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Return Receipt

(Disposition Notification Request)

  1. How can I request a return receipt from sent mails?
  2. Is there an option to select specific E-mails you want a return receipt for, rather than one global setting?
  3. Why isn't Return Receipt a feature in Entourage or Outlook?
  4. Responding to mail received with a DNR Request
Return Receipts are not included in Entourage 2008 or Outlook 2011.

1) How can I request a return receipt from sent mails?

  • Go to Tools -> Accounts.
  • Under the Mail tab, edit the mail account you want to send from.
  • Click the Options tab.
  • Under "Additional Headers", add in a new header: Disposition-Notification-To
  • Under Value, type your e-mail address.
Outlook 2011 does not support headers at this time.

2) Is there an option to select specific emails you want a return receipt for, rather than one global setting?

"Yes, Your best bet is to create a normal (POP) account setup (named descriptively) which is exactly the same as your regular one except omitting the "Receive Mail" entries and adding the "Return Receipt" header as described above. Remember to remove the Return Receipt header from your default account. You can then choose to send from this account when you want to request a return receipt rather than adding and deleting the header repeatedly

Note: This will only request a return receipt. While some clients can and will carry out the request, others will prompt the user and they can choose not to send it back, and still other clients like Entourage & Outlook Mac ignore the request completely, so it should not be assumed that no receipt means a recipient didn't receive the message.

3) Why isn't Return Receipt (Disposition Notification Request) a feature in Entourage or Outlook?

The reason why is that it's an almost useless feature which gives people false assurances, always a bad thing:

1) It doesn't work when the receiving email client does not have an automatic service that sends a reply. (Not only Entourage/Outlook Mac - there are many, many other other email clients which don't reply.) Therefore, if you don't get a reply you may incorrectly think it wasn't received,

2) It doesn't tell you that the recipient read the message anyway, only that his email client received it. Therefore when you get the reply you may incorrectly believe that he read it when he hasn't.

So - bad both ways round. It's a really feeble protocol, and good that Entourage or Outlook does not (pretend to) implement it. The fact that Outlook for Windows implements it is an indication that the Windows developers, unlike the MacBU, seem to think that everybody else in the world uses Outlook for Windows, which they don't. The MacBU developers, being on a "minority" platform, know better, and are smarter in not implementing it. To be a bit fairer, the Outlook for Windows approach probably reflects the fact that, originally, back in Office 95 for PCs, Outlook for Windows was an extension of an earlier client that worked only as intranet - something you used only with other people on your own Exchange server. Outlook for Windows started life doing the same thing - there used to be two modes - one for "Workgroups" on an Exchange server, and another for "Internet".

There were some poor decisions made when Outlook for Windows was extended to the Internet, that shouldn't be there. This is one of them - it's inaccurate and unreliable, since it assumes that everyone can do it, which they can't. You're much better off just not using it, since it cannot be relied upon.

-- Paul Berkowitz MVP MacOffice (edited for Outlook Mac by Diane Ross 04/28/2011)