Email Etiquette: BCC When Broadcasting Email to Multiple Recipients

I belong to a few advocacy groups run by well-meaning folks who are committed to spreading the message. Unfortunately, some of them are unaware of one of the first rules of e-mail etiquette – don’t pass along the email addresses of people you know to others without the expressed permission to do so.

What these folks usually do is use their email program to create a group – a list of all the email addresses they have in their address book for people related to the advocacy group. Whenever they send a message, they simply insert the group name into the TO box, and the message is broadcast to everyone in the group.

This is very efficient, but it displays the email addresses of everyone in the group to each person in the group, which is a big email etiquette no-no. This practice significantly increases the risk of having that email list fall into the wrong hands – the hands of a spammer who then starts sending spamming everyone on the list.

The proper way to handle mass mailings is to BCC (blind carbon copy) everyone on the list. With a blind carbon copy, everyone in the group receives the message, but the recipients’ email addresses remain hidden.

You can BCC individuals or groups. To create a group in Outlook Express, take the following steps:

  1. Open the Tools menu and click Address Book.
  2. Click the New button and click New Group.
  3. Type a name for the group.
  4. Click the Select Members button.
  5. Double-click the name or email address of everyone you want in the group.
  6. Click OK to close the Select Group Members dialog box.
  7. Click OK to save the group.

To BCC an individual or group in your address book take the following steps:

  1. Create a new email message as you normally would.
  2. Instead of clicking in the To: box and typing an email address, click To:. This opens the Select Recipients dialog box.
  3. Click the name or email address of each person to whom you want to send this message. You can select multiple recipients by clicking a group name or holding down the Ctrl key while clicking additional names/addresses.
  4. Click the Bcc:-> button.
  5. Click OK. This returns you to the New Message window, where you can proceed to compose and send your message. The To: and CC: fields are blank, and all group and individual names and addresses appear in the BCC: field.

Now when you send the message, none of the recipients will be able to see the names or email addresses of the other recipients.

Meet the Author

Joe Kraynak
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Author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Computer Basics.

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