How to Get a Read Receipt for a Mac Email

by Danielle Fernandez

Have you ever wondered where your email ends up after you click "send?" Some emails arrive as planned and are read without issue, but some must navigate through a maze of spam filters or, worse, get rejected and never end up in the inbox of your intended recipient. To get an idea of where your email ends up, you can request a read receipt, which essentially confirms via a reply email that the message has been opened by the reader. While the Mac Mail application does not have the read receipt feature enabled by default, it can be enabled by modifying the preference file with a few simple Terminal commands.

1

Launch the Terminal app by clicking "Applications" then "Utilities." Alternately, click "Go" at the top of your Desktop then pull down to "Utilities." Double-click on the Terminal icon.

2

Type "defaults write com.apple.mail UserHeaders '{Disposition-Notification-To" = "Your Name <emailaddress>";}'" (without the first and last quotation marks). Pay close attention to spaces and capitalization. Replace "Your Name" with your name and "emailaddress" with your email address. Press "Enter."

3

Quit and relaunch Apple Mail if it is already open

Tip

  • To remove the read receipt option, type "defaults delete com.apple.mail UserHeaders" (without quotation marks) into the Terminal command prompt. This deletes all custom headers and resets your original mail settings.

Warning

  • Read receipts are often misused by spammers and, as such, most mail clients offer the user the option to turn off read receipts. The absence of a returned read receipt doesn't necessarily indicate that your email has not been received.

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About the Author

Based in Tampa, Fla., Danielle Fernandez been writing, editing and illustrating all things technology, lifestyle and education since 1999. Her work has appeared in the Tampa Tribune, Working Mother magazine, and a variety of technical publications, including BICSI's "Telecommunications Distribution Methods Manual." Fernandez holds a bachelor's degree in English from the University of South Florida.

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