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How to enable read receipts for texts on Android

If you want to know when someone has read your SMS message on Android, you can configure the default app to find out.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Reviewed by Min Shin
texting with dog
gollykim/Getty Images

How many times have you wondered if someone saw your text? Fortunately, there's a feature on Android to help you answer that question. It's called Rich Communication Services (RCS).

Also: How to enable Android's chat features

RCS adds extra capabilities to the Messages by Google app, including high-res media sharing, location sharing, typing indicators, end-to-end encryption, and read receipts. The caveat is twofold. First, you must enable RCS on your Messages app. You also must ask the person you're communicating with to enable RCS. Furthermore, if you're texting someone with an iPhone, it's all moot anyway because Apple refuses to adopt the RCS standard.

The big question for me (for a while now) has been, "Why isn't RCS enabled by default?" I've tried to find out why, but there's very little information on this issue. The only conclusion I can draw is that because not every country in the world (nor Apple) has adopted RCS, Google has put the onus of enabling it on the consumer. 

Also: How to FaceTime on Android

Another possibility is that there are still quite a large number of Android phones being used with outdated operating systems that don't support RCS. Enabling RCS by default could cause problems with those older devices.

However, if Google would finally enable RCS by default, you wouldn't have to then reach out to your contacts to say, "If you're on Android, please enable RCS on your device." Doing that then opens a can of worms wherein you suddenly become tech support for that person to guide them through enabling the feature.

Should you find yourself in such a situation, let me show you how to do this, so you can then just point your contacts to this article to avoid having to explain it yourself.

How to turn on read receipts on Android 

What you'll need: The only thing you'll need is an Android device with an updated operating system. 

1. Open Messages settings

The first thing to do is open Messages by Google. Once open, tap your profile picture in the upper right corner. From the resulting menu, tap Messages settings. 

The Android Message popup menu.

Accessing the Messages settings window in Android 13.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

2. Open RCS chats

In the Settings window, tap RCS chats at the top of the page.

The Messages settings page.

There are plenty of other configurations you can take care of here.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

3. Enable RCS Chats

At the top of this page, tap the On/Off slider to turn on RCS chats to enable the feature. Once you've done that, all of the options will become available to you. 

Also: How to get more security out of Android Messages

Make sure the On/Off slider for Send read receipts is in the On position. You can also enable any other features you might want to add.

The RCS Chats settings page in Android 13.

Make sure to check through all the RCS Chats settings options and enable everything you want.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

Once you've enabled RCS chats (and read receipts), back out of the Settings window and you're good to go. You'll then want to make sure anyone you chat with (either individuals or groups) has RCS chats enabled as well (otherwise, the features won't work for you). 

Also: How to configure conversations as Priority in Android (and why you should)

And that's all there is to make sure you know when your fellow Android users have received and read your SMS messages. Hopefully, someday in the near future, RCS will be enabled by default on all new Android devices, so you don't have to call out your friends and family who haven't enabled the feature.

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