Both the Messages app on your iOS 5 device and the new Messages beta for your Mac allow you to send read receipts when you’ve checked out what someone’s sent you. It’s pretty neat, actually, for those of you who are trusting and honest enough to let folks know whether you’ve read their texts. It’s a per-device setting, so even if you have read receipts turned on for your iPhone, they won’t be sent for iMessages you get on your Mac unless you turn it on there, too. So here’s how you enable this (or how you make sure it’s off, for the suspicious ones—cough cough like me cough cough).
To use this feature with your iOS device, just go to Settings > Messages and toggle Send Read Receipts to On. Note that if you have the iMessage button turned off, this option won’t even show up.
Then your friends and foes will be able to see when you’ve actually opened the Messages app on your device and looked at their musings, assuming they’re also using iMessages—this won’t work for plain old SMS texts.
If you don’t have read receipts on, it’ll only indicate to your sender whether his message has been delivered successfully.
To do the same thing on your Mac, open the Messages beta (which you can download from Apple if you haven’t already) and choose the Messages > Preferences menu item. From the Accounts tab, click on the iMessage account you want to enable the receipts for, and then click the checkbox to do so.
Now everyone you get messages from will be able to know whether or not you’ve read what they’ve sent. I’m shuddering a little bit at the thought, honestly. How can we effectively ignore people in this sci-fi future we live in if we’re always sending read receipts? I’m not sure I’m ready for that.
Unfortunately, you can’t force anyone else’s device to send you a read receipt for messages you send out unless the other person enables it. Nor can you turn on read receipts on a person-by-person basis. Get on that, Apple.