You know the feeling. That feeling when you wish you could get a “read notification” or read receipt in Gmail.

You click the send button, and then wait.

And wait. And keep waiting.

It seems like most of your working hours are spent waiting for a response for this or that important email. You wish you could receive a read receipt from Gmail so you know whether or not to chase the recipient. 

But what if I told you there was a way to stop the waiting? A way to know immediately if someone read the important email you just sent them?

If that’s something that’s exciting to you, I have good news.

I want to start tracking my emails

It exists!

Read Notification in Gmail: Setting it Up

In this article, you’ll learn how to track emails in Gmail. After reading this, you’ll know how to get a read notification in Gmail. Plus, you’ll learn how to use those read notifications to increase your productivity, get more done, and use email more efficiently.

Once you’ve set up a read notification or Gmail read receipt, you’ll have a guaranteed way to start tracking your emails. You’ll know who reads your emails and when.

Let’s jump in!

I want to start tracking my emails


How read notifications work

To fully understand how read notifications work, we need to look at the early days of email.

As a brief refresher: before Gmail was even around, there was a program called America Online. You might remember it best by its loading screen, which took approximately 9.62 minutes to connect to the Internet.

read notification tracking emails

While AOL had its frustrations, they were mostly just frustrations that came with the early days of the internet.

But there were a few developments. One of the features that AOL transformed into a mainstream way of communication was email, but it had a problem.

There was no way to tell if someone opened the email!

To remedy this, a “read notification” feature was added. This tool was a simple way to get notified when someone read your email.

(Though I don’t know for certain, I imagine this was after a few hundred people wrote “can emails be traced” on AOL message boards.)

Technically, they’re known as Message Disposition Notifications or MDN. But most people refer to them as read notification or read receipts.

Recipients would get a little popup box asking if they had read the email, and if they chose to let you know, you’d get notified that they had received it.

It was a handy feature, but it didn’t get updated in the decades since AOL.

And when Google rolled out its free email service Gmail, it included the same basic functionality. Essentially, it ensures you receive a Gmail read receipt. The only problem was that things had changed a bit since then, and those read notifications or Gmail read receipts weren’t quite as useful as they had once promised.


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The problem with read notifications in Gmail

If you’re a current user of Gmail, you might be glad to know that there’s an option to include read notification or a Gmail read receipt on each of your emails. You can also find help on requesting or returning a read receipt. 

But unfortunately, that’s about where the good news ends. You see, Gmail is plagued with a variety of problems with the read notification (or Gmail read receipt) service.

First and foremost, it’s not available in most versions of Gmail. If you have a personal account (that is, one that ends with as opposed to or, you don’t have the feature to receive a Gmail read receipt.

It’s simply not included unless you’re using Gmail in combination with another email service.

If you want to check if you have the feature, you can easily find out. Just compose a new email and click the arrow in the lower left-hand corner.

read notification how to track emails

If you have read notifications or Gmail read receipt enabled, it’ll appear in the pop-up menu that shows up.

As you can see, I don’t have the feature since this is on my personal Gmail account. I’ve experimented with a handful of lab features (like the canned responses), but in case you were wondering, there isn’t a lab feature for tracking Gmail opens, either.

I want to start tracking my emails


read notification track an email

Second, read notifications or Gmail read receipts don’t show up on every email provider. They’re still fully functioning in programs like Thunderbird and Outlook, but don’t work in less common programs.

The tool is best used by a company with employees that all utilize the same system, like a corporate office that has a system-wide installation of Microsoft Outlook.

And finally, read notifications or Gmail read receipt aren’t foolproof. In my mind, this is the biggest flaw. Because even if they show up for the recipient, he or she can just ignore the Gmail read receipt request.

In Gmail, read notifications just pop up as a yes/no option. You can either send a Gmail read receipt or not.

read notification tracking email

Of course, someone who doesn’t want to reply at the moment will probably select not to send the Gmail read receipt, which undoes the whole point.

For a feature designed to know if someone’s read your email because they haven’t replied, this is almost the worst possible way to go about it.

So, how can a hopeful sender track emails?

Thankfully, there’s a better way.

There’s a way to know if someone read your email. It avoids outdated 1990’s technology that doesn’t even work in today’s complicated email environment.


I want to start tracking my emails

A better way to set up read notifications

Today, the emails you get from mailing lists and other formal communications can easily track whether or not you read their emails by using a tiny invisible pixel buried in the body of the email.

When your browser loads this image, it pings the email server the company is using, and they can target you based on that action.

You might get a follow-up email if you didn’t open, for example, or be put on a new list of interested potential buyers if you did.

Unfortunately, that software is expensive and comes with legal requirements. Different countries have their own anti-spam legislation that prevents you from emailing people using these email management software.

But there is a way to apply that functionality to your personal Gmail inbox. There’s a simple way to start Gmail email tracking without the complications and expense of email management software.

Since you aren’t emailing a massive list of contacts, you don’t need to worry about international laws any more than you would by emailing a friend or business contact otherwise.

But you still get the powerful features of the software, like knowing whether your recipient opened the email or clicked a link.

ContactMonkey is that Gmail email tracker. Get started by downloading it free and installing it. It’ll load automatically into your Gmail interface.

Once you’ve downloaded it, you can set up read notifications quickly. Just compose a new email.

read notification track emails

In the compose box that pops up, you’ll find a few new ContactMonkey features. You want to make sure Track Message and Track Links are active.

They’re selected by default, but I always like to double-check.

read notification email open tracking

If they’re enabled, congratulations! You’re ready to start tracking emails in Gmail.

I want to start tracking my emails

Email open tracking for better communication and more sales

So, you’ve downloaded ContactMonkey and you’ve sent a few emails to be tracked in Gmail.

How does ContactMonkey help you know what’s happening to your emails once you send them off into cyberspace?

First, you’ll get a desktop notification whenever someone opens your email. The notification is an excellent way to keep track and take immediate action if you need to.

(If you find this feature distracting, you can easily disable it in ContactMonkey’s settings.)

Second, you can track all opens of the email from the email itself. Just refer to the ContactMonkey bar at the beginning of each email.

You can see the total number of email opens, the total number of link clicks (if applicable), and the last time the email was opened.

read notification can emails be traced

Third and finally, you can track the overall results of your email campaigns over the course of days or weeks. Click on the stats icon in the ContactMonkey sidebar, and you’ll be presented with the breakdown of all the emails you’ve sent recently.

It’s a great way to see when you sent your most useful emails, how well your emails performed, and how quickly your recipients opened those emails.

read notification gmail email tracking

For example, most of my recipients open my emails about two hours after I send them.

It’s a good rule of thumb because now I know how to record and track an email better before I send it.

For sales emails, I can expect a turnaround time of around two hours, meaning I need to plan ahead. An email sent at 4:00 pm on Friday probably won’t get read until Monday, so I should change my emails to Friday morning whenever possible.

When you use dependable read notifications, you can easily adjust your email habits to amplify better the results of every email you send.

Wrapping up: The power of correct read notifications

If you’ve grown frustrated with the lack of useful read notifications in Gmail, now you can rest easy.

ContactMonkey provides a straightforward and easy way for tracking emails and knowing exactly who read them and when.

Instead of relying on a relic of AOL and the dial-up Internet of the 1990’s, you can experience features that do what you want them to.

You can use read notifications to respond to emails more efficiently, save time, and close more sales.

With this feature in mind, how will you use it to accomplish more? Will you increase the effectiveness of each email you send, or extend its capabilities even further?

Whatever you do, it’s time to get started.

Convinced of the power of email tracking? Want to learn how to track your internal emails using ContactMonkey? We can set up a personalized demo for you and your team. Just start your free trial if you want to track your sales emails. Do little, achieve greatness!

I want to start tracking my emails