

Click the "Click to Create My SpyPig" button. Copy the image before the counter reaches zero. Paste the image into the body of your email in whatever program you are using. When someone opens the email, SpyPig sends you an email with the details.

DidTheyReadIt?

Step 1

Launch a Web browser and navigate to the DidTheyReadIt? website. Sign up for an account. You can install the DidTheyReadIt program on your computer, but it is not necessary for using the service. You will need to use a single email address for tracking email messages. If you use an email address not affiliated with DidTheyReadIt, the email will bounce.

Step 2

Compose an email using the correct email address, and append the email address with ".didtheyreadit.com." For example, you would sent it to an address such as "user@domain.com.didtheyreadit.com." Only the correct email address will be visible to the recipient.

Step 3

Compose and send your email. When the message is opened, you will receive an email that tells you when the message was opened.

Tips & Warnings

  • Return receipts don't always work; some clients don't work with them, while others allow users to decline sending read receipts.
  • Some email clients will warn the user when an email they have opened requests a read receipt. In such cases, the user is given the option of stopping the read receipt, so if your recipient wants to be secretive, you will not get confirmation back. Unfortunately there is no absolute way to confirm that someone reads your email, but in most cases, a recipient will not have a reason to keep this information from you.