How can I find out if someone reads my email?

Nouri Alnahawi May 12, 2012

Maybe this is a newbie question, but I’d like to know, how can I tell if someone read the e-mails I had sent to them? I mean, can you find out if your e-mails go into spam or if you’re even on the blocked addresses list ?
I’d really appreciate your help guys, it’s really for a good cause.


  1. Rob Hindle
    May 19, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    The normal email read receipt mechanism requires the recipient to allow receipts to be sent.
    The "embedded image" solution only works if the recipient has images enabled in email (it works by hosting the image somewhere else with a unique file name - the email program will, if configured to fetch images, request that image. Normal webserver logging will see that request so it can be recorded and reported as read.

    When I sent bulk newsletters by email (to double opt-in lists and using commercial bulk email with reporting systems) the figure for "opened" is seldom as high as 50% although deliveries are reported as over 90%. That's using the image tracking option.

    As for any other commercial solution - If the "proof it's been read" needs to be at the level that it would stand up in court then I would only trust it the system if I knew the technical basis was something a lot smarter than tagged images.

    For example if you sent something to my account and filters decided it was spam then it's delivered but not read - or for that matter if it wasn't spam filtered but I looked at the sender/subject and sent it to trash unopened.
    If it is opened than as far as I can see the recipient computer has to take some action to inform the sender.
    The image tag works - if images are enabled, the return receipt works - if enabled I don't think there's any capability beyond that.
    You could track access to other remote filetypes an email might try to fetch the same as images - CSS or javascript maybe but the user still needs to be set up to accept HTML format email. It amounts to the same as the tagged image solution.
    Attaching/embedding a bit of program code - should be prevented from running by security software.
    Asking the recipient to take some action only works if they choose to comply.

  2. flutike
    May 19, 2012 at 9:45 am is good , free , just register and got all the inportant things , when and how many times the mail was opened sent the info to your inbox . The service placing an invizible dotpixel in the mail you sent .

  3. Michel Gaudette
    May 15, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    In my work (all corporate and institutional) I cannot afford to have a client tell me that he did not see my email. Years ago I decided to have a tracking mechanism to my emails for personal security purposes. There is 1 software solution and 1 software/web solution. The fist one is a program called msgtag ( The email is sent via their server and you get a confiration in your inbox when the email has been opened. The recipient of the email can be notified that a read receip will be sent out or might not, depending on your setting. The support is so so and it does a good basic job.

    Then we get to the Rolls Royce of tagging: The options are significant. The reports will track not only when the email was opened but for how long, if it was forward, if it was reopend, can delete messages and so on and so on. It is by far the best software out there and I have been using it for a few months and I am totally satisfied with the results (I am not affiliated with them)

  4. robynsc
    May 15, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    in addition to can get a delivery receipt. so when i send something to someone i really want to know if they got it and read it, i add a delivery receipt request AND a read receipt request. the delivery receipt is system generated and doesn't involve the recipient so you will at least know if it got delivered to their account. i don't know if it means it went to their inbox or their trash though ;-)
    the read receipt is tricky because, at least in outlook 2010, the recipient has the option of not responding to the read receipt request. so they can read it and you still won't know. hope that helped a little bit.

  5. Kannon Y
    May 14, 2012 at 4:23 am

    An ex-boss of mine used an online service that tracked whether or not her e-mails had been read by clients.

    She explained that there was something from the service (I'm not sure which service she used, but it was paid) that she embedded within the text of her e-mails. I assume this was an image of some kind that was hosted on another website's servers. Clicking on the link informed the service of who clicked on the link (because the link contained info on the receiver of the e-mail).

    I checked online and found a service called "Spypig" (but can't confirm whether or not my boss used this service). It appears to be the service described, but it's not certain.

    Just a warning - it may be slightly unethical to secretly check on whether or not someone has read an e-mail, since it's done without their consent. In my opinion, the read receipt request is the most ethical means of accomplishing your task. Anyway, good luck!

    • Nouri Alnahawi
      May 14, 2012 at 11:12 am

      Thanks a lot :)

      • Altaf
        September 18, 2012 at 6:15 am

        I just moved all my work from Win XP to Win 7 and using Outlook 2010 for emails. Since I did set up of my email accounts, outlook 2010 start send bunch of messages with subject "NOT READ".

        I will highly appreciate if you can give me a solution of this problem.

        Hong Kong

  6. Oron
    May 12, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    While institutional systems are often configured to provide read receipts (certainly Exchange based systems are), most private email systems are not.
    Even if a system provides read receipt, it's not a fullproof system, as any displaying of the message (e.g. having it displayed in the preview panel) will trigger the sending of the read receipt and does not mean that the person saw, let alone read, your message.
    Finally, some people think it is intrusive to "snoop" on their reading habits, which you should take into consideration.

    • Nouri Alnahawi
      May 12, 2012 at 11:02 pm

      Well I needed to check it with Yahoo mail, so it probably won't work, based on your info. But don't worry, I'm not gonna snoop around on anyone ;)

  7. Bruce Epper
    May 12, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    The easiest way is to send mails requesting a read receipt. If the recipient's client is configured to honor read requests, it will send an email to you stating your email has been read. Now, this can be misleading because the recipient's email client may not honor the request. It is also possible you will get a read receipt even if it wasn't actually read as the client assumes that if it was opened - even in a preview pane - that the mail was read which may not be the case.

    As far as knowing if it goes into spam or if it is blocked, you are out of luck.

    • Nouri Alnahawi
      May 12, 2012 at 10:29 pm

      Thanks a ton :) I hope this works.

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