Mac Tips: Email Blind Carbon Copy (BCC)

This is a simple tip for all email users. In short: Use BCC. This will make you more friends, and it will influence those with whom you are not friendly to become your chum. Really! Would I kid you?

Almost every email system offers three ways to address an email message: "TO:", "CC:" and "BCC:". These usually show up as three little text fields at the top of your email composing window. Remnants from before the "paperless" office, they still work today. Use the right method, and the prudish fates will kiss you with sloppy kisses of fortune. Screw it up and everyone will laugh at you. 'struth! Here's the deal on each:


... is pretty obvious. Send this message "to" these addresses.


... is less obvious. Short for "Carbon Copy," it basically tells the primary addressees (ie. the "to" folks) that "these other addresses are getting this too, but don't reply to them." This way an email recipient knows to only reply to the sender, not to the whole list of recipients. This is great in theory, but people rarely paid attention, so the "reply" button in most email programs just replies to the sender anyway, so the "reply to all" button was born.

(NOTE: Avoid the dreaded "reply to all" button, unless you must use it. People hate receiving your reply to the sender.)


... is the unsung hero! Addresses put in the "Blind Carbon Copy" field will receive the email, but these addresses will not be visible to the rest of the recipients. Thus the "blind" part. When you send out an email message to a list of people, it is COMMON COURTESY to "BCC:" them all.

"BCC" protects the privacy of your recipients, it keeps the addresses from being reused by someone else, and it keeps your message from looking like it was sent out to a billion people. Your message is thus more personal and effective, and replies are not littered with twenty lines listing the whole group. Use it! Love it! BCC it!