How to tell if an email has been read in Gmail without Google’s outdated read receipt

Gmail read receipts are an old-fashioned system of letting you know if your email has been read, but they aren’t foolproof. They’re inspired by Outlook’s 1990s approach to read confirmation, in which:

  1. The sender assumes knowing if an email was opened or not is optional.
  2. This implies the recipient might not be interested in knowing their message was read.
  3. The email sending and receiving experience is transformed into an unnatural form of communication, in which you don’t know if your recipient didn’t open the email or declined the read receipt instead. 
  4. As a result: most recipients are invited to reject read receipt requests, especially considering the forceful way in which such requests are technically implemented.

This is an extremely limited way of understanding communication through emails. That is why it is not used in today’s popular messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn use this method. Imagine exchanging messages through mobile and being bothered everytime your contact sends you something. “Read receipt requested,” says the annoying pop-up. Just like Google Workspace (formerly GSuite) users (and Outlook’s users in the 1990s) see:

Gmail’s official read receipt only works if reader authorizes it.

The problem is not simply not knowing if you were read because your recipient declined a Gmail read receipt. What is really the issue here is how ineffective this communication becomes.

Would you ever talk with someone if you’re not sure they’re listening to you? Would you ever deny a package because the sender is tracking the delivery?

That’s why we’ve created Mailtrack. We want email communication to be as natural and effective as any other form of human communication.

An improved alternative to Gmail’s read receipt 

It is with the objective of improving Gmail’s system of read confirmation that Mailtrack has created its patented email tracking system. Mailtrack works in two ways:

  1. It tells you if your emails have been opened or not, and how many times, through its pixel-based tracking system.
  1. It allows you to know anytime you receive a tracked email from someone else with Mailtrack’s Incoming tracked email indicator.

Mailtrack’s email tracker, together with its incoming tracked indicator, makes email tracking information available to everyone. It normalizes the use of open tracking systems, which leverages email communication to the level of other channels used by all of us on a daily basis, such as mobile messaging apps.

Other limitations of Gmail’s read receipts

Not only is the concept behind Google’s email solution old-fashioned, it’s extremely complicated to set up and use.

Gmail’s native receipt confirmation option is specifically for Google Workspace users only (not free Gmail accounts). The Google Workspace administrator needs to turn on the “request read receipt” option for addresses in the organization. Once you send a read receipt in Gmail in this way, the recipient will be given the option to decline. They’ll be given the option to decline the next time they open the email and any time after that, as well. 

A standard Gmail read receipt only tells you so much. So, it’s pretty much a dead end. On the other hand, Mailtrack uses a different type of technology to get email data in a much more reliable way. Let’s turn to Mailtrack’s capability and see what users can do with the program.

Get effective read receipts with Mailtrack.io

With the free version of Mailtrack, any email can be sent with automatic receipt tracking. The recipient won’t be asked if they want to accept or decline the read receipt since it’s automatic. A watermark indicates in every message that the “Sender [is] notified by Mailtrack.”

You don’t need to worry about whether they have Gmail or another email client since Mailtrack will work in the same way.

How to set up Mailtrack’s read receipts

To get Mailtrack’s Gmail read receipt functionality, all you need to do is install the Mailtrack extension. After that, you’ll see two green checkmarks next to the “Send” button in a new email window in Gmail. It looks like this:

Mailtrack’s checkmarks for Gmail are highly reliable for read confirmation.

Automatically, Mailtrack is already set up to send read receipts with each email. If you click on the two checkmarks, you can turn the option off for a specific email by clicking the toggle switch (shown below). There’s also an option to disable real-time popup notifications for that particular email by clicking the bell icon. You’ll still get an email notification when the recipient opens your email for the first time.

Mailtrack allows you to activate email and popup notification for read receipts.

We’ve been talking about read receipts so far, but there’s much more data you get from Mailtrack than a simple receipt the first time someone opens your message. For starters, you can get real-time desktop notifications every time someone opens your message. That can help you track how engaged someone is with a particular message or newsletter.You can also track when recipients click links in your emails. You can either get an email notification at the first click or a real-time popup for every click. Mailtrack can notify you when an old message is opened after a long time, and it can notify you when a particular message has been opened frequently over a short period of time.

With these different features, Mailtrack can give you insight into your emails that goes beyond Gmail’s standard read receipt. Check out the link below to try Mailtrack for free.