Why You Should Let Senders Know Their Email Was Received

Acknowledging the receipt of an email is considerate in many settings

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You've collected all the necessary information, packed it into a carefully crafted and easy-to-read email, added a nice salutation, an enticing subject, and some supporting attachments and sent it to a group of people.

No reply is necessary, of course, but your inquiring mind still wants to know -- have they all received the email you so diligently composed?

Sending Read Receipt Requests With Your Email

If you use one of the email applications such as Microsoft Office Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird that supports read receipts, you could attach a read receipt request to your email. You select the option before you send the message. Each recipient who receives the message is presented with an opportunity to acknowledge the receipt of the email. 

The read receipt request does not guarantee that you'll get a response. Not all email services support the use of read receipts, and the option can be disabled as the recipient's end of those that do. Some recipients may not want to acknowledge that they've received your email because they aren't ready to deal with whatever it contains.

Typically, read receipts work best within a company where everyone is using the same email service.

Requesting Acknowledgment

If you've tried read receipts in the past with underwhelming results or if you use an email service that doesn't support them, it doesn't hurt to ask for an acknowledgment. Add a line to your email such as, "Our deadline is tight. Please acknowledge receipt of this email" or "Please send a brief reply so I know everyone received this information." You're just as likely to receive an acknowledgment as with the use of read receipts.

At the Other End: Let Senders Know You Received Their Email

Suppose you are on the receiving end of an email. If it includes a read receipt request and your service is compatible or if the sender requested you reply in the email, go ahead and acknowledge receipt of the email.

As for the rest of the email you receive, there's no need to acknowledge the receipt of every email, but if one is important or business related, a simple reply is considerate. Sometimes, emails are lost or fall prey to overeager spam filters. Send a quick note back, possibly in the form of an informal thank you, to acknowledge receipt of the email even if no reply is necessary otherwise.

Even if you plan to reply later, an email that acknowledges receipt and lets the sender know when you will get back to it is welcome by most senders.