MailTrack for Chrome tracks if Gmail emails are read: here is how it works

Martin Brinkmann
May 24, 2014
Updated • Jul 22, 2019
Email, Gmail

MailTrack is a free browser extension for the Chrome web browser that tracks if recipients have read email messages that you sent using Google's email service Gmail.

The Chrome extension is available on the official Web Store and can be installed right from there. Once you have added it to Chrome, you are asked to link it to your Gmail account in the next step. If you are not signed in, you need to do so to complete the set up process.

The extension works in the background from that moment on. If you open the Gmail web interface, you will notice that it adds read indicators to some emails that resemble WhatsApp's indicators that are displayed when you sent messages using the mobile app.

Two green checkmarks indicate that a message has been read, and while checkmarks are displayed for messages that have been sent, they won't benefit from the feature because of how it works.

You do not need to do anything on your part to track whether your emails are read by recipients or not. Note that this only works if you compose them on Gmail directly, and not if you use third-party software or services to do so.

The interesting part here is how the tracking works. MailTrack uses remote content, a 1x1 pixel to be precise that it embeds into each email that you sent using Gmail.

When the recipient reads the email, the pixel gets requested and MailTrack notifies you about that. There are two issues with this approach:

  1. Remote contents are blocked by default in some programs and on some email service websites. Thunderbird for instance blocks it which means that MailTrack cannot track if the email was read or not unless the remote contents are loaded explicitly by the user.
  2. The message uses HTML code. If the recipient reads all messages as plain text, the tracking won't work either.

If the remote contents are loaded automatically or on user request, the hit to the image is recorded and you will see that it was read on Gmail.

email read

It is interesting to note that MailTrack tracks every time an email gets opened. When you hover over the confirmation icon on Gmail, you will receive a date and time list when that email has been opened by the recipient.

According to the company, it is never accessing email contents or keeping copy of emails on company servers.

While MailTrack may look like a great idea to get read confirmations on Gmail, it is a problematic extension for several reasons.

Privacy comes to mind first and foremost. Tracking read emails is not that different from being tracked by companies on the Internet. If you dislike that, it seems almost hypocritical to use such an extension.

It is also possible that recipients notice that they are tracked by you which may impact your personal or business relationship.

Note: Mailtrack adds a signature to all emails by default. You can disable it on the dashboard on the developer website. The signature displays "sent with MailTrack" on emails which is another hint for the recipient that the email may be tracked.

You can uninstall MailTrack at any time in the browser. Since you have given it permissions, you may want to remove those as well when you remove it. This is done on the account security page of your Google account.

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  1. JMGG said on January 19, 2012 at 8:25 am

    You said that Outlook isn’t your main email client, so which is your main one?

    1. BalaC said on January 19, 2012 at 9:42 am

      I think its thunderbird

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on January 19, 2012 at 10:15 am

      It is Mozilla Thunderbird.

  2. Salaam said on September 24, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Awesome! This actually solved my problem… what a stupid bug.

  3. Claud said on December 19, 2012 at 2:08 am

    If this is the same bug that I’ve encountered, there may be another fix: (1) hover over open Outlook item in Taskbar, cursor up to hover over Outlook window item, and right-click; (2) this should give you Restore / Move / Size / Minimize / Maximize — choose Move or Size; (3) use your cursor keys, going arbitrarily N/S/E/W, to try to move or size the Outlook window back into view. Basically, the app behaves as though it were open in a 0x0 window, or at a location that’s offscreen, and this will frequently work to resize and/or move the window. Don’t forget to close while resized/moved, so that Outlook remembers the size/position for next time.

    1. Lynda said on February 12, 2013 at 3:37 pm

      THANK YOU Claude!!! I could get the main window to launch but could not get any other message window to show on the desktop. You are my hero!!!!

    2. Chad said on November 20, 2018 at 4:24 pm

      Solved my issue! 6 years later and this is still problem…

    3. Ivan X said on January 21, 2021 at 4:50 pm

      Fantastic. Thank you. Size did the trick.

  4. Andrew said on October 26, 2013 at 7:06 am

    This solved my Outlook problem, too. Thank you. :)

  5. Charles said on December 7, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    Thank you so much, this started happening to me today and was causing big problems. You are a life saver, I hope I can help you in some way some day.

  6. garth said on November 7, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    You are a god – thank you!

  7. Faisal said on February 9, 2015 at 10:09 am

    thanks a lot…. work like charm.. :-)

  8. Simon said on March 24, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    Yah…thanks Claude. I’ve been having the same problem and tried all the suggestions…your solution was the answer. It had resized itself to a 0/0 box. Cheers

  9. Olu said on April 14, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    Excellent post. This had me baffled even trying to accurately describe the problem. This fixed it for me.
    Thank you

  10. Coenig said on July 23, 2015 at 7:36 am

    Thanks a lot for the article. Don’t know why it happenend, don’t know how it got fixed, but it was really annoying and now it works :-)

  11. Fali said on January 20, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Thanks a lot. I was facing this issue from past 3 week. I tried everything but no resolution. The issue was happening intermittently and mainly when I was changing the display of screen ( as i use 2 monitors). The only option i had was to do system restore. But thanks to you.

    1. MIki said on January 10, 2019 at 11:54 am

      I’ve been tried to sole this problem for 12hours. Your comment about changing the display of screen helped me a lot!! Thanks!!

  12. Christina said on January 20, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    Thank you…don’t know why this happened but your instructions helped me fix it. Running Windows 10 and office pro 2007

  13. Oz said on July 22, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    Great tip! Thanks!

  14. Tracy said on September 1, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Worked for me, too – thank you!!!

  15. shawn said on September 9, 2016 at 10:25 am

    It’s Worked for me, too
    thank you very much!

  16. Jari said on October 31, 2016 at 11:53 am

    I had a similar issue with Outlook 2013 on Windows 10 and this helped me to fix it. Thank you very much!

  17. Michel H said on November 30, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    Thank you so much. Solved!
    Considering you published this in 2012, incredible not been debugged by Microsoft.
    Thank you again. M

  18. Ziad Bitar said on January 9, 2017 at 2:00 am

    This problem was faced by only one user logging to TS 2008 r2 using outlook 2010.The issue was resolved.


  19. Anonymous said on February 15, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    Great tip. Thank you!!!! If it helps, I had to use the Control Key and the arrow keys at the same time to bring my window back into view. Worked like a charm.

  20. Rochelle said on March 6, 2017 at 11:59 am

    Thank you, this worked !!!!

  21. anom1234 said on May 20, 2018 at 11:20 pm

    Man, you are a fucking god. Thanks a lot, what an annoying bug!!

  22. JC said on October 12, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    Awesome, this post solved the issue. Many thanks!

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