How to Learn if People Are Reading Your Text Messages


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The way we use our phones has changed over the past decade. Studies of data usage have shown that we’re texting more than talking on our phones. Fortunately, we can set up read receipts for smartphones and messaging apps.

Below are some basic instructions on how to set up your phone for text-reading receipts. (Note: Instructions below may vary according to your device’s manufacturer, model, and operating system.)

Read receipts on your Android

Android read receipts require both sender and recipient to use the Android Message app and both must have the feature enabled. Just a few steps and you are ready to go with read receipts.

In the Message app, click on the three-dot menu at the top of your screen and tap Settings , then tap Text Messages under the Advanced heading. Depending on your phone model, operating system and cellular provider, you will notice one of the following: Read Receipts or Request Receipt, turn on the applicable option.

Some phones may only have the option for Delivery Receipts, but be aware that this feature will notify you when a message is delivered — it will not tell you if the person has read the text.

Read receipts on your iPhone

Apple’s default text messaging app, iMessage, makes it easy to know if your recipient has read your message. However, like Android phones, both the sender and recipient must be using iMessages on an iPhone or iPad and have Read Receipts enabled.

When you text someone with Read Receipts turned on, you’ll notice the word “Read” beneath your message and the time it was opened.

To turn on Read Receipts in the iMessage app, click Settings then scroll down and tap Messages. Enable Send Read Receipts.

These steps work with Macs and iPads as well. This may vary according to your version of iMessage, but the variations are easy to walk through.

What about Facebook Messenger?

While most people send direct text messages to each other, there are times when you may want to send a message to someone while logged in to Facebook.

While you must enable read receipts for both Android and iPhone, this feature for Facebook Messenger is enabled by default, and viewed in the little check mark box under your sent message. If at some point you wish to turn them off, you can’t; however, some workarounds will allow you to send and receive messages without producing a read receipt.

The first method, called the “Airplane mode trick,” requires you to merely turn off your Wi-Fi and cellular connection to read all received messages. Open the app then turn on Airplane mode (swipe up from the bottom of the screen and tap on the plane icon). When you finish reading your messages, force quit the Messenger app through the settings switch.

A second option is the Facebook Chat Privacy extension. Add to the Chrome browser, and all “seen” and “is typing” notices will be blocked.

What about WhatsApp?

Since Facebook owns WhatsApp, it’s understandable the application also has built-in read receipts. Unlike its parent company, you have the opportunity to opt-out of read receipts within the app.

How do you know when someone views your message in WhatsApp? Look for the check marks:

  • A single gray check mark indicates a successfully sent message.
  • The appearance of a second gray check mark shows your message was delivered to the recipient’s phone.
  • If the recipient has viewed your message, the two check marks will turn blue (Press and hold on the message to see the time it was viewed).

To turn off this feature, click Settings and tap Account. Choose the Privacy option and disable Read Receipts.

This method will not turn off Read Receipts in your WhatsApp Group Chats or Play Receipts for your WhatsApp voice messages.

What about Signal?

There are other privacy-oriented apps as well. The most popular app that encrypts messages end-to-end is Signal. Even Edward Snowden uses Signal as his messaging app. With Signal, that function is enabled by default. Leave it that way.

But just to be sure, open the app, tap the three dots at the top of your screen, then tap Settings. Then tap Privacy, and read down to Communications. There you will find Read Receipts. Make sure it is enabled.

Once you have your read receipts enabled on all your apps, you will no longer have to wonder or worry about whether a recipient has viewed your message. Now whether they actually took the time to read it is another issue.

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