How you can tell when someone is seeing your text messages

People have a love/hate relationship with messaging read receipts. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re those little alerts at the bottom of messages that indicate they’ve been viewed or read by the other party.

When Read Receipt is on, people will be notified when they have read the messages they send you. Conversely, if it’s on their behalf, you’ll be notified when they read your text.

It depends on how you look at them.

Some people like these notifications because they give a sense of immediate and immediate connection to others. Others hate them because they seem intrusive.

The common denominator is that read receipts force people to respond quickly and depending on whether you see this as a good or a bad thing.

Either way, it certainly has worthwhile uses for keeping virtual conversations flowing. Parents can also use read receipts to keep tabs on their kids and rest assured that every message sent is seen and hopefully answered.

Here’s how to turn on (or off) read receipts so you know if your text messages are being viewed on iMessage, Android, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

iOS iMessage for iPhone, Mac, and iPads
Apple gadget users are most likely familiar with iMessage, the default text messaging app for iPhones. Read receipts have always been a feature from iMessage to iMessage text messages (indicated by the blue color of the text bubble) and it lets a sender know if a text message has been read.

(Here’s a fun fact: Green text bubbles in iMessage mean they were sent from non-iPhones and don’t support read receipts.)

To turn read receipts on or off for all your text messages (meaning senders won’t be notified when you read their iMessages, go to Settings >> Messages then toggle “Send read receipts” on or off .

Starting with iOS 10, they can also be enabled or disabled depending on the contact you’re receiving text messages from.

To enable Read Receipts for a particular sender, launch your Messages app and then open an iMessage thread with the desired contact. Now, tap the little “i” icon in the top-right corner of the thread and then toggle “Send read receipts” on or off.

Facebook Messenger
Read receipts is on by default in Facebook Messenger and there is currently no way to turn it off within the app. This means you and your friends will always know if a message has been viewed or not.

Keep in mind that there are some ways to secretly read Facebook Messenger messages without triggering read receipts.

One is through the same Airplane Mode trick. With this method, the recipient can simply turn off the gadget’s Wi-Fi and cellular connection, read all received messages, and then force-quit the Messenger app.

iPhone users can also try this trick to read Messenger messages without activating read receipts. This can be accomplished by reading incoming messages through notifications on the lock screen or notification center.

Turn it on by going to your iPhone’s Settings >> Notifications >> Select Messenger and make sure “Allow notifications” is turned on. Next, set the Alert Style to Banner or Alert. To read Facebook Messenger notifications, set your app’s notification alert style to banner or alert. To read Messenger messages on the lock screen, toggle “Show on lock screen” to ON.


Facebook’s other messaging property WhatsApp also has read receipt notifications. However unlike Facebook Messenger, this setting can be turned off.

To turn off WhatsApp read receipts, go to Settings >> Accounts >> Privacy on the app and then uncheck “Read receipts”. Please note that this will not turn off read receipts for your WhatsApp group chats, nor will it turn off play receipts for WhatsApp voice messages.

Bonus: Android Message Delivery Reports

Currently, Android users do not have an iOS iMessage Read Receipt equivalent unless they have downloaded third-party messaging apps such as the ones I mentioned above, Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.

The most an Android user can do is to turn on Delivery Reports on the Android Messages app. All this setting notifies a text message sender whenever a text was successfully delivered (but cannot tell if a message was read).

To turn on Delivery Reports on Android, go to your Messages app, tap the Menu icon (the three vertical dots), choose Settings >> Text Messages, then turn Delivery Reports on or off.

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