Message Tracking not working

I'm trying to use the tracking feature to ensure my mail is actually being delivered. In the Message Options, I selected the option "Request a delivery receipt for this message". In the on-line help for Outlook it says that this tracking information should be shown when opening the sent item. However, I see no such information within my sent item.

I've then tried it with a "Read receipt" and although I do get a message back, I still don't see any tracking information within the sent item.

How can I see if my message was read or delivered successfully within the sent item?

Message tracking via the Internet is a bit tricky as there are quite a few points at which it could get broken. If the tracking feature is not broken, you’ll see the following message icons in front of a received tracking report;

delivery report    Delivery Report
failed delivery report    Non Delivery Report (NDR)
read report    Message Read Notice
not read report    Message Deleted Without Being Read Notice
recall failure    Recall Failure Report
recall success    Recall Successful Report

Note: More message icons and their meaning can be found in this icon guide.

Tracking icon and information on Sent Items

If you received a message with any of the above icons, then the tracking feature will work and you'll see the following icon on your sent item in the Sent Items folder;
message tracking    Tracking icon for Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2010
message tracking 2003    Tracking icon for Outlook 2003 and previous

If you see that icon on your sent item, double click the item to open it in its own window and you’ll see a “Tracking” button in the “Show” group (Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2010) or the “Tracking” tab (Outlook 2003 and previous);

Message tracking Outlook 2010 
Message tracking in Outlook 2010

Message tracking Outlook 2007
Tracking in Outlook 2007

Message tracking Outlook 2003
Tracking in Outlook 2003 and previous

Report processing

In Outlook 2003 and previous, incoming reports sometimes need to be processed manually. Processing reports manually is as simple as selecting the report in your Inbox folder (don’t move it to another folder), mark it as read and then delete it. If the report was not broken, you should now see the special report icon on your sent item.

Broken reports

If the report somehow got broken, then a regular message icon will be displayed instead;
unrad message     Unread message
read message     Read message

When the report gets broken, you cannot fix it anymore. Common reasons for it to get broken are;

  • The mail server sending out the report does not support sending out these special reports and sends out a normal message instead.
  • The mail client of the receiver sending out the report does not support sending out these special reports and sends out a normal message instead.
  • Your virus scanner’s integration with Outlook broke the special report message.

Not receiving Delivery Receipts

Most external email servers do not send back delivery receipt because of Junk E-mail concerns. If they are already returning a receipt, then they are usually just a text based message which breaks the actual tracking feature.

In most cases it only really works within a corporate environment but since delivery is instant then, there is no real need for it. Usually when you send an email and it cannot be delivered you will already receive a notification by the mail server of your ISP or corporate Exchange server.

Not receiving Read Receipts

There are a whole bunch of reasons why a Read Receipt may not been received.