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.

For those whose working hours are spent waiting for a response to this or that important email, a read receipt from Gmail would let you know whether or not to chase the recipient.

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

Gmail read notifications let you see exactly who has opened your emails. No more wondering if your recipients have seen your message, no more anxious waiting.

Looking for easy email tracking? ContactMonkey provides in-depth metrics on your employee emails so you can see your whole email engagement picture. Book a free demo to learn how ContactMonkey can boost your open rates and more:

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How Read Notifications Work in Gmail

Read notifications in Gmail can increase your productivity so you can get more done and use your 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.

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

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

Despite its problems, AOL transformed into a mainstream method of communication—and was largely responsible for popularizing email.

People loved being able to send text-based messages to their friends and colleagues. But there was one problem: there was no way to tell if someone opened the email!

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

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 those Gmail read receipts weren’t quite as useful as everyone hoped…

How to Set Up Read Notifications in Gmail

If you are 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.

Enabling read receipts in Gmail is easy:

  1. In your Gmail inbox, click the Compose button to open a new email message window
  2. At the bottom right hand corner, click the three vertical dots.
  3. Select Request Read Reciept
  4. Your message is ready to send.

If you just tried this and didn’t see the Request Read Receipt option, you’re not alone.

The Problem with Read Notifications in Gmail

Gmail is plagued with a variety of problems with the read notification (or Gmail read receipt) service. These issues can even completely nullify the point of having read notifications to begin with.

Problem #1

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 three dots in the lower right-hand corner.

gmail read receipt

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

request read receipts

As you can see, I don’t have the feature on this 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.

Problem #2

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.

Problem #3

Read notifications or Gmail read receipt aren’t foolproof. Even if they show up for the recipient, he or she can just ignore the Gmail read receipt request.

In Gmail, read notifications just pops 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.

Problem #4

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, such software is expensive and comes with legal requirements. Different countries have their own anti-spam legislation that prevents you from emailing people using certain email management software. Be sure to consult how mass emails are regulated in your country before investing in an email management software.

A Better Way to Set Up Read Notifications

Thankfully, there is a way to apply email tracking functionality to your personal Gmail inbox 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.

ContactMonkey is that Gmail email tracker.

Easily track exactly who opened your Gmail emails, in addition to other information like if your recipients clicked on a link you included, or the location of your recipients.

email tracking


In addition to getting in-depth metrics on your emails, you can send schedule your email sends based on your open rate information to maximize the number of recipients seeing your email:

schedule email

Email Open Tracking for Better Communication

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

We believe in a data-based approach to your email communications. If you know exactly how your recipients are engaging with your content, you can pinpoint the factors that boost engagement.

In addition to ContactMonkey’s email open tracking, our email software lets you turn your mass emails into two-way communication channels. Use surveys, emoji reactions, comments, and more to find out exactly what’s on your recipients’ minds.

email template builder

Want to get more eyes on your emails and less people skipping your messages? Personalize your email content and subject lines using merge tags. Merge tags gather information from your distribution list—like email, first name, last name—and insert it right into your email body or subject line:

merge tags


When it comes to sending and tracking emails in Gmail, you get out what you put in. Using a dedicated tracking software like ContactMonkey makes it easy to boost your open rate.

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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 and save time.

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? Set up a free personalized demo for you and your team. 

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