Do you know what the blind carbon copy in email messages is and in what way Bcc is different from Cc? Do you know how to automatically add Bcc on all email messages you send in Outlook and how to always Bcc yourself? If not, you will find all the answers in this article.
If your work is related to email communication in any way, you probably often hear the following request from your co-workers: "Would you mind sending me a BCC copy?" Or, something less polite from your boss: "Be sure to BCC me on each and every email you send to this client!" But what does BCC actually mean and what's the difference between CC and BCC?
The answer is very simple. In e-mail terms, CC stands for "carbon copy" and BCC stands for "blind carbon copy." If you want to send a copy of your message to someone else, you can add those persons either to CC or BCC field and all of them will receive a copy of the e-mail. The difference is that CC recipients are visible to all other recipients (i.e. everyone listed in To, Cc and Bcc fields) while BCC recipients are not visible to anyone, not even to the person in the To field. Further on in the article, you will find how to:
Is BCC good or bad? The good manners of the Blind Carbon Copy
You can find different opinions on the web, most leaning towards Bcc being sneaky because recipients are blind and cannot see who else is reading the email, and this makes personal correspondence less private and more like spam. There is definitely a grain of salt in this, but on the other hand, any tool even the most decent and well-intended one may become malicious in the hands of a fool.
So what are the good practices and proper occasions of using BCC when sending email to multiple recipients? BCC'ing is fine when you send a business-related impersonal email to a lot of people who don't necessarily know each other. No one really cares how many recipients the message is sent to, and no one wants to scroll through dozens of names in the To field. Adding a hundred addresses to the To box wouldn't make your e-mail seem personal anyway. Moreover, if someone wanted to reply and absent-mindedly clicked the "Reply all" button, this could result in mass spamming : )
Well, that's enough of theory, let's move on to more practical things.
By default, the BCC field in hidden in Microsoft Outlook and you cannot see it when writing a new message or replying to someone's email. If you want to send a blind copy email, first you need to make the BCC box appear. Below you will find the instructions on how to display the BCC field in all versions of Outlook.
How to send a Bcc copy in Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013
- When composing a message, switch to the Options tab > Show Fields group and press the Show BCC button.
- Add the recipient name(s) to the Bcc box in the usual way, i.e. either by typing or selecting from the Address Book.
From now on you will always see the blind copy Bcc box when composing an email. If you want to hide a BCC field, simply click the Show BCC button again to toggle it off.Note: If you reply to an email message directly from the Reading Pane in Outlook 2013 (Microsoft calls it Inline replies), you will find the Show Fields group with the Bcc button to the right on the Message tab.
How to display the Bcc box in Outlook 2007
When composing a message, go to the Options tab > Fields group and click the Show BCC button.
How to add the Bcc field in Outlook 2003
If you are using Outlook 2003 or lower with Outlook as the email editor, then go to View > BCC Field.
If Word is set as the default email editor, navigate to the e-mail toolbar, press the little down arrow on the Options button and select BCC.
Microsoft Outlook provides a handful of templates to create rules for most common scenarios, and it offers even more options to design your own custom rules. Regrettably, it does not furnish any means to send blind carbon copy emails automatically neither by creating a BCC rule nor in any other way. And this is bad news. The good news is that there is the Auto BCC add-in for Outlook that compensates for this omission.
Creating a rule to Bcc on all email messages you send in Outlook
In fact, setting a blind carbon copy rule with the Auto BCC add-in is very similar to creating standard Outlook rules, so we'll be done in just a couple of minutes.
- In Outlook, switch to the AbleBits.com tab > Auto BCC/CC group and click the Rules button.
- The Auto BCC/CC window will opens and you click the New Rule button in the top left-hand corner.
- What you see now is the Create a New Rule dialog box. The first thing you need to do is to decide whether you want to auto bcc on all emails you send in Outlook from all your accounts or only if a message satisfies certain conditions (you will be able to specify the conditions later).
As you remember, we are creating a rule to Bcc on all outgoing email messages. So, we select the option "Apply the rule for all outgoing messages in all profiles" and give it a name that speaks for itself : )
- Click the Select Recipients... button in the right-hand part of the window and add Cc and /or Bcc recipients either by typing the email addresses or selecting from the Outlook Address book. As you see in the screenshot below, you can add more than one Bcc address in the rule to send a blind carbon copy email to multiple recipients.
- After entering the addresses in either BCC or CC field, or both, click the OK button to close the dialog and you are done.
That has been pretty easy and quick as promised, hasn't it? : ) Now let's see how you can send BCC copies based on one or several conditions.
Creating a rule to Bcc on emails that meet certain conditions
This is a very convenient function if you have several email accounts and you want to automatically add Bcc on all emails sent from one of your accounts.
In this case you choose the option "Apply the rule only if a message meets certain conditions", and check Account is under Conditions. After that you only need to click on the ellipsis button next to the Account is check box and select the needed account.
In a similar way you can create a BCC rule based on other conditions, such as:
- Bcc on messages sent to the specified addresses
- Bcc on emails with certain words in the subject line or attachment name
- Bcc on e-mails with certain words in Cc or "Sent on behalf of" addresses
If you want to add some exceptions to your Bcc rules, for instance send blind email copies on all messages except when sent from a particular account, head over to the Exceptions tab and choose an appropriate option(s):
It is often the case with me that I click the Send button and then remember that I should have BCC'ed on that particular email but not sure whether I actually added the names to the Bcc box. If this occasionally happens to you too, you can check the Bcc recipients of any message you sent, as explained below.
How can I see the Bcc recipients of email messages I send?
- Navigate to the Sent Items folder in your Outlook.
- Find the e-mail in question and open it. You will see the Bcc names in the header section of the message on the File tab:
Yep, it's that simple!Note: If you preview a message in the Reading Pane, the Bcc field won't show up, you will see only the To and Cc recipients. So, be sure to open the message from the Sent Items folder to view the Bcc names as well.
How do I view the Bcc recipients of email messages I receive?
This is not possible in any Outlook version. No way. The only person who can see the names of Bcc recipients is the message sender.
There may be several reasons why you may want to automatically BCC yourself every time you send a message in Outlook. For example, this would let you keep copies of all the messages you sent from different devices in one place. In this case the "Always BCC Myself" feature would come in really handy, and some email clients such as Gmail or Apple do provide it. In this regard, Microsoft Outlook has left behind because no such option is available even in Outlook 2013 and Outlook.com.
As an alternative, you can configure an Outlook rule to move a copy of each message from the Sent Items folder to your Inbox or some other folder of your choosing. However, this approach is not always as good as sending a Bcc copy to yourself, and here's why:
- Always Bcc myself is the best way to make sure that an email has been appropriately sent.
- When BCCing yourself, you will get a blind copy of each email you've sent with the time stamp of sending. In case your recipient hasn't received the message for some reason, you will always have an indisputable evidence that the email was really sent.
As I've mentioned above, Outlook does not provide any way to automatically Bcc yourself on every email you send. But the Auto BCC add-in does! You would create a BCC rule in the same way as explained in the previous section. At that, you can choose whether you want to send a Bcc copy to yourself an all the messages sent from all your accounts or only those messages that meet the conditions you specify.
To BCC yourself on each and every message you send, choose the option "Apply the rule for all outgoing messages in all profiles" and enter your own e-mail address in the Bcc box.
To BCC yourself only on the messages that meet certain conditions, choose the option "Apply the rule only if a message meets certain conditions" and then specify the conditions and/or exceptions you want. For example, I created a rule to Bcc myself on the messages sent from my personal account and containing the word "Important" in the subject:
If this is what you are looking for, you can download a 15-day trial version of Auto Bcc for Outlook and see whether it works right for you. This add-in is compatible with Outlook 2013, 2010, 2007 and 2003.
If you need to send a blind copy email in some other way or know a more elegant solution, please do share in comments. Thank you for reading!