Office solution: Here's how to resolve a Read Receipt timing conflict

Learn how to resolve a conflict between two users when they encounter a Read Receipt request.

Last week, we described a situation where an assistant was screening email messages for her boss. When the message had a Read Receipt request, the boss didn't want the assistant to respond. The boss wanted to respond when she actually read the message herself.

This sounds like an impossible request, but perhaps the best solution is also the simplest: add the Receipt Requested column to the view. Then, the assistant simply avoids that message altogether. Yes, it's a imperfect solution because the assistant doesn't screen the message at all, but the Read Receipt request remains intact for the boss. Fortunately, adding this column to the view is simple:

  1. Right-click the title bar and choose Field Chooser.
  2. In the resulting dialog, choose All Mail Fields from the dropdown at the top.
  3. Drag Receipt Requested to the title bar and drop it.

When a message arrives with a Read Receipt request, the column displays Yes. The assistant can completely bypass the message. That means the assistant doesn't screen all the messages, but it's a solution that the boss can probably live with, if she really doesn't want the request responded to until she's actually reviewed it.

A few of you responded with some creative solutions. For instance, Elangomatt suggested screening messages via the web app. Bethernet suggested screening via the Reading Pane, where you can read the message without actually opening it. This can work if the screener uses the Reading Pane—most do, but not everyone chooses this setup.

The challenge seemed to take a back seat to a discussion regarding the appropriateness of Read Receipts, which I found interesting. Senders certainly can abuse the feature, so use it conservatively and wisely!


Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

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