How to know if an email has been received

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Valery Aloyants
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Preliminary information

Before taking action and figuring out how to activate the receiving or reading notifications for emails, it is good to clarify a couple of fundamental points. First of all, this type of service is not infallible: it may happen, for example, that the email application of the recipient of the email blocks the notification of receipt, or that it is not able to manage it at all (as happens for example with Mail for macOS), so it will still be impossible to understand whether the message has been received or not.

Furthermore, in some cases, the recipient displays a message regarding the request for notification from the sender before it is even sent: as regards this possibility, the latter can manually choose whether or not to send the confirmation, responding in a manner affirmative or negative to the above message.

Finally, except for very few scenarios (which I will talk about later), the receipt / read notification can only be requested through e-mail management programs, and not through a web client: this means, for example, that it is possible to send an acknowledgment of receipt from an e-mail address (e.g. if you use programs such as Thunderbird or Outlook Desktop, but it is not possible to proceed by sending e-mail via the website.

How to know if an email has been received from a PC

Now that you have all the information and recommendations of the case, it's time to take action and understand how to send a notification of reading from the computer: below I am going to illustrate the most well-known e-mail programs that allow you to make use of this possibility.

Outlook (Windows / macOS)

The first program I want to tell you about is Outlook, the e-mail client included in the Microsoft Office suite: it is an application available for both Windows and macOS, however the sending of read notifications has not been implemented in the version of the software dedicated to Macs.

To enable read notifications in Outlook for Windows, start the program by invoking it from Start menu or from Start Screen of the Microsoft operating system (accessible by clicking on the flag-shaped icon located in the lower left corner of the screen), after which, if this is the first time you use the program, you must configure your e-mail account.

To do this, press the button NEXT attached to the welcome screen that appears on the screen, check the box Yes, click the button again NEXT, fill out the following form with your email account information (Your namePostal addressPassword) and presses the button again NEXT.

Once this is done, wait for the program to verify the network settings (it may take several seconds); if necessary, type the Windows password in the proposed screen and make sure that the wording is shown in the Outlook screen The e-mail account has been set up and can be used, dopodiché pigia sul pulsnte end to access the mail management screen.

If this procedure does not have the desired result, or if you have an email account that Outlook is unable to configure automatically, I urge you to consult my specific guides on how to set up Outlook and how to set up Outlook with Gmail.

Completed (if necessary) the configuration phase and started Outlook, press the button New email message located at the top left to access the message composition screen, and fill in the various items (The ...DC…Subjectbody of the message and any attachments) to create the email you want to send.

Once this is done, click on the item options placed at the top, put the check mark next to the boxes Request delivery confirmation (to know when the recipient receives the message) e Request read confirmation (to know when the message is read), then presses the button Send located on the left to send the message.

This way, when the recipient downloads / reads the message, you will receive a notification message (if you have Windows 10) or a "fake mail" from Outlook.

Remember, as I have already explained to you, that in some cases the recipient may see a message relating to the confirmation request, and possibly block its sending: if so, you may not receive the reception / reading notifications at all, despite the fact that the email is actually been downloaded and opened.

Thunderbird (Windows / macOS / Linux)

If you don't have Office available and therefore can't use Outlook, I suggest you give a chance to Thunderbird: This is a great free, open source, cross-platform email client (it's available for Windows, MacOS e Linux).

The procedure for requesting acknowledgments of messages in Thunderbird is practically the same for all software platforms. However, for clarity, I inform you that in this guide I will refer to the Windows version of the software.

Having said that, to get to work immediately, first download Thunderbird by going to the official website of the program and pressing the button Download. Then start the downloaded file and proceed with the setup following the instructions you see on the screen: if you are on Windows, for example, all you have to do is click on the button NEXT twice and then on the buttons Install end.

For MacOSinstead, you have to drag the program to the folder Applications of the Mac, and start the program from there by doing click destroy on its icon and selecting the item apri from the contextual menu proposed (this operation must be carried out only at the first start).

If this is the first time you use the program, you must configure your e-mail account within it: click, therefore, on the button Skip this step and use an existing address, then enter the required information (display nameemail addressPassword) on the next screen and presses the button Continue.

Now wait for Thunderbird to detect the optimal settings for the requested email address, then put the check mark next to the box IMAP and click sul pulsating Done. If the settings are incorrect or you should see any error messages, you can proceed with the manual configuration of the account by clicking on the button Manual configuration and filling out the following form with the settings related to your e-mail service.

If you need more specific information about the most popular providers, I invite you to consult my guides on how to configure Alice / TIM Mail mail, how to set up Gmail, how to configure Aruba mail, how to configure SMTP Fastweb, how to configure Libero mail and how to use Virgilio Mail on a mail client.

After completing the configuration phase and accessing the main Thunderbird screen, click on the button Write (located at the top left) to access the message composition window and fill in all the fields with the information required to form the email to be sent.

Finally, to activate delivery and read receipts, click on the item options and select the item Delivery status notification from the proposed menu, then repeat the operation by selecting the item Return receipt; after that, you just have to click on the button Send (located at the top left) to send everything.

When the recipient receives and / or reads the email you sent, Thunderbird will take care of notifying you via an email message. Keep in mind that, even in this case, the effectiveness of the procedure may depend on the program used by the recipient of your e-mail message and whether or not to confirm the sending of the requested notifications.

Apple Mail (macOS)

If you have a Mac and you do not intend to rely on third-party programs to manage e-mail, you can request the sending of receipt notifications through the program Mail, applying a little "trick" from the Terminal. Before proceeding, however, I want to warn you that you will have to repeat this procedure each time you send an e-mail message for which you intend to view the read notification.

Also remember, as I have mentioned several times in this guide, that the recipient is not always able to manage this notification: for example, if the recipient of your message uses Mail in turn, you will not receive the return receipt under any circumstances. , since the program can send (after modification) but is not capable of handling similar messages.

That said, it's time to get down to business: first, start the terminal calling it from the folder Other of Launchpad, then type in the command defaults write UserHeaders ‘{“Disposition-Notification-To” = “Nome “; }’, taking care to replace a Name the recipient's name and e-mail address (eg.  knowingkings ), and press the button Submit sulla tastiera of the computer.

Once this is done, start the program Mail calling it from the Dock (the stamp), click on your button New message located at the top left, compose the email to be sent by filling in the required fields and send it by pressing the button Send (the button denoted byletter aeroplanino): when the recipient reads the message, you will receive a second e-mail message containing the return receipt.

To disable the return receipt request for the last recipient set, open the Terminal once again and type the command defaults delete UserHeaders, always followed by Submit.

How to know if an email has been received from smartphones and tablets

Do you have a smartphone or tablet and want to activate read receipts for your email messages? Do not worry, in this section you will find what is right for you: below, in fact, I will show you how to use the apps for this purpose K-9 Mail to AndroidiTrackMail to iOS, both free and easy to set up.


If you have a terminal equipped with the operating system Android, download and install the app K-9 Mail by accessing the appropriate section of the Play Store (the icon in the shape of colored triangle resident in the list of apps installed on your device), or by pressing this link, if you are consulting the guide from your Android device.

Once the installation phase is complete, start the app and configure the e-mail account you used: then press the button Following placed at the bottom; when requested, type your e-mail address and the password to access the latter and tap the button again Following to allow K-9 Mail to detect the optimal settings.

If the app is not able to automatically set everything, tap the button Manual configuration and fill in the following fields with the requested information: if you do not know how to proceed, I invite you to consult the guides that I have reported to you in the section relating to the Thunderbird program for computers.

Once the email account has been imported, click on its name (eg. Outlook) residing in the main panel of the app, grant it (if necessary) the permission to access the contacts by pressing the button Allow, presses the button in the shape of envelope located at the bottom, to access the compose screen, and fill in all the fields required to create the email to be sent.

Once this operation is complete, press the button  collocato in alto a destra and seleziona la voce Read notification from the small menu proposed, then tap the button in the shape of paper airplane to send your message immediately: when it is opened by the recipient, K-9 Mail will automatically send you a notification.

Always keep in mind, as repeated several times in this guide, that the recipient of the message may block the sending of the notification or have a client not compatible with it.


For iPhone e iPad, the app I recommend you use for know if an email has been received, responds to the name of iTrackMail: working in "collaboration" with the Mail client, already installed in iOS, this app allows you to obtain notification of receipt by automatically inserting an image in the message sent.

Consequently, when the “tracer” image is downloaded by the recipient, the app is able to understand if the message has been received and to send a notification to the sender. Before going further, I want to warn you that the free version of iTrackMail inserts a real image into the message, while its paid version (downloadable upon in-app purchase at the price of 5,49 €) makes the tracking banner completely invisible.

Having made this necessary premise, it's time to take action: to begin with, download and install iTrackMail directly fromApp Store (or from this link, if you are reading my tutorial from iPhone or iPad) and proceed with the installation as usual. Once this is done, start the app and press the button Allow to allow it to send notifications, then tap the compose button located at the bottom left (the icon in the shape of a sheet with pencil).

At this point, type in the form immediately following theobject of your message, then proceed to the composition using the next screen (which, in fact, is that of Mail); when the message is ready, tap the button Send placed at the top right and that's it: when the recipient downloads the message, iTrackMail will automatically send you a notification on the screen.

Furthermore, by selecting one of the messages sent from the main screen of the app, you will be able to view other statistics related to the email in question (e.g. the number of times it has been read or the program / app used by the recipient): Please note, however, that this information is not always accurate.

Other ways to know if an email has been received

If you have made it this far, it means that you have finally acquired the basic notions to know if an email has been received or not, however you keep wondering if this possibility is also available for web clients, i.e. for emails that can be consulted. via the browser. I'm sorry to tell you that the answer, in this sense, is mostly negative: most of the free mail services, in fact, do not provide this possibility either in sending or in receiving.

However, I want to point out to you, among the few Web services that include the receipt of return receipts, G Suite for Work: the email included in Google's paid service, which allows you to request and obtain return receipts with a few simple steps. If you wish, you can try G Suite for Work for free for 14 days by following the instructions on this page, and then proceed to sign up for a subscription, with prices starting from 4 euro / month.

Finally, I have to make you a fundamental clarification: the confirmation notifications received through one of the techniques mentioned above cannot in any way assume legal value. The only way to obtain this type of result, however, is to rely on Certified mail (o PEC): it is in fact possible to activate a special service notification of receipt for messages sent through this type of email. In this case, the notifications of receipt relating to messages sent via PEC take on the same value as the return receipt of a "classic" registered A / R.

If you find yourself in a situation of this type, and you need further clarification regarding the creation of a Certified Mailbox, I invite you to consult my in-depth analysis on how to create a PEC email: I'm sure you will find what you have need.

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