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Confirming email was received

A common question from email users is "How can I tell if my email is received?". The plain answer is that there is no guaranteed way to tell if an email is received by someone. There are a couple methods that can work but neither way will work with 100% certainty.

One of the methods is the use of a "read receipt". When an email is opened by the receiver, a message will pop up and ask to confirm the email was received. There are a couple of problems with this method however. For starters, both the email client the message is sent from and the email client where it is being received have to support the read receipt and not all email clients do. Outlook does, but a lot of webmail clients do not.

The second issue is that a read receipt is simply a request. The person opening the email is told the sender is requesting a read receipt be sent back and they are then given the option of whether they choose to send one back or not. If they choose not to send it back, it won't go back.

Another way that is sometimes used is to embed an image (or something similar) within an email. The image would be stored on a website or server somewhere and when the email is opened, it calls the image up from that server. This causes the server to take a "hit" which is recorded in the site logs and stats. If you can access the website logs or stats you can see how many hits that image took.

However this method also has problems. Firstly it's difficult to tell who hit the image. You might get an IP address recorded on the logs but unless you know the IP address of the person you sent the email to, you don't know who is actually calling on the image.

The other problem is that a lot of email clients these days will block external images for spam and phishing reasons. The person receiving the email may choose not to allow the images to be pulled and just read the text that shows up. So again, it comes down to the person receiving the email having the choice.

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