BCC 101 (Please Read)

I just got an email from Ray. No, that's not his real name because if I used his real name he would hassle me. I don't want to deal with that right now because it is my turn to hassle.

Ray, email genius, just fired off an email to about a hundred million people in his email address book announcing that he got a new job and, therefore, a new email address. "Good for you, pal. My congratulations."

No big deal, right? Wait -what freaked me out was that Ray, email genius, put his entire address book in the "To" field of his email message. Brilliant -here's why:

See, Ray and I have common "friends" that I have prevented from knowing my email address for juicy reasons that won't fit into this short article. And Ray knows it. He also knows that maintaining the privacy of my e-identity has required the skill and deftness of a true cyber-ninja. I've succeeded for years. Now, I discover that Ray, email genius, has published my email address to everyone from whom I don't want to get a million cheesy, seen-already, "Forwards," or even contact via email.

I stared at my beautiful, previously-secret email address now plastered right in the middle of Ray's Who's-Who of a "To" box. My hand fumbled around my desk, feeling for my phone so I could thank Ray for the generous publicity and then teach him about BCC.

BCC stands for Blind Carbon Copy. Email programs have a BCC feature to allow us to send messages to multiple recipients while hiding their email addresses from one another. When Ray put the email addresses in the To and CC fields, they became visible to every recipient of the message. BCC would have kept my address hidden.

I realize the BCC field's function isn't familiar to some people, so they don't use it. But education has empowered us (Ray!). Use of BCC maintains privacy and shows consideration for email etiquette.

The BCC field is not always visible by default when composing a new message so you may have to hunt for it. For example, in MS Outlook, the BCC field can be activated by opening new message and then clicking View > BCC field. If you don't see BCC as an option when composing a message in other email programs, check the program's "Help" menu for assistance.

It couldn't have been a day after Ray's "publication" before I began getting non-funny forwarded email messages and greetings from mutual friends in Ray's address book. My favorite greetings are, "I've been looking everywhere for your address," and "So this is where you've been hiding!"

I now forward each and every one of these messages to my friend Ray, email genius.

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