Any way to receive a read receipt from emails sent using VBA, without the recipient's knowledge? (1 Viewer)

Alc

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I'm using VBA to send emails a fair bit. Someone has requested that I create a form to send emailed notifications to certain people and then record when each email is read.

The problems I have are that

1. Outlook (which is the email software the company uses) allows you to choose whether or not to send a read receipt. This defeats the object, since some of those being sent the emails are notorious for just refusing to send the read receipt, ignoring the request in the email if they choose to, then pretending they never received it.

2. Even those who allow the receipts to be sent are going to get annoyed if they keep being prompted.

I'm hoping to find some method using VBA that bypasses the prompt and just lets me know that each email has been read.
 

theDBguy

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Hi. Just thinking out loud, but the only responsible way I can think of to handle something like this is to take the "reading" piece out of Outlook. For example, if you have a web server, you can simply email them a link to a specific page online and you can control what happens there much better than trying to control Outlook. Just my 2 cents...
 

Alc

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Hi. Just thinking out loud, but the only responsible way I can think of to handle something like this is to take the "reading" piece out of Outlook. For example, if you have a web server, you can simply email them a link to a specific page online and you can control what happens there much better than trying to control Outlook. Just my 2 cents...
Thanks.
Unfortunately, all they're being sent is a short message, along the lines of 'ABC has requested that you return any parts number 12345 that you have in stock, as a fault has been discovered'. If I start adding links, it'll get shot down as overcomplicating things at their end.
 

theDBguy

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Thanks.
Unfortunately, all they're being sent is a short message, along the lines of 'ABC has requested that you return any parts number 12345 that you have in stock, as a fault has been discovered'. If I start adding links, it'll get shot down as overcomplicating things at their end.
There must be a way to do what you want; but unfortunately, I don't know what it is. I'm sure someone here has the answer you're looking for. Good luck!
 

Gasman

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No, the email would be html or plain text.
However most email clients will not run any code, as that could do anything.
Check out that spypig link.
 

The_Doc_Man

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Basically, the security model being used by Outlook will not allow that, and you can blame the U.S. government from many years ago when they required all government computers to follow the "Orange Book" C2 standard or higher. The two factors that make it happen that way are

(a) your receipt is asking someone else's computer to do something involuntarily, which is a MAJOR security no-no (for the "someone else's computer"), and

(b) the returning mail with the receipt will have to go through site security policies regarding ANY mail, and can be blocked by firewalls at the other end, i.e. the reply might be from a non-local site that can be banned as a sender (of replies) even though there would be no problem with that site being a recipient of the original mail. I.e. stateful firewalls don't automatically recognize that reply as a follow-up transaction. Not saying a firewall CAN'T recognize a transaction like that - but they do not do so as a standard operation.

The complication is that SMTP is a "store-and-forward" style of sender protocol. The routing for the message might not come directly from the sender because of things like sub-net gateways, even though the inner layers of the encapsulated message would identify the original sender.
 

GPGeorge

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Speaking from a purely personal point of view, email messages from people who insist I provide read receipts tend to end up in the spam folder....
 

CJ_London

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trouble with a read receipt is it doesn't really mean that. It just means the email has been opened, it doesn't mean it has been read or even understood.

Assuming the recipients are all on the same system, perhaps you can make use of notifications in some way?
 

CJ_London

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or you could be really irritating and at the senders end if they haven't received a read receipt within say 24 hours, a second email could be sent automatically and prefixed with something like 'you don't appear to have received my email copied below. Please acknowledge receipt' - and again after another 24 hours, etc.
 

The_Doc_Man

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or you could be really irritating and at the senders end if they haven't received a read receipt within say 24 hours, a second email could be sent automatically and prefixed with something like 'you don't appear to have received my email copied below. Please acknowledge receipt' - and again after another 24 hours, etc.

Since I know how to set up Outlook rules, I would notify the sender that all requests for a read receipt will automatically get deleted, never even giving me the chance to change my mind.
 

arnelgp

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just text them or notify them in fb.
i'm sure everybody is using it.
 

Gasman

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Speaking from a purely personal point of view, email messages from people who insist I provide read receipts tend to end up in the spam folder....
I have received read receipts from a bank here in the UK.
Nothing wrong with that you might say?

However they came from noreply@ :)
 

KitaYama

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Several years ago I had to do something like this. I purchased a domain and installed Apachee, MySql and PHP in one of our servers. I wrote a php script that saved current time and used $_Get to catch the user id and mail id passed to php script in address bar. And saved them in a MySql table.
I Also wrote a php page that extract the data from mySql table and showed the data in a page. And as the last step I added the page to Active Directory's safe DNS list.

The hard part was over.
When I wanted to send a mail, I used to add a picture with 1x1 pixel size and set its src to the above mentioned php page. Something like this http://mydomain.com/savereadmsg.php?userid=1&msgid=10
Since the address isn't a picture, I positioned the picture off screen to prevent outlook show a red X mark instead, position:absolute; TOP:2000px; LEFT:2000px

This made php create a record in mysql table ONLY the first time the mail was opened.
Now if I wanted to find out if someone has opened my mail or not I simply accessed receivedmail.php page in a browser to see if there's a record for that specific user and mail.

Later I added additional functionality and made php script send me a message who and when read my mail, with the same subject as my mail.

But we are living in a modern time and everything has changed.
Most of companies and organizations I know have stopped using e-mail.
Here, using e-mail or Outlook to contact others is somehow old-school.

Instant messaging Apps stand in first place here.
Their recent strong peer to peer authentication, allows us to send any kind of documents.
Line having the top share and Whatsapp sitting in second position, have stand-alone desktop apps and we can use them without our mobiles.

I don't think there's any need to explain instant messaging pros.
 
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Alc

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Basically, the security model being used by Outlook will not allow that, and you can blame the U.S. government from many years ago when they required all government computers to follow the "Orange Book" C2 standard or higher. The two factors that make it happen that way are

(a) your receipt is asking someone else's computer to do something involuntarily, which is a MAJOR security no-no (for the "someone else's computer"), and

(b) the returning mail with the receipt will have to go through site security policies regarding ANY mail, and can be blocked by firewalls at the other end, i.e. the reply might be from a non-local site that can be banned as a sender (of replies) even though there would be no problem with that site being a recipient of the original mail. I.e. stateful firewalls don't automatically recognize that reply as a follow-up transaction. Not saying a firewall CAN'T recognize a transaction like that - but they do not do so as a standard operation.

The complication is that SMTP is a "store-and-forward" style of sender protocol. The routing for the message might not come directly from the sender because of things like sub-net gateways, even though the inner layers of the encapsulated message would identify the original sender.
I figured I might be clutching at straws. Thanks for the detailed answer.
 

Alc

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Several years ago I had to do something like this. I purchased a domain and installed Apachee, MySql and PHP in one of our servers. I wrote a php script that saved current time and used $_Get to catch the user id and mail id passed to php script in address bar. And saved them in a MySql table.
I Also wrote a php page that extract the data from mySql table and showed the data in a page. And as the last step I added the page to Active Directory's safe DNS list.

The hard part was over.
When I wanted to send a mail, I used to add a picture with 1x1 pixel size and set its src to the above mentioned php page. Something like this http://mydomain.com/savereadmsg.php?userid=1&msgid=10
Since the address isn't a picture, I positioned the picture off screen to prevent outlook show a red X mark instead, position:absolute; TOP:2000px; LEFT:2000px

This made php create a record in mysql table ONLY the first time the mail was opened.
Now if I wanted to find out if someone has opened my mail or not I simply accessed receivedmail.php page in a browser to see if there's a record for that specific user and mail.

Later I added additional functionality and made php script send me a message who and when read my mail, with the same subject as my mail.

But we are living in a modern time and everything has changed.
Most of companies and organizations I know have stopped using e-mail.
Here, using e-mail or Outlook to contact others is somehow old-school.

Instant messaging Apps stand in first place here.
Their recent strong peer to peer authentication, allows us to send any kind of documents.
Line having the top share and Whatsapp sitting in second position, have stand-alone desktop apps and we can use them without our mobiles.

I don't think there's any need to explain instant messaging pros.
Until VERY recently, the people receiving these emails were still insisting on faxed communication.
IMs aren't even on the horizon.
 

Alc

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just text them or notify them in fb.
i'm sure everybody is using it.
trouble with a read receipt is it doesn't really mean that. It just means the email has been opened, it doesn't mean it has been read or even understood.

Assuming the recipients are all on the same system, perhaps you can make use of notifications in some way?
 

Alc

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Thanks for all the suggestions.

The messages have to go out via email, as that's the company standard when sending anything outside head office. Getting them to switch to IMs or anything else would mean getting a policy change implemented and we'd be talking six months or more, if it happened at all. I have to work with what I have unfortunately.

I appreciate not everyone likes read receipts but, so far, I haven't thought up an alternative way to determine if the emails are being opened or not. The instructions contained therein are so simple, there's no way anybody could claim not to have understood them.
 

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