How to turn Apple iMessage read receipts off

iMessage remains Apple’s all-purpose message app. If you’re happily ensconced in the Apple world, you probably don’t use social media message apps like WhatApp or Messenger unless it’s the only way to contact friends or family — iMessage takes care of pretty much everything.

But that doesn’t mean the app is perfect. It does have its issues, including compatibility issues with those using an Android or Samsung phone. One of the most common annoyances is the built-in ability to send “read receipts” along with an iMessage message. These are intended to be helpful: They display to the sender when a text bubble has been successfully sent, and when it has been read.

The problem is there’s a host of situations when you, as a recipient, don’t really want everyone to know when you saw their text messages. Awkward, tense, or romantic conversations may suffer when every message has an instantly updated status and the wait between messages is hauntingly apparent.

Apple knows this, which is why there’s a way to turn off these read receipts…but not many users know how to do it. Our tutorial will walk through the basics of turning off the feature on iPhone, iPad, and similar devices.

How to turn off Apple iMessage read receipts

This method is simple and works well on any modern iOS, right up through the iPhone 15. However, we encourage iPhone users to make sure that their iPhone or other device is fully updated to at least iOS 17 before you begin. There’s a small chance updates will flip this customization back off, so get it done before you start.

Note that you can turn off read receipts like this on any Apple device, but the UI will look a bit different depending on the platform you’re using (like MacBook or iMac’s MacOS). Search a bit and you should find the option either way.

Source: Screenshot

Login and open up Settings app with the gear icon.
Scroll down the left-side menu until you find the Messages section. Select it.
Scroll through your Messages menu until you reach the section that starts with Send Read Receipts.
Toggle the Send Read Receipts option off.

This option will shut down read receipts for everyone on your contact list. When they send you a message, they won’t get updates about when you see the message. If you use iMessage on multiple devices, you need to repeat these steps with each device, as the toggle info won’t sync across platforms like Mac. If you use gadgets like an Apple Watch, changing iPhone settings should apply to the watch, too.

Maybe you want some people to get fast updates about when you’ve seen the message. That could be important for certain family members or work situations. Fortunately, Apple has a way to customize read receipts for specific contacts without banning them across the whole messaging app.

Source: Screenshot

Go to an iMessage conversation with a contact that you want to turn off read receipts for. Tap their name or number at the top of the screen.
In the contact menu that opens up, look down to see the option to Send Read Receipts. Make sure it’s toggle off. Timestamps will only turn off for this person.
Repeat this for all contact read receipts you want to disable.

How do read receipts work on Android phones? Do people still see them?

You can use iMessage to send and receive messages from a message/SMS app on an Android phone. However, the read receipt hacks will only work if both users are on Apple devices. If one person is using iMessage on an Apple device and the other person is on an Android phone with any messaging app, read receipts won’t work for either party. Remember, you can always tell if you’re getting full iMessage texts because of their blue bubbles. Otherwise, messages will show up as a green bubble.

If you want to enable read receipts, you will both have to use a different messaging app like WhatsApp, Signal, Facebook Messenger, etc., and both turn read receipts on.

Never worried about friends getting “left on read” again

You can toggle the read receipts feature on and off whenever you want. Past SMS messages won’t update with their read status, so there’s no problem with shifting the feature based on your conversation. Now you know how to manage this feature and exactly what it does! To continue, consider reading up on our guide on Android digital privacy.

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