Using BCC with multiple email recipients

This is an explanatory post triggered by a forum conversation about sending out group emails and the importance of using the BCC field.

What is the BCC field?

BCC in this case stands for “Blind Carbon Copy.” It allows you to send an email to multiple people, whilst keeping the recipient list private.

What happens if you don’t use BCC?

If you send an email to multiple people and don’t use BCC (if you put all their emails in the more usual “to” field), there are two consequences:

  1. You are sharing the email addresses of everyone in the email with everyone else (see image below).
  2. If recipients hit “reply-all” rather than “reply” to email you back, they will email EVERYONE you sent the email to in the first place. This is a common problem, as many email services have changed the default behaviour to reply all rather than reply.
The email above used “to” rather than “bcc.” As you can see, the email address of the second recipient is visible.

The behaviour of the “to” field is appropriate if the email is a group conversation amongst friends. It is not appropriate if you are sending out a group email to clients, or followers of a project.

Using BCC

Using the “bcc” field is easy, but not always obvious (hence this post). The screenshots below are from gmail, as that is one of the most common services.

When creating a new email in gmail (and some other services) the BCC field is hidden. Look for the button to reveal the BCC field (as shown below).

BCC Button

This will add the missing field under the regular “TO” field. Just add your recipients to this new field instead.

BCC Entry.png

When you send an email using the BCC field, recipients will not see the email addresses of other recipients:

BCC Recipient


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