Make Mail app request read receipts

24 February 2013, 09:00

Those who’ve used Microsoft Windows might recall the sometimes useful option within apps like Outlook Express that allowed mail messages to automatically prompt the recipient to send a “read confirmation” email.

Mail app on OS X doesn’t include this feature, but you can activate it via a hack.

To switch it on, quit Mail then open a Terminal window (it’s in the Utilities folder of the Applications list in Finder), then type the following, substituting your own name and email address where relevant:

defaults write UserHeaders '{"Disposition-Notification-To" = "YOUR NAME <YOUR@EMAILADDRESS.COM>"; }'

For example, for my name and email address (Keir Thomas, I’d type the following:

defaults write UserHeaders '{"Disposition-Notification-To" = "Keir Thomas <>"; }'

Then start Mail and send your messages. Every message you sent will now request a read receipt if the receiving email client understands such things, which includes Microsoft mail clients. Other Macs will simply ignore the read request. I’m not sure what Gmail or other web-based services will do — let me know in the comments if you find out — but I suspect they too will simply ignore the request.

To deactivate the read receipts feature, again quit Mail and open a Terminal window, before typing the following:

defaults delete UserHeaders

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