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How to get easy read notifications in Gmail/Inbox with Mailtrack

Gmail and Inbox users can finally add a read receipt feature, thanks to Mailtrack. Jack Wallen shows you how.

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Image: Jack Wallen

If you use Gmail or Inbox for your business, you might well want to take advantage of read receipts. Thing is, only the G Suite versions of Gmail and Inbox include such a tool. If you're using the free version (and plenty of SOHO and consultants do), how do manage to add read receipts to your flow?

One way is to turn to a brand new extension for Gmail/Inbox, called Mailtrack. This handy extension (available for Google Chrome, Firefox and Opera) can alert Gmail, Google Apps and Inbox users if their emails have been opened.

Mailtrack, of course, takes this one step further with a new Reminders feature.

Mailtrack's CPO Eduardo Manchón says,

"When you send an email, you expect the message to be read. You already get confirmation of that through Mailtrack's double check marks, but what happens when your recipients don't read what you sent? Our new Reminders fill that gap by sending you an alert when a message hasn't been read after a certain period of time. You can then decide to take action right away, or select one of the options that postpone the reminder for days or weeks".

That's important for busy users who depend upon clients and customers reading the email they send. This new feature translates into a reminder telling you that your email has yet to be read, so you can follow up to ensure that missive is opened. But there's more:

There are two versions of Mailtrack:

  • Mailtrack Free - Unlimited tracking, limited features, max 5 addresses per company
  • Mailtrack Pro - $4.92/month - unlimited tracking, ad-free signature, up to 3 addresses per user, daily reports, link tracking, dashboard, support within 24 hours

For anyone wanting to see if Mailtrack is for you, the Free version will give you a good idea of how it works (plus you'll get a free limited trial of the Pro features). Let's install Mailtrack and kick the tires.

Installation

The installation of Mailtrack is quite simple. I'll demonstrate on Google Chrome (the extension works on all platforms, Linux, Windows, and Mac). Open up Chrome and point it to the Mailtrack extension page. Click the ADD TO CHROME button and then, when prompted, click "Add extension."

Once the extension is added, a new page will appear, asking you to sign in with Google (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A

The installation of Mailtrack is almost done.

Once you click "Sign in with Google", you will then be prompted to give the extension permission to read, send, delete, and manage your email, view your email addresses, and view your basic profile information (the standard stuff). Click "Allow" and Mailtrack is ready to go.

Usage

Once you've installed Mailtrack, it's working. When you go to compose a new email, you will see a new icon in the composer window (Figure B).

Figure B

Figure B

The Mailtrack icon ready to serve.

That icon is actually two buttons, one that allows you to enable/disable email notifications (the bell icon) and one that allows you to enable/disable email tracking (double check marks). This comes in very handy when you don't want to use the tool with particular contacts.

When you send an email with Mailtrack enabled, you will receive both a desktop warning and an email alert when the recipient reads the email (and if a recipient clicks on a link). If you have the Pro version, you will also be able to check your Mailtrack Dashboard (accessible from the Chrome browser icon - Figure C).

Figure C

Figure C

The Mailtrack Chrome icon gets you access to your Dashboard, account, and more.

When you open the Dashboard, you will gain access to all the information you need (read email, unread email, settings, etc.). Click on the "READ EMAILS" tab and then you can click on a specific email to view the statistics (Figure D).

Figure D

Figure D

An email that has been read twice and the specific times it was read.

Reminders

One feature that Mailtrack offers that will be of great use to many is Reminders. With this you will receive a reminder if a recipient hasn't read an email, 24 hours after the email was originally sent. I was informed by a Mailtrack rep that, at some point, configuration options will be available for the Reminders feature.

The caveats

You knew they were coming. The first caveat can be a deal-breaker for some. With Mailtrack all recipients must be reading HTML email. If you send an email to a recipient who reads the email in text form, Mailtrack will not report the email as read. Of course, most people are reading their email on mobile devices, so chances are they do view via HTML. Even so, there are still desktop clients that default to text; in those cases, email reporting will not be accurate.

The other issue is that, in order for Link Tracking to work, you must insert a link into an email via the email composer "Insert Link" button. If you copy and paste a link into the email, it will not be tracked. Personally, I never insert links via the "Insert Link" button, so how effective that feature will be would be dictated on my ability to break the copy and paste habit. Another issue with Link Tracking is that it doesn't seem to function when the recipient clicks a link from Thunderbird running on Linux. If the reader is on Mac or Windows, clicked links will be reported successfully. Hopefully this issue will be resolved asap.

A worthy extension

If you've been looking to add read receipts to either Gmail or Inbox, Mailtrack is a solid solution. Even with the caveats, this extension does a great job of keeping you up to date if a recipient has read your communication (as well as when and how many times). You might find yourself muting the desktop alerts (especially if you send out a lot of emails), but even with the alerts muted, this tool is a worthy extension for anyone needing to stay on top of their business communication through Gmail or Inbox.

Also see

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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