Bcc, or blind carbon copy, gives you more control over the recipients of your e-mail and how they can see who else received the message. It also limits who gets a reply if they click Reply to all. In short, recipients who are bcc-ed will receive the message, but no one else will know it. As we'll see, this has a few advantages. Before I cover when to use bcc, I'd better show you how to use it. You can temporarily use bcc by clicking the To or Cc buttons while addressing an e-mail, select your recipient and click bcc, or place your cursor here, and enter an e-mail address.
If you want a more accessible bcc field, you can start a new message and click on the Options tab, and then click bcc. Outlook will remember that this feature is turned on anytime you create a new message in the future. With the Bcc field exposed, you can type directly into the field, just like To and Cc, and you can also drag and drop names between the fields.
Now let's check out five ways to use it. The first is to keep names private. The whole point of bcc is not to let recipients see who else got the message. If you're sending a message to a ton of people--perhaps an invitation to an event or promotional e-mail--you should really consider bcc-ing the list. That way, recipients can't see each other's names, and you won't be violating their privacy. You can put yourself in the To field, so there is at least one visible recipient.
Number two is to avoid a reply to all. If you sending out an e-mail that sure to cause some replies, you might use bcc to avoid the chronic reply to all problem that you've surely experienced. Many users hit reply to all by mistake, or intentionally, but using bcc limits the recipients to just you. A third way is to copy yourself at home or another e-mail address. Have you ever found yourself engaged in a personal conversation at work? When you hit reply to tell that person you're going to get back to him later, consider bcc-ing yourself at home.
That way, when you get home, your e-mail will be there waiting for you. The fourth is to give yourself a reminder. What shows up at the top of your own Inbox? Usually that's your most recent messages, even the ones you may have sent yourself. If you're replying to a very important e-mail and don't want to risk forgetting about it, you could bcc yourself, so that you reply appears in your Inbox as soon as you send it.
The fifth is to pass on a hint. Many times, we'll use e-mail to tell a customer or colleague that we're going to have someone else assist them or return their call. Bcc-ing that someone else is an elegant way to pass the message on. As an added bonus, the direct recipient doesn't get to see the bcc-ed address, but the bcc-ed recipient can easily reply to that center, if they want to. That covers our power tips on addressing so let's move on to formatting.
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