Email Tip: Blind CC

If your company is using Microsoft Office 365 with Outlook and Skype for Business, chances are you’ve noticed your co-workers’ online status depicted with a small colored square next to their name when it appears in the To: line of an Outlook email that you’ve received or that you’re in the midst of composing. No doubt you’ve been the recipient of an email that has 50 other recipients, and when you open it, or preview it in the reading pane, you see a twinkling landscape of coworker statuses as they become known and as they evolve.

This colorful horse blanket of up-to-the-second notifications is pure artistry to some, but personally, I’m much happier not knowing that you’ve been away, busy, or that you’re available. At least, not until I specifically request this accounting of your existence. I’m pretty sure the network would be a lot happier, too, if its copper and fiber appendages were put to better use carrying important stuff like actual email content and attachments instead of ongoing and often-ignored communication in the form of trillions of tiny red, yellow, green, and gray squares sometimes punctuated with an asterisk, arrow, or other nebulous condition indicator.

The Skype for Business status square is the newest reason why, if you plan to send an email to a bunch of people, you should use the Blind Carbon Copy field. Also known as the “Blind CC:” or “BCC” field, this box sits near the top of your email, and you put email addresses in this field. The difference between the BCC field and the To: or CC fields is after you send the email, the only email addresses your recipients see is their own address in the To: field, and your address in the From: field.

What are some other reasons to use the Blind CC: field?

  1. The absolute most important reason: it prevents your recipients from accidentally clicking “Reply All” and sending a reply to everyone you sent the email to.
  2. There are times when you don’t want everyone to see who the email was sent to. Example: let’s pretend you’re a CEO and 25 managers are behind on their expense reports. You observe the “Praise in Public, Punish in Private” rule, but you’re also lazy and don’t want to send the same disciplinary email 25 separate times. Instead, you can put all 25 email addresses in the Blind CC: field and click Send one time. All 25 managers get their just desserts, but nobody can see who the other 24 Sünderin are.
  3. Putting your large, internal recipient lists in the BCC field prevents a ne’er-do-well from stealing a bunch of addresses off your email header and using them to do ne’er-well. Grabbing a bunch of addresses off a wayward email’s To: or CC: line is a quick way for King Zoobledooble in Morgeria to build his mailing list of potential marks that might be interested in helping him cash his million dollar check.