iMessage Read Receipts; the Pros and Cons of activating this feature on your iPad

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I love iMessages.  In a world of smart phone and tablet parity, it’s one of the more compelling reasons to use an iPhone or iPad.  This is especially true if your friends and family also use iOS.  During my one year Android experiment a few years ago, it was one of the main features I missed, because the majority of my contacts used iOS. So what is it about iMessage that makes it stand out in a crowded world of messenger apps?  Well there are several features that come to mind…

  • iMessage Read Receipts (I’ll expand more on this in a minute).
  • The ability to see if the person you’re texting with is currently typing.
  • Built into iOS, therefore making it the default messenger app for millions of iPhone and iPad users.
  • iMessage forwarding to other devices signed into your iCloud account–like your Mac
  • The ability to send and receive at multiple iOS devices using multiple accounts.
  • The ability to block and/or turn off iMessages from people who are not in your contacts, and sort them into a separate list.
  • The ability to send and receive audio and video messages

That’s a pretty robust list.  I use most of these features on a daily basis, but one in particular I have a love/hate relationship with–iMessage Read Receipts.


How to Activate iMessage Read Receipts

Activating read receipts for iMessage is fairly straightforward–Settings–> Messages–> Turn on iMessage if you haven’t already, then turn on Send Read Receipts.  Here’s where it gets sticky–ask anyone who used an iPad or iPhone about whether or not they chose to activate read receipts, and you will probably get a some passionate answers.  For the sake of this conversation, let’s assume that we are talking about people who know about the feature and who are making a conscious decision to use it or not.

The argument for using Read Receipts

  • I want to make sure family members read my iMessage regarding change of plans.
  • I have an emergency, and need to leave a message for someone who is unavailable.
  • The obvious–I want to know when someone has read my message.

These are all good reasons, but unfortunately, even if the iOS Contact you’re communicating with has Read Receipts on, they’re several ways that they can circumvent this process.  This can even happen accidentally, depending on how you use your iOS device.


How to read an iMessage without triggering the Read Receipt feature

If you have turned on Read Receipt, you can’t pick and choose which contacts to use it with.  Having said that, if you want to look at an iMessage and either leave it marked unread so you can go back to it, to you just don’t want the sender to know you read it yet you can do one of the following…

  • If you have an iPhone 6S or 6S Plus, you can use the Peek feature to read a whole screen’s worth of dialogue without triggering Read Receipt as long as you don’t continue to press hard enough to Pop into the contact conversation.
  • If you don’t open the iMessage you can view a message you recently received in your Notification Center as long as iMessage allows Notifications and the “show in Notification Center” is on.
  • You can view on incoming iMessages on your Locked screen of your iOS device if “Show on Lock Screen” is on in Notifications, and “Show Previews” is on.

In conclusion, perhaps Apple needs to revisit the Read Receipt feature on iOS devices, as it has become antiquated due to the addition of features added to iOS since its introduction. What has your experience been with Read Receipts–and do you have it active on your iOS device?

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2 thoughts on “iMessage Read Receipts; the Pros and Cons of activating this feature on your iPad”

  1. Read receipts are good perhaps 90% of the time. Then there are those few you just hate to acknowledge reading. But the fact is, read reciept or not, the other party will assume you read it or that you are an egomaniacal “better than everyone” Jerk.

    I consider iMessage to be an app with long sharpened barbed hooks in me (along with FaceTime and the App Store app itself). Androidians just don’t know what they are missing. I finally got to my current philosophy after much angst, depression, therapy and paranoid delusions. What I came up with is Biblical:

    “Grant read receipts to others, as you would have them grant read receipts unto you.”

    So,if you don’t care to know if others read your messages then turn the receipts off in good conscience. If you like to see others read receipts then common courtesy and consistent logic requires you set an example and have your read receipts on as well. Someone waves at you wave back.

    If you love getting read receipts but have yours off then you are going to be perceived as arrogant and full of self-Importance. And you probably are. That said, you may not be as described above, but no matter, that is how you will be perceived.

    I also sense that those with read receipts off are probably behind on several projects at work and/or have a morbid, but very real fear, of being held accountable for acting appropriately to information received. Easier to say “I guess I missed that memo.”

    Well, yes you did. And the guy who sent it sees it was delivered. And when Apple, says delivered you can take that to the bank.

    Read Receipt Deniers: I have your number. So don’t get cute with me. Don’t make me come find you. Turn those read receipts on., it’s not just good advice, it’s the law.

    My law.

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