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How do I prove an email has been delivered?

GSD4ME asked
Last Modified: 2012-08-14
How can I prove that an email I sent has been received?

I sent an important document to a business, asking them to acknowledge receipt. To date, I have heard nothing from them. I wish to find out whether the document was delivered to their server. I am still awaiting a response from my ISP as to how I ask them to confirm the document was delivered, so I am asking the same question on two fronts here.

I haven't yet asked the recipient company, because I want to establish some facts before they turn round and say "What document? Sorry, we haven't received it", which is a possibility.

I'm afraid I forgot to mark the "inform me when received or read" markers when I sent the actual email - an oversight on my part.
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Well, i think you are doing what you can all ready, so i think you all ready answered your own question :)

In short ... you can't

Email is a store and forward best efforts protocol.  All you can prove is that the message left your mail server and went to ???'s mail server.  That could be your ISP, their ISP or direct to them.  The problem is that you do not know what happened to it after that.

Checking the Delivery and Read Reciepts button also has little impact - email servers can easily be configured to strip these options out :-(.

In future you could do what spammers do which is embed a link to a picture on yourweb site.  When the recipient opens the email and elects to show the picture, you will see an entry in your web servers log.

Other than that there is nothing else you can do.  If you need a signature on a document you shouldn't send it by email :-(

Top Expert 2008

Greetings GSD4ME !

You can use a service like Didtheyreadit to confirm if recipient has read it.

But the best way is send a registered mail by US Post Office.

Hope this helps, war1

Confirm the date time that your email was transferred from your ISP's emails servers to the recepients server. This will be simple as your ISP should be capable of providing this service. If your email server is your own, check the logs to confirm date/time.

This may work if the receiving party has it's own email server and IT Support. Contact the IT support there and see if they could help you trace your email. If your ISP confirms that the email had been transferred properly, send a follow up email or resend same email till you do get a reply. Alternatively Fax a copy with a line written saying that you will love to hear from them (hope it's not a 500 page attachment).

Another way is to courier the docs to the other party.
Top Expert 2008

GSD4ME, any update?


My ISP are useless - their reply was "To prove that the mail was sent, there will be a copy in your SENT ITEMS folder"!!!
I would have thought that there would be an audit trail for every message sent via the WWW> Police manage to prove an email was sent so there must be a way.
As an aside, the company I sent the document to have acknowledged that they have received it (even though they admit as to not haveing READ it yet!)
Top Expert 2008

Have you tried the service Didtheyreadit, as I posted above?


No, I haven't.
From what I gather, this product only works with emails that I want to send in the future.
I have ALREADY SENT the email I want to trace, hence the request
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Many thanks

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