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Bcc Explained

Paul from Maplewood, MN asks

Why do I sometimes get e-mails that are not addressed to me? In the To: line in the e-mail header is a e-mail address totally different from my own for a different e-mail client.

Why do you get emails that aren’t addressed to you? You’ll be glad to know it isn’t because of anything you’ve done! The answer lies in the Bcc field. This tip describes some the role of the Bcc field and its uses.

The Role of the Bcc Field

The Bcc field in an email client enables you to send an email to anyone, while displaying someone else’s email ID in the To: field. The following image displays an email being sent to impossibleemail@worldstart.com.

sharma_bcc_1 [1]

In addition to being sent to impossibleemail@worldstart.com, this email will also be sent to steve@worldstart.com, rupensharma@unrecognizableaccount.net, and editor@worldstart.com because their email IDs are in the Bcc field. When these recipients open the email, they’ll only see the email ID as specified in the To: field. The image below displays the email received by the recipients. Notice that the To field does not display the email IDs stated in the Bcc field.

sharma_bcc_2 [2]

Enable the Bcc Field

To use the Bcc field, you need to first enable it. In the email program, locate the Bcc link. The name of the link varies one email program to another. For example, in Yahoo! Mail, the Show Bcc link is used, as shown below.

sharma_bcc_3 [3]

Similarly, in Gmail, the Add Bcc link is used. To see how to add a Bcc field in Microsoft Outlook Express, take a look at at earlier WorldStart tip, Keeping Your Mass Mailing Contacts a Secret is Easy as BCC [4].

Uses of the Bcc Field

You might be wondering why anyone would bother using the Bcc field. Here are a couple of reasons:

Sending a Mass Mail: Suppose you want to send a Happy Easter email to several people. Instead of writing a personal email to each person, you could send all of them an Easter greeting by putting their names in the Bcc field and addressing the mail to yourself. If you put all their names in the To field, their email addresses will be displayed to everyone in the To list. This might not be appreciated by all recipients as it would be a violation of their privacy.

SPAM: The Bcc field is commonly used by Spammers. If you receive Spam emails, check the To field. If it doesn’t contain your email ID, then the Spammer has put your email address in the Bcc field.

~Rupen Sharma