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Submitted by JMStahl on


I know this seems like a pointless question but what are you thoughts on read receipts?  I have usually tagged all my email with them (automatically through Outlook) but I am rethinking my original logic.  It is nice to know when a message is read but how do you know if it is really read?

How many of you put read receipts on email?  Are they a waste of my time?  Maybe for selected email only?

ken_wills's picture

I can't think of a single example of a senior manager or executive using read receipts.  I only point that out because we often talk about behaving like those above you, and sending read receipts isn't something I've personally experienced coming from high levels.

Because Outlook gives me the option of NOT sending a receipt, I almost always do so (that is, I read the email, and use the option of not sending a receipt) - just because I can!

Finally, I've never once heard of the results of the function actually being used for anything, so what are they really worth?

Tuatara's picture

I used to use it because I was sure one of my directs was ignoring some of my e-mails and then claim he never received them. But then came to the conclusion that it still wouldn't do much good for the same reason Ken (above) stated, you can opt out of sending the response. The large number of receipts I would receive was not worth the need to get the occasional one.

Now, if it is a critical e-mail,  I just ring the person up (after a suitable time has elapsed for them to have seen it) to ensure they have received it. This is very rare as the troublesome direct has been moved on and other people were reliable.

pmoriarty's picture
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I have never used "read receipts".

When I used Outlook, I configured it to ignore all "read receipts".  My view is this: as with postal Mail, whether or not I choose to read an e-mail is my business. 


markwalsh99's picture
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I agree with Tuatara; if you really want to know if someone has read your email, talk to them.

M-T has taught me to move on from the idea that work is something that happens via email. Effective people who are professionally managing their time are not just sitting waiting to open an email from me.

I get enough email without the system generating read receipts from emails I've sent. So no, don't bother with them.

JMStahl's picture
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Thanks for all of the responses.  You have all helped clear this up for me and shown me the errors of my ways (in a good way!).  Thanks again!

jhack's picture

Sending a read request also sends additional messages.  

It tells the reader that you are monitoring their micro-behavior.  That you're tracking how "on top of" their email they are.  That you'll track the time between when they read and when they respond.  That you need to know when the email is opened  (and leaving the reader to wonder what you'll do with all this information).

Are these the messages you wish to send?  

John Hack

TomW's picture
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In addition to all the management-related reasons listed above, don't forget, the recipient can turn off receipts, so even if you use them, the other person can still set their email client to not send you a receipt.

Titan1969's picture

I have used this primarily for meeting date/reply's. I had certain staff members ( forgetting or ignoring ) not showing up for meetings. So I send out read receipts. I then track whos responded and who has not. I then call the person directly and verify they got the email. This worked very well and I now get regular receipts for meetings and everyone shows up or explains why they cant make it, right when I send the email.

Emails have been out of control at our company. We get company wide emails in regards to the "refrigerator" being cleaned out. This goes out to 200+ employees...very frustrating. I have begun discussions with management on ways to reduce this...and surprisingly it has helped!


Its not good enough to do your best. First you must know what to do, then do your best.    Edwards Deming

acao162's picture

I think those Read messages are the most irritating thing about e-mail.  If I want to respond to the message, I will.  I always hit "no".  First, they clutter up an inbox and second, they pop up when you open the mail.  Just because someone opens the message does not mean they read, acted on or understood the message.

Waste of time, in my opinion.

keithclove's picture


mikehansen's picture

E-mail is the least effective form of business communication to begin with.  The read receipt takes it to a new level of awful.  They are the equivalent to asking a person "Are you listening to me?" in a face to face conversation.  That typically does not go over well, and neither does the use of receipts.

Some of the comments above discuss following up a "critical e-mail" with a phone call.  I strongly suggest reversing those two actions.  If something is critical go talk to the person or call if you can not meet face to face.  E-mail them with a recap of the conversation if it is helpful to clarify action items, but talk to them first.  And no, IM is not just as good as talking to them.

my .02,


Gahddenbooi's picture

I only use delivery receipts when sending out notifications to all staff, regarding outages, bulletins or planned events which affect said recipients.

This provides a safety net when users claim they weren't aware a system was going down, and kick up a fuss about it.

Slightly offtopic: It also provides a good test of whether the left users have been removed from all distribution lists, including 'all staff', as part of the leaver's procedures. Chances are that if they're still on the distro list and I get a bounce message or an NDR, then the rest of the leaver's process hasn't been followed and presents a security risk which needs following up.