Lions Email Etiquette: To BCC or Not
We’ve all been there: Someone sends a message to a large group of people and adds everyone’s email address in the “To” field, and then we have to endure a wave responses, and replies to those responses, and the body of every ensuing reply is littered with large blocks of email addresses.
When should we use BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) instead of using the “To” field?
If sending an email to a group of people who should all be privy to the replies (i.e., Reply to All), then use the “To” field. Seldom is there a need for this. Usually, messages sent to a large group of people are one way communications – sender to recipient – with no need for reply.
Using the BCC only displays a single recipient’s email address – the one receiving the message – not all recipients who were in the BCC. Doing so also lessens the possibility of future spam for your recipients.
BCC Helps Protect Your Computer
Some viruses will send an email to every address in an infected computer’s email messages and contact list. If a message is read on a computer with an email virus, it could spam every address it finds associated with that account. By using the BCC field, the only addresses a virus will find associated with that message are the sender’s and the recipient’s (not everyone else in the BCC field, because those addresses do not display).
There is no magic cutoff as to the maximum number of addresses before switching from the “To” field to BCC. It’s subjective, depending on the intent of the message. Rule of thumb, if you’re sending a message to two or more people, and there is no need for a reply (or only you need to see the replies), use the BCC.