What does bcc mean in email?

HotbotBy HotBotUpdated: June 21, 2024

Understanding Bcc: Blind Carbon Copy

The term "Bcc" stands for "Blind Carbon Copy." In the realm of email, it refers to a method of sending copies of an email to multiple recipients without disclosing the list of those recipients to each other. The concept originates from the days of carbon paper, where making a "blind" copy meant that the recipient of the original document wouldn't know about the additional copies made.

The Functional Mechanics of Bcc

When you send an email, you typically have three fields to consider:

- To: The primary recipient(s) of the email.

- Cc: Stands for "Carbon Copy," where secondary recipients are visible to all.

- Bcc: The recipients in this field are hidden from all other recipients, including others in the Bcc list.

Why Use Bcc?

There are several scenarios where Bcc proves invaluable:

  • Privacy: When emailing a large group, Bcc helps maintain the privacy of recipients. Each person receives the email without seeing others' email addresses.
  • Avoiding Reply-All Chaos: Using Bcc prevents recipients from using the 'Reply All' feature accidentally or intentionally, which can lead to a cluttered inbox.
  • Professionalism: In business communications, using Bcc can maintain a professional appearance by not exposing your contacts to each other.
  • Streamlining Communication: It ensures that responses come directly to you rather than to the entire group, making it easier to manage replies.

Bcc in Different Email Clients

Understanding how to use Bcc in various email clients ensures you can take advantage of this feature regardless of your platform.


In Gmail, Bcc is easily accessible:

  1. Click on "Compose" to create a new email.
  2. In the new email window, click on "Bcc" located next to the "To" field.
  3. Enter email addresses in the Bcc field.


In Microsoft Outlook, Bcc is also straightforward:

  1. Click on "New Email" to start a new message.
  2. Go to the "Options" tab and click "Bcc" in the "Show Fields" group.
  3. The Bcc field will now appear and you can enter email addresses.

Apple Mail

For Apple Mail users, here’s how to use Bcc:

  1. Click on "New Message" to start a new email.
  2. Click on "View" in the menu bar and select "Bcc Address Field."
  3. The Bcc field will appear, and you can add email addresses.

Bcc Etiquette and Best Practices

Using Bcc comes with its own set of etiquettes and best practices to ensure effective and respectful communication.

When to Use Bcc

  • Large Group Emails: When emailing a large group where recipients do not know each other.
  • Forwarding Sensitive Information: To keep the forwarding of sensitive information discreet.
  • Newsletters: Sending out newsletters or announcements where reply-all responses are not needed.

When Not to Use Bcc

  • Personal Messages: Avoid using Bcc for personal messages as it may come off as secretive or deceptive.
  • Transparency Needed: In situations where transparency is crucial, avoid Bcc to maintain trust.

Common Misconceptions About Bcc

Several misconceptions surround the use of Bcc, often leading to improper use:

Bcc is Deceptive

Some believe that using Bcc is inherently deceptive since recipients do not know who else received the email. In reality, Bcc is a tool for privacy and efficiency, not deception.

Bcc Recipients Can See Each Other

A common myth is that Bcc recipients can see each other’s email addresses. This is incorrect; Bcc ensures that each recipient only sees their own address.

Advanced Uses of Bcc

Delving deeper, Bcc can be used creatively for various advanced purposes:

Email Tracking

By adding your own email address in the Bcc field, you can keep track of the emails you send without cluttering your inbox with visible copies.

Automated Responses

In some email automation tools, Bcc can be used to trigger specific actions or responses based on predefined rules, streamlining workflows.

Security Considerations

While Bcc enhances privacy, it’s essential to be aware of security considerations:

Data Breaches

If your email account is compromised, any email addresses in your Bcc fields may also be exposed. Always ensure your email account is secure.

Phishing Risks

Phishers may use Bcc to send malicious emails to a large number of recipients. Be cautious of unsolicited emails, even if they appear to be from known contacts.

Legal Implications

In some jurisdictions, the use of Bcc can have legal implications, especially concerning data protection regulations:

GDPR Compliance

In the European Union, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) mandates strict data privacy rules. Using Bcc appropriately can help comply with GDPR by protecting recipients' email addresses.

Corporate Policies

Many organizations have specific policies regarding the use of Bcc to ensure compliance with internal and external regulations. Familiarize yourself with these policies to avoid potential legal issues.

The use of Bcc in email is a nuanced tool that, when used correctly, can enhance privacy, professionalism, and efficiency in communication. Understanding its mechanics, etiquette, and advanced uses can empower you to leverage this feature to its fullest potential. The next time you compose an email, consider how Bcc might play a role in your message delivery and what it signifies for your recipients.

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