Prevent recipient names from showing by using Bcc

Recipient names in e-mail messages can be hidden by adding them to the Bcc box.

Bcc (Bcc: An abbreviation for blind carbon copy. If you add a recipient's name to this box in a message, a copy of the message is sent to that recipient, and the recipient's name is not visible to other recipients of the message.) is shorthand for Blind carbon copy. If you add a recipient's name to this box in a mail message, a copy of the message is sent to that recipient, and the recipient's name is not visible to other recipients of the message. If the Bcc box isn't visible when you create a new message, you can add it.

In this article


Add a recipient as a Bcc recipient

To add a Bcc recipient to a message, do the following:

  1. Begin composing a message.
  2. Click To.
  3. In the Type name or select from list box, type the name or click Advanced, and then click Find.
  4. In the Name list, click the name, and then click Bcc (Bcc: An abbreviation for blind carbon copy. If you add a recipient's name to this box in a message, a copy of the message is sent to that recipient, and the recipient's name is not visible to other recipients of the message.).

If you frequently add Bcc recipients, a Bcc box can be added to all messages that you send. This option enables you to send messages to Bcc recipients quickly by typing names or e-mail addresses in the box as you do with the To or Cc box.

Always show the Bcc box when composing messages

  1. Begin composing a message.
  2. Do one of the following:
  • Microsoft Word is your e-mail editor    Click the arrow to the right of the Options button, and then click Bcc.
  • Microsoft Outlook is your e-mail editor    On the View menu, click Bcc Field.

The Bcc box will appear every time you compose a message. To turn the Bcc box off, repeat these steps.

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Best practices

  • Pave the way    Before you use Bcc, make sure your intended recipient is expecting it. That person may need to take steps to establish you as a safe sender (or a safe recipient, if your name will be on the To field of the Bcc message).

Why is this necessary? Using Bcc is a favorite technique of spammers. Therefore, a lot of junk e-mail filters will flag messages that use Bcc as being junk. So if your intended recipient hasn't added your name to the Safe Senders List in Outlook, your message may go straight to the Junk E-mail folder or its equivalent.

For more information about setting up the junk e-mail filter in Outlook, see Add a name to your Safe Senders or Safe Recipients List or Lesson: Get familiar with your junk e-mail filter.

  • Think before you use Bcc for a distribution list    People who use rules to sort their e-mail into folders will be inconvenienced if you list the name of the distribution list in the Bcc field. Because their rules depend on the name of the distribution list being in the To or Cc field, your message will not be sorted according to their rules.

For more information about distribution lists, see Create a distribution list.

  • Know your limits    Many e-mail service providers set limits for the number of names that can be in the To, Cc, and Bcc fields in a message. For example, your e-mail service provider may limit each message to a maximum of 100 e-mail addresses. If these addresses can be distributed among the To, Cc, and Bcc fields, remember that the names in the Bcc field will count toward your total limit. Ask your e-mail service provider about the policies for your account.

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Ideas for using Bcc

  • Keep the recipient list private    Bcc can help you be respectful of peoples’ privacy by keeping them in the loop without disclosing their identities. For example, if you send a job announcement to multiple people, you may want to use Bcc to keep the identities of the potential job seekers private.

 Tip    Consider using mail merge in Word as an alternative to Bcc. With mail merge, you can quickly send the same e-mail message to individual recipients. Mail merge allows you to do a mass mailing in such a way that there's just one name on the To line of the message.

  • Help curb a conversation that has gone wild    Here is one situation in which using Bcc for a distribution list or a large number of names can be helpful.

Suppose you send a message with a large number of people listed in the To field. The discussion starts to get lively, and everyone wants to give an opinion. The number of messages increases drastically because many recipients reply with the sentiment "please stop replying all to this message." The problem is that when they do this, they click Reply to All. One way to curb the use of the Reply to All option is to respond and put the name of the distribution list in the Bcc field. For example, you could click Reply, put only your name in the To field, move the distribution list to the Bcc field, and write a message similar to the following:

"I appreciate peoples' thoughts on this issue. If you have further comments, please respond to me directly. (I have put this distribution list in the Bcc field to cut down on the reply-to-all messages.)"

 Tip   

  • Reduce spam    While people who send junk e-mail or spam may like to use Bcc, they won't like it if you use it. If you hide the recipients' names by listing them in the Bcc field, no one will be able to copy the recipients' e-mail addresses from your messages.

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Applies to:
Outlook 2003, Word 2003