Using CC and BCC When Composing Email

In addition to sending email 'to' someone, you can also include additional email addresses in the CD and BCC fields. CC is a way to send copies of your messages to people that need to know the information, but don't need to respond. BCC is a good way to send messages to people without sharing their email address with others.

Video Transcript
Hi, this is Gary with MacMost.com. On today's episode let's take a look at using CC and BCC fields in Mail.

Let's say you are composing a new email message. Now, normally you would always see the To field here but you may also see a CC and BCC field. If you don't you can turn them on by going to View and turn each one on. You may see these if you already had them turned on.

So, let's look at what these two things mean. Normally, of course, you would send an email to one person and you would click in the To field and start typing their name and then select from the list or just complete the email address or name yourself. You can also include a second one, if you want, as well. Include as many as you want here. You can use the + button to actually access your Contacts and grab one from there as well. So you can put as many people in the To field as you want.

So what about the CC field. The CC field (CC stands for carbon copy, a throwback to, of course, using carbon to make a second copy of something that was typed back before the digital age.) would send a copy of this email to somebody else. It acts really the same as the To field. There is not much of a difference. Add the email address here and then that person would also get it. So four people would get this email.

The only difference would be that they would each see that these three people got it To them and this person got a CC of that email. But they can all respond and if they respond to All everybody will get it including you as the sender. So there is very little difference. The only real difference between them technically is that you must have one email address in To whereas you don't need to do a CC at all. But if you do use CC you still have to have one email address in To. You can't have this be blank and have a whole bunch of people CC'd.

Now there is an etiquette difference. When you send something to somebody it is expected that they think this came to me. I should be responding and reading this, and all that. Whereas if somebody gets CC'd on an email then it's basically saying well this isn't to you, this is to this other person, but you should also get a copy of this. You don't need to respond. That sort of thing. Everybody sees everybody else's email address so the person who get CC'd on it sees who it was to and that were CC'd and if anybody else was CC'd. Likewise with the people who got To.

So it is just a kind of etiquette difference. Most of the time you are just going to send an email to somebody. But occasionally you might want to CC somebody just so they are in the know with whatever information is in this email message. But you don't have to. You could certainly put this name up here in To. I can drag and drop between these and it will functionally be basically the same.

So what about BCC. Well, BCC will work similar to CC in that people will get a copy of this email message. So we'll just send one here. This person will get the same email that everyone else gets. There are some differences though.

One thing is that these people up here will not see that this person, who was BCC'd, actually got a copy of the email. They don't see who it went to. So you can include a whole bunch of people here and nobody who this was To or CC'd to would know that they got the same emails as everybody else.

Also, if you have multiple people in BCC they don't see each other. So nobody knows who things were BCC'd to.

So one possible use for this is say you want to send out an email and you don't want to share everybody's email address with everybody else. You could send it To one person, because you always have to have one person in the To, and then you can BCC, say, ten other people. Those ten people would get the message but they wouldn't know that ten other people also got it. Well they would know one person got it because they can see them in the To line but they wouldn't know that nine other people were BCC'd or that they were even nine people in BCC.

So it is useful for some things. For instance if I am doing a test of a new app. I may have a small groups of early testers, say ten testers, and it is not really my place to share everybody's email address with everyone else. It is kind of private information. So I will send an email to myself so it looks like I've sent a message just from me to me. Then I would BCC everybody in there and all ten people would get a copy of that but they wouldn't see the other nine email addresses or that there were even nine other people.

If they hit Reply All for that email it only goes to the To or CC'd people because, of course, there is no way for them to know who the BCC people are. So it avoids the whole thing where you send To a bunch of people and somebody hits Reply All and then everybody gets the response and maybe it wasn't meant to be for everybody, just for you as the sender. So BCC kind of solves that problem.

There is some good uses for BCC over using CC. In general you should keep in mind though if you are using email for professional purposes for work or for sending out notifications for people for your website or things like that you should not send out huge amounts of email using CC or BCC or even To from your email address because most likely your ISP is not going to appreciate that and may try to mark you as a spammer. But you would want to use a professional service like AWeber or something like that to send out email to a large group.

This is just kind of for personal use. For use with small groups of friends or coworkers. Anything bigger than that and you want to look for a professional email solution. If you work for a company they may already have something that you can use and you should talk to the IT people there about it.

Comments: 12 Responses to “Using CC and BCC When Composing Email”

    Thomas S. England
    12/21/15 @ 10:33 am

    Is there a way to see the names of people that were BCC’d on an email that has been sent?

      12/21/15 @ 10:39 am

      For a message that you sent, yes. You should see that when you look in your sent email mailbox. The TO, CC and BCC information is all there in the header.

    Ed
    12/21/15 @ 1:05 pm

    Nice summary. Unless I missed it, I did not hear you tell what the B in BCC stands for — “blind”.

    Jimmy
    12/21/15 @ 5:09 pm

    Thanks. Very helpful

    Keith Flanagan
    12/23/15 @ 10:10 am

    Gary,
    I love your podcast and usually you are 100% accurate. Not today though. You do NOT need a To: recipient to use BCC: I send email using just BCC: recipients all the time. The only thing is that it will show up in the senders email as to “No Recipients”.

      12/23/15 @ 10:15 am

      You are right! But that definitely wasn’t true in the past at some point. If you tried to send email from Mac Mail in the past without a “to” it wouldn’t let you. Not sure when that changed.

      Dennis Craig
      12/25/15 @ 8:56 am

      Exactly. I use Bcc: a lot when I send out fairly sensentive emails to groups when I don’t want to embarrass others in the group. You do NOT need to have a name in the TO: block.

        Bob Perdriau
        1/2/16 @ 6:53 pm

        If I send email using some BCC entries each recipient can reply and I get the responses. Does everyone else on the BCC list get them?

        Also, if I do a Reply All to an email that has BCC recipients do those recipients get copies?

        I think the answer to both questions is no but this is a potential for major communication problems and mis-understandings.

          1/2/16 @ 6:55 pm

          If a BCCed person replies, it can go just to the “reply-to” address or the reply-to, to and cc addresses if they hit “reply all.” But it cannot go to others you BCCed because that information never goes to that person. Their email app doesn’t have any way to know who the other BCC people are, or even if there are any.

    Alice Szasz
    3/10/16 @ 12:52 pm

    Enjoyed your video. It really helps, but how many email addresses can I put in the BCC before it is considered spam? I have a church mailing list for our newsletter.

    3/10/16 @ 1:12 pm

    Alice: Depends on your email provider. But I would say that any number is too many. If you want to send out a newsletter, you should do it with an email newsletter service.

Comments Closed.