Return Receipt for Mail.app on Macintosh

March 5, 2012 / Updated: March 5, 2012 / Lena Shore

Question

Is there a way to know that someone has opened your email using Mail on my Macintosh?

Answer

There are a couple of ways.

Sign up for a service

First, you can sign up for a service that will monitor your mail. I don’t have any specific recommendations, but you can google “return receipt email service” or “email tracking services” and get a bunch to choose from.

Use the terminal

Second you can login to your terminal and change the way your Mail.app works using the command-line. If the process below scares you, just sign up for a service. The terminal is powerful and if you typed in the correct command, you could wipe your machine. However, if working in the terminal doesn’t scare the crap out of you and makes you drool with power…

To make Mac OS X Mail request a read receipt for every message you send:

  1. Open your Terminal. (Applications –> Utilities –> Terminal)
  2. Enter “defaults read com.apple.mail UserHeaders” and press return.
    • NOTE: If that command returns “The domain/default pair of (com.apple.mail, UserHeaders) does not exist” Enter this instead (replace “Name” with your own name and “[email protected]” with your own email address.
    • defaults write com.apple.mail UserHeaders ‘{“Disposition-Notification-To” = “Name <[email protected]>”; }’
    • If the “defaults read” command above returns a line of values that starts with “{” and ends in “}”:
      • Highlight the entire line. It might read something like {Bcc = “[email protected]”; }, for example.
      • Press Command-C.
      • Type “defaults write com.apple.mail UserHeaders ‘” (excluding the outer quotation marks).
      • Press Command-V.
      • Type “‘”.
      • Insert ‘”Disposition-Notification-To” = “Name <[email protected]>”; ‘ in front of the closing “}” character, replacing Name with your name and [email protected] with your email address.
      • The line might now read
        • defaults write com.apple.mail UserHeaders ‘{Bcc = “[email protected]”; “Disposition-Notification-To” = “Heinz Tschabitscher <[email protected]>”; }’, for example.
  3. Press Enter.

Lena Shore

Lena is a full-time freelancer and nerd that specializes in web development, graphic design, and illustration. She enjoys building things, learning new things, pursuing creative endeavors, and giving free advice.

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