How to Bcc in Outlook

Do you want to send an email to people without them knowing who is on the distribution list?
If that’s the case, the BCC functionality is for you.
Discover here how to Bcc in Outlook.

How to BCC in Outlook

Bcc stands for blind carbon copy, and it is a feature that is included in your Outlook service.
However, you may need to enable it.

  • Open a new blank email > Go to Options > Click on Bcc

If you need more details, see below step-by-step how to Bcc in Outlook.

Step by step on how to Bcc in Outlook

To Bcc in Outlook, it is very simple. Following this step-by-step guide, you will be able to set up the Bcc functionality in your Outlook.

Step by Step
Open a new email (Ctrl + n)

Go to Options

Click on Bcc

The Bcc option will appear

There you are – the Bcc field will be visible in your emails! Forever.
And you may wonder, why use Bcc when I have the Cc option, very good question!

What is the difference between Cc and Bcc?

The Cc and Bcc terms both are coming from the times when the electronic typewriter was in use.
(if you are curious about the history of the Cc and Bcc terms, you can read more about it down the post)

Cc stands for carbon copy and Bcc stands for Blind carbon copy,

People in Cc (carbon copy) would receive a copy of the message and would be able to see the rest of the people included in the To and Cc field.

Important to highlight that people in the To field and people in the Cc field would be visible to everyone who receives the message.

People in Bcc (blind carbon copy), the same as people in Cc would receive the email with just one exception.
The email address of the recipients specified in the Bcc field would not be visible to the people in the To and the Cc fields.
These people in To and Cc fields will not know whose emails are in the Bcc field.

Summary: People in the To and Cc fields can not see who is in the Bcc. People in the Bcc field can see who is in the To and the Cc field but not the rest of the people in the Bcc field.

Okay, so when shall you use the Bcc field?

When to use Bcc in emails in Outlook

Using Bcc is one of the Outlook functionalities that will make you look very professional,
and unfortunately, it is very much underused in the corpo world.
I bring you here some examples of when to use the Bcc functionality.

A large number of people’s emails:

For example, you want to send your farewell email when changing your assignment or company,
and you include many people in the Cc field.
What do I recommend to you instead?
Include all those people in the Bcc field and put yourself into the To field.

Why?
Changes are high not all the people in the distribution list know each other. It will look more professional not to share email addresses between people who do not know each other.
On the other hand, if you are sending an email to many people, and all of them know each other, you can put them in the Cc field. In case of doubts, go for the Bcc option.

Email introduction

You start a new role, you are given a list of emails who will be your counterparts.
Instead of sending one individual email to each of your colleagues,
you can send the same email to all of them by including them in the Bcc field and putting yourself in the To Field.

People in the Bcc field will not know who else received the email.

For your information (FYI) emails:

You are leading a project and you want to share an update on the status with the project team while sharing heads up with your manager.
You will put the project team in the To and Cc fields and your manager in the Bcc field. This way your manager would get the same email with the update, and the project team (in To and Cc fields) will not know your manager will receive the email.

Escalations:

There is an issue your manager should be aware of, but you don’t want the other party to see you involved your manager. The bcc option is what you are looking for.

Send a copy of the email to yourself

This is my favourite option while using Bcc;
I use it every day as part of my process while effectively following up to send follow-up emails. especially when I need to send a follow up email or when I am working on my Tasks in Outlook .

When to use To, Cc and Bcc while sending emails in Outlook

While sending an email,
if the purpose is for people to get an email, you could simply put everyone in the To field and they would get a copy of the email.
However,
there are certain non-written rules in terms of what it means if your email appears either under the To field, the Cc field or the Bcc field.

What does appearing in To Field means?

The To field means, “This email is specifically for you, and I’ll be talking to you in the body of the email.”

What does appearing in Cc Field means?

The CC field means, “I want you to be aware of what I said in this email, and I am okay letting the person in the To field know about that fact.”

What does appearing in Bcc Field mean?

The BCC field means, “I want you to be aware of what I said in this email, but I don’t want the person in the To field nor in the Cc field to know that you’re seeing it.”

What are the risks of using the Bcc field?

As there are many benefits of using the Bcc field while sending our emails,
there are certain risks that you need to be aware of, let’s investigate them:

Transparency
By including people in the Bcc field, we are hiding that part of the information from the people in the To and the Cc field. On top of this, normally people on the Bcc field are not able to tell that they were included in the Bcc field

Trust
The use of the Bcc field could lead to a reduction of trust among your coworkers. Sometimes Addressees who are not informed of other recipients of the email could consider the use of the BCC line to be a breach of trust.

Lack of control
Bcc recipients can reply to all.
And if a Bcc recipient replies, everyone else in the email (in To and Cc) will see the reply.
It could indeed be seen as a lack of transparency and trust.

What BCC in Outlook is?

Bcc stands for blind carbon copy.

The carbon copy term is borrowed from the old days when there were no modern laptops,
but instead,
we were having the very first version of our today’s laptops – the electronic typewriter.


How were copies made back on time?
The copies were made by inserting a special sheet of inked paper called carbon paper into the typewriter.

History of the CC and BCC terms

Nowadays, when you need to make a copy of a document it is rather simple.
You go to the printer, insert the document you want to make a copy of into the machine, and there you have it.
You will have as many copies as you need.

70-80 years ago, it was not the case. Printers did not exist.
Have you ever wondered how copies were done in the past?
Some hints: An electronic typewriter and a special paper called carbon paper.

Why am I telling you?
You, as people years ago, are using carbon paper as well.
The only difference is that you are using the modern version of carbon paper


When you send an email, you put some people in To, some people in Cc and even some people in Bcc

Cc would be the equivalent nowadays of the same carbon paper used many years ago when the electronic typewriter was in use.

And this is it, this is the history of the Cc (and Bcc) and how it is reflected nowadays in our emails.

FAQ How to bcc in Outlook:

Some questions you may be wondering about how to Bcc in Outlook

Can Bcc recipients reply to all?

Yes, Bcc recipients can reply to all.
And if a Bcc recipient replies, everyone else in the email (in To and Cc) will see the reply.

What happens if a person on the Bcc replies all?

If someone on the Bcc replies to all, everyone else in the email (in To and Cc) will see the reply.
However if there will be more people in Bcc, those in Bcc will not see the reply.

Can a Bcc recipient see To and Cc recipients?

Yes, the Bcc recipient will be able to see the To and Cc recipients as the email is the same version that is sent to everybody. However, the Bcc recipients can not see the other recipients in the Bcc field.

Can the Bcc recipients, in a mail, see the other BCC recipients?
No, the Bcc recipients cannot see the other Bcc recipients.

How can I see the list of Bcc recipients on an email I received?

If you are in the To or the CC field, you can’t see the list of people in the Bcc field. It is not possible to see the list of Bcc recipients in an email you received.

Can I use Bcc to send emails to a large number of people?

Yes, you can. For example, when you are sending a farewell email or an email to a big distribution list, I would strongly recommend you use the Bcc functionality, especially when including people who do not know each other.

If I “reply all” to a message I received with a BCC recipient (assuming there is one, I just don’t know it), does the BCC recipient get my response as well?

No, if you reply to all, the people in the Bcc field will not receive your response. Only the people in the To and the Cc field will receive the message.

Can I send a Bcc email without a recipient in the To and Cc fields?

No, all emails need to include at least one recipient either in the To and/or the Cc fields.
You can put yourself in the To field and the rest of the email addresses in the Bcc field.

I want to use the Bcc functionalities without using the Bcc field, what can I do?

You can send your email normally to the To and Cc people. Once the email was sent you can forward this email to the people you were planning to put in the Bcc field.

What can I do when sending farewell emails to a large list of people?

If you want to keep confidential the list of people who will receive your email, you can use the bcc functionality in Outlook. This way, nobody will see who is included in your email. Remember to include your own email in the To field.

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