How to turn iMessage read receipts on and off

By , Feb 9, 2016


One of the features you can take advantage of in iMessage, as well as many other internet chat services, is sending and receiving read receipts, which are a type of confirmation that tell you when the recipient has read the message you’ve sent to them.

It’s useful for when you want to ensure they’ve received your message, and although not everyone likes to have people knowing when they read people’s messages, some like to let others know when their message was received loud and clear, whether they’re able to respond right away or not.

In this post, we will talk about the implications of using read receipts or not. We’ll also show you how to turn read receipts on or off for iMessage on your iOS devices, as well as on your Mac.

Read receipts – to enable them or to disable them

That is the question; should you enable them or disable them? You have to choose for yourself, but we’ll help let you know how they can be useful, and how they can also come back to bite you in the you-know-what.

If you’re using your iPhone or Mac in a work-based environment, read receipts are a great way to let your colleagues know that you received their message(s), even when you’re too busy to reply at that moment in time. Most of the time, the confirmation of delivery of the message is enough to satisfy them, and sometimes, a reply isn’t even necessary.

On the other hand, if you’re using your iPhone or Mac in a much more personal setting, such as when texting close friends or your significant other, read receipts can get tricky. They might think that when you read their message and don’t reply, you’re ignoring them, and they may become annoyed; also, when you disable them so they stop seeing when you read their messages, they’ll often notice and wonder why you’ve turned the feature off to avoid letting them see when you’ve read their messages.

As you can see, there are some situations where the feature can be useful, and be a kind gesture to the message sender, but there are also situations where they can be an annoyance and cause a lot of drama with your privacy – especially if you have a friend or significant other with attention issues.

How to turn iMessage read receipts on or off

Turn off read receipts on Mac OS X

If you’re using a Mac, then turning read receipts on or off for iMessage in the OS X Messages app takes just a few steps.

Step 1: Launch the Messages app on your Mac from the Dock, Applications folder, or from Spotlight.

Step 2: Once open, click on “Messages” in the Menu Bar, and then click on “Preferences.”

toggle imessage read receipts on or off on mac preferences for messages

Step 3: In the Messages preferences window, click on the “Accounts” tab, then click on the “Send read receipts” check box to either enable or disable read receipts for iMessage on your Mac.

toggle imessage read receipts on OS X settings send read receipts

Note: If enabled, the person who messages you will be able to see you’ve read their message, as shown below. If disabled, it will show “Delivered” for them instead.

how to toggle imessage read receipts on a mac example of read receipt

That’s all there is to enabling or disabling read receipts for iMessage on your Mac, but doing so is also possible on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. We’ll show you how in the next section.

Turn off read receipts on iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch

Toggling read receipts on or off for iMessage is a little easier for iOS device users, but nonetheless, here are the steps:

Step 1: Launch the Settings app and open the “Messages” preferences pane.

toggle imessage read receipts iOS settings app path

Step 2: Turn the “Send Read Receipts” toggle switch either on or off to your desired setting.

Note: If enabled, the person messaging you will see when you’ve read their message, as shown below; on the contrary, if you disable read receipts, they’ll just see the word “Delivered” instead.

how to toggle imessage read receipts on or off on iOS example

That’s all there is to it for letting others see when you’ve read their messages on your iOS devices!

But I want to see when others read MY messages

Unfortunately, because read receipts are a matter of privacy, Apple lets the end user make the choice on whether or not to share read receipts. Not all users are comfortable with people knowing when they’ve read someone’s message, and as a result, some people leave the feature turned off.

If you want to see when someone else reads your iMessages, you’re virtually powerless in that respect because there’s no setting to do so, but you can still ask the person if they’d be willing to turn on read receipts (and show them this tutorial so they know how to) so you can see when they’ve at least read your message, especially if they’re a busy person and often can’t reply on time. The worst they can do is say no and that they aren’t interested.

More details about iMessage read receipts

Read receipts are limited to iMessage in the Messages app only. SMS messages do not come with read receipts because it’s an older technology that carriers have not yet made these software advancements to. iMessage bubbles appear blue in the Messages app, while SMS bubbles appear green, and it’s important to be able to tell the difference.

Unfortunately, you can’t toggle iMessage read receipts on or off for individual people. Apple forces you to toggle it on or off for everyone, so keep this in mind when you make your decision.

It’s also worth noting that it’s possible for someone to see your message while they have read receipts enabled and the Messages app may not show that they’ve read your message. Some examples include when they see a preview of your message from the Lock screen or Notification Center and don’t open the Messages app to acknowledge your iMessage, or when using 3D Touch to peek at a message, or even if they have a jailbreak tweak installed that inhibits sending or receiving read receipts unless the user allows it to happen.


Read receipts are a nifty thing to have, but you need to weigh in whether or not they’ll do more harm than good, or will actually be a useful tool. I personally use read receipts because I couldn’t care less what people think when they see I’ve read their messages, but others may disagree with my standpoint and choose to keep the feature disabled.


Do you use read receipts for your iMessage sending and receiving? Share below!

  • Share:
  • Follow:
  • Charlie

    They should introduce selective groups to have the privilege to see you have read or vice versa. So only the selected people can see that you have read their iMessage (like close friends or family) but not everyone.

    If you can select individual ringtones for everyone why can’t you do that?

    • nouseforaname

      completely agree!

    • iNeedANameHere

      One of my favorite jailbreak tweaks is SelectiveReading for this very purpose. One of the main reasons jailbreaking is still relevant to me.

  • Fanboy 

    First world problems….

  • Count_Iblis

    People that don’t enable this feature are shady if you ask me.

    • Garrett

      I wouldn’t say shady. I just don’t want people to know when I am ignoring them.

      • 9to5Slavery

        that’s your personal issue

    • Morgan Freeman

      Let me guess, you’re an “if you have nothing to hide, why worry” type? Shady beyond belief.

      • 9to5Slavery

        because its pshycology

    • Digitalfeind

      I keep mine turned off. Why?? If I am busy and cannot reply in a timely manner than some might think I am ignoring them and could cause problems. Besides, it’s my choice. I like privacy. Nothing shady about that.

  • the hood

    The real issue is people having as Anthony puts it, ‘attention issues’. The only ‘shady’ people are the ones with ‘Count’ in their name, such as dracula. 🙂

  • 9to5Slavery

    Rather have courtesy as in being straight forward, it’s easier to be a coward in my lesser years, but it’s time to step up and just adjust to the adversity and grow to be more responsible. Not hiding and being shady.

  • iPhoneWINS

    I turn all that stuff off