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The BCC Field
The BCC Field

This page explains how to send an email without showing addresses, or how to hide the email addresses in an email.


My friends send me "stuff". And organizations I belong to send me "stuff". And mailing lists I am on send me "stuff".

When you send people stuff you can send it in two distinct ways:

  1. So that everyone can see everybody else's email address, and
     
  2. So that everyone can't see everybody else's email address.

When you put the email addresses in the "To" field or in the "CC" field, everyone can see everyone else's email address.

But, when you use the "BCC" field, the system hides the addresses of everyone else.

I am writing this page to encourage everyone to learn about the "BCC" field and to learn how to use it.

The "BCC" field gets its name from "Blind Carbon Copy". "BCC" is a term that was originally used (back when dirt was a novelty and typewriters used carbon paper) to indicate a carbon copy that was being made but wasn't being acknowledged. It was a kind of  "secret" copy, one that the addressee didn't know about.

Today, in internet email it has a different use. It is used to hide email addresses so that you don't disclose everyone's email address to everyone else.

Why should you hide the address of everyone else? Because when you don't those addresses can get forwarded all across the internet.

When you send twenty of your friends an email showing all twenty email addresses and those people forward that email to twenty of their friends, suddenly 400 people now have your friends' email addresses.

These email addresses remain in the email and many people don't edit them out. I once received an email that had been forwarded and forwarded and I was able to harvest 278 email addresses from that one email.

ever wonder how your email address gets on those spam lists? This is one way.

Consider if every time your friend called their friend, they handed out your phone number to people who didn't know you. And then those people handed it out to people that they called.

Or what if every time your friend wrote (through the mail) their friends, they handed out your snail mail address to people who didn't know you. And then those people handed it out to people that they wrote.

This is what happens when people send your email address to people who don't know you.

Are you writing 5 of your friends who all know each other? No problem. They all have each other's email address anyway. You aren't disclosing anything.

Are you in the office or in a business transaction. No problem.

But, the next time you open up that email that was forwarded to you with a joke, motivational story, funny cartoon, or even with one of the ubiquitous virus alerts, look through that email. See how many email addresses you can see for people you do not know. And as you forward that email across the internet to your friends sending those email addresses to spammers, remember that you know how to hide your friends' addresses to protect them.

When you write, remember that you can be spreading your friends' email addresses all across the internet. Learn how to use BCC. And use it.


Hints for BCC

Some ISP's won't let you send only to BCC. If you try to send only to BCC and your ISP bounces your email, you may need to put at least one address in the "To" field. Here is a trick: use your own address in the "To" field. You can either put your own address directly, or, if you want to be even more clever, create an address in your own address book to use.

For example, you could create an address in your address book called "My Friends" and give that entry your own address. Then when you want to use the BCC, put "My Friends" in the "To" field and the real addresses in the BCC field.

The email will show up addressed to "My Friends". The other addresses will be hidden.


Special Note to WebTV Users and 
People Who Get Mail From WebTV Users

WebTV does not support BCC. Check here to confirm that information.

The extra text menu links (previously here) are being removed in the site redesign.
Browser and search engine improvements have eliminated the motivation/necessity for them.

This page created:
before
Fri, 25.Oct.2002

Last updated:
16:21, Sat, 10.May.2014

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