TECH Q&A

Merits of read-receipt emails differ based on software, applications

4/5/2013
NEW YORK TIMES

Q: Is there any way to tell whether and when an email I have sent has been received and opened by the recipient?

A: Depending on the software you use, certain email programs and third-party services offer some ability to track the messages you send. These solutions vary in approach and usefulness. Some mail programs require the recipient to click a button to acknowledge the message’s arrival — which the recipient might ignore. (Wary people avoid clicking on anything in a message for fear of installing malicious software on their computers.)

Microsoft Outlook 2010 is one program that has a built-in tracking function that generates delivery and read-receipt confirmations for messages you send (bit.ly/YCWw6m). Apple’s Mail program for OS X does not support read-receipt requests by default, but some users have found a workaround with the techniques described at bit.ly/5Qdty. And although read receipts are not automatically available for personal Gmail accounts, those using the Google Apps for Business version of the mail program can request the notifications (bit.ly/YSg2YN).

If your software does not include a satisfactory message-tracking feature, a third-party “certified mail” service could fill the void. For example, Boomerang, a browser plug-in for Gmail that costs $5 a month (bit.ly/16fWVfE), offers read receipts among its features. Banana Tag (bit.ly/YdDvYG) is a similar service with comparable pricing that works with a few mail programs.

Other paid services such as ReadNotify (readnotify.com) and PointofMail (pointofmail.com), intended for professionals in marketing and advertising, are available. As with any product, you should read the online documentation and user reviews and decide if it fits your needs before paying; keep in mind that some recipients may have privacy concerns or use mail formats that may not work well with tracking services.

Q: Can I update my BlackBerry Curve to the BlackBerry operating system that was just released?

A: The latest version of the BlackBerry system software, called BlackBerry 10 OS, is designed for the company’s new Z10 and Q10 phones. According to the BlackBerry site, older models such as the Curve, Bold, and Torch, cannot be updated to the software; BlackBerry 7.1 remains the operating system for most of the older handsets.

BlackBerry’s site lists the current software versions for its various phones and its PlayBook tablet at bit.ly/S2fvS6. The latest desktop software for Windows and Mac users is at bit.ly/15WyJ1B.

TIP OF THE WEEK

Keeping the open browser tabs on your computer in sync with the browser on your mobile device can save a lot of time and emailing when you are on the go and need to keep working. The Google Chrome browser can keep tabs in sync between its desktop and Android mobile versions when all the devices are signed into the same Chrome account. Google has detailed instructions at bit.ly/Loh5Lx. (Mozilla has a similar Firefox Sync feature for computers and other devices that can run its Firefox browser; information on using Firefox Sync can be found at mzl.la/PJeU7K.)

On the Mac side, Apple’s OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) system can synchronize tabs with the Safari browser on the computer and mobile devices (the iPad, iPod Touch, and iPhone) running iOS 6. To keep your tabs in sync, you also need to have an iCloud account; Apple has steps for setting up iCloud Tabs at support.apple.com/kb/ht5372. To see browser tabs open on the mobile devices from the computer, click the iCloud Tabs button in the Safari toolbar. With Safari on an iOS device, tap the Bookmarks icon and then tap iCloud Tabs to see a list of open browser tabs on all the computers and gadgets logged into that iCloud account.