How to Tell When Someone Reads Your Text Message

Find out when you're being ignored on iOS, Android, WhatsApp and Messenger

Man texting on cell phone
Geber86/Getty Images

Ever wondered whether someone has read your text message but is ignoring it? In this age of constant connectedness, it can often be hard to tell if someone is simply busy or is actually blowing you off. Luckily, though, technology is here to the rescue; there are some ways to uncover the truth about whether your message has been read.

Let's break the methods down by the two major phone software platforms: Apple's iOS on the iPhone and Android for Google-powered phones.

iOS

With iPhone, there's only one way for you to see when other people have looked at your messages – that person needs to have "read receipts" activated on their phone and you both need to be using iPhone iMessage.

Here's why: When you use an iPhone to send text messages through the native Messages app, you only have the option to "send read receipts" from your phone. When you select this option, anyone who texts you will see the exact time when you opened (and presumably read) their message when they look at the text thread in the Messages app. 

Here's how to turn on read receipts from your iPhone:

  1. Open Settings on your phone.

  2. Navigate to Messages (it has a green icon with a white text bubble inside it).

  3. You'll find Send Read Receipts about halfway down the list of options within the Messages section. Here you can toggle it on or off.

    Settings icon, Messages button, and Send Read Receipts toggle set to ON
  4. Now people will see when yo've read their iMessages.

That doesn't really help you, though, to discover if another person has read a text message you sent. If you're using an iPhone and want to see if someone read your text message, you need to be using iMessage to send the text – and that person needs to be using an iPhone as well, in addition to the stipulation that they must have the option to send read receipts turned on.

So if you're texting a friend, family member or colleague with an Android phone, even if you go through the iMessage app, there's no way to know whether or not your message has been viewed unless you both turn on the read receipt option. That can definitely be frustrating, but maybe it's best to not know whether or not you've been "left on read"!

Android

The situation can be similar when it comes to Android phones. The Android Messages app that comes with your phone supports read receipts, though whether your carrier has enabled this or not is up to them. If so, then just like with iMessages, you'll need to be texting with someone who has the same app and who has read receipts enabled on their phone.

The process for toggling on or off read receipts varies depending on the manufacturer (e.g., HTC, LG or Samsung) and the version of Android you're running but, in general, the process looks like this: 

The directions below should apply no matter who made your Android phone: Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

  1. From the text messaging app, open Settings.

    Sometimes, the settings are hidden behind three vertical dots or lines at the top of your screen; tap those dots or lines to reveal a hidden menu. 

  2. Navigate to Text Messages or Conversations.

    It might be on the first page that shows up or you might have to tap More Settings on some phone models before it shows up.

    Three Samsung Android screens showing Settings, More settings, and Text/Multimedia messages buttons
    Images from Samsung Galaxy S9 running Android Oreo.
  3. Turn on or off Read Receipts, Send Read Receipts, or Request Receipt depending on your phone and what it is you want to do.

    Typically, this is done by sliding the button to the left so that the entire button and slider goes grey.

    You can also turn Delivery Receipts on or off (these indicate whether your text message has successfully made it through or not, not whether it's been read or not).

    Delivery Reports toggled ON in both Text Messages and Multimedia Messages screens on Android
  4. You now have full control.

Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp

Two other popular messaging platforms include the option to send read receipts: Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

With Facebook Messenger, there's no official way to turn off read receipts, so unless you want to download a third-party app or a browser extension, you will be able to tell when someone's viewed your message. For example, there's the Facebook Chat Privacy extension for the Chrome browser, which is meant to block the "seen" and "is typing" notices for messages you send within Messenger. 

On The Other Hand, with WhatsApp you can opt out of the read receipts feature. To do so:

  1. With WhatsApp open, tap Settings at the bottom.

  2. Tap Account.

  3. Tap Privacy.

  4. Disable Read Receipts to stop the other person from knowing when you've read the message.

    Account, Settings, Privacy buttons and Read Receipts toggled to ON in WhatsApp on iOS
  5. And now they can't see whether or not you've read the message.

Signal App

The Signal app, available for iOS, Android, Mac, and PC, can be set as your default SMS application on stock Android phones like Google's Pixel. To make that happen:

  1. Launch Signal from your Android phone.

  2. Tap the three vertical dot menu in the upper right-hand corner of the screen and choose Settings.

  3. Tap the SMS and MMS icon.

  4. Toggle SMS delivery reports to ON.

    Settings, SMS and MMS, and delivery reports toggled to ON on Signal app

Bottom Line

It's not always possible to see when someone has viewed your text, meaning we can't completely avoid that uncomfortable, uncertain feeling of wondering whether we're being avoided. However, provided the person whom you're messaging has read receipts enabled and is using the same messaging platform as you, it can be done. In all other cases, we recommend just assuming he or she is having an incredibly busy day!