About addressing multi-person emails

How to send emails to lots of people

GraffitiI am certain you wouldn’t write your friends’ colleagues’ or contacts’ phone numbers or email addresses on the walls in public places – no, of course you wouldn’t.

Please then, don’t share your contacts’ E-mail addresses with a whole group of people.  Let me explain a bit more . . .

The problem arises when you send an email and include every recipient’s name in the  ‘To:’  address box.  This means all those addresses are visible to everyone you sent the email to.

For a start, your contacts might not want their email address shared with dozens (or even hundreds?) of other people.  Worse, all those addresses will be visible to any email-harvesting virus any one of those recipients might already have (or get later) on their PC.

So, with the kindest of intentions, may I please ask you to consider the following.  You can really easily become a more considerate and more thoughtful E-mail user – to all your contacts.

Instead of putting everyone into the To: field, use your email program’s BCC feature.


BCC means Blind Carbon Copy. It provides a way of addressing messages to more than one person so that everyone’s addresses are not displayed for all the others to see.  That’s what it’s there for.  :-)

All email programs, including the web-based email services, allow you to address messages using BCC.

Of course, all email programs require that you put at least one address in the  To:  address field before sending, so simply put your own email address in the TO: box, then, put your recipients’ addresses in the BCC box.  Easy!  In other words, you send the email to yourself and BCC all the people on your list.  It’s easy to do and far more courteous to, and safer for, all your recipients.

Why you should use BCC

  1. Using BCC protects your recipients’ private email addresses from being released into the public domain.
  2. Using BCC greatly helps prevent spam.
  3. Using BCC protects you, and your friends against viruses that scan people’s machines looking for email addresses to harvest and attack with malicious code or ‘Phishing‘ attempts.
  4. On some email programs you have to scroll through all the addresses before reaching the message, so using BCC makes messages much easier on your readers.
  5. Because the messages contain less text, there’s less data to send so they will they will download faster and if everyone did it, we’d significantly de-clutter the internet.
  6. Most importantly, using BCC shows your consideration of others by not publishing your friends’ and contact’s email addresses to others and potentially to strangers, spammers, viruses, phishers and even stalkers.

OK, how do you do it?

In most email clients, the BCC field is very apparent and obvious.

  • While in a new message in AOL’s web mail, click BCC.
  • In Gmail and Yahoo Mail!, click add BCC.
  • In Hotmail, click Show Cc & Bcc.
  • In Outlook and Outlook Express, it’s not so obvious but turning it on is a one-time event.
    • To activate the BCC field in Outlook Express, create a new message and choose View, All Headers.
    • To activate the BCC field in MS-Outlook, create a new message and choose View, BCC.
  • Lotus Notes – the BCC field is right there. Nothing to “turn on” –  just use it!

Clean up the message before you send it.

If you have been sent an email that already has a list of list of previous recipient’s email addresses at the top, do yourself and all those earlier and subsequent recipients a huge favour and delete their addresses from the body of the email before you forward it.

Forwarded email messages frequently contain long lists of email addresses that were T0:-d or Cc:-d by previous senders. These addresses are highly likely to be active and valid, so they are very valuable to spammers, phishers and virus spreaders; many email-borne viruses harvest email addresses contained in messages you’ve already received (not just in the To: and From: fields, but from the body of each message, too).  Those long lists of email addresses in forwarded messages are gold to them and pose a risk to you and all the addresses listed, if you (or anyone further down the line) gets infected.

Thanks a lot!

Feel free to pass on this link to people who do the same to you.  Let’s all be net-savvy emailers who understand good Nettiquette!


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