To, CC and BCC Explained

I'm still a little amazed at how many people don't fully understand how the TO, CC and BCC fields work in Mail. The TO, CC and BCC fields can have a huge impact on how you communicate with others. We all know that the spoken (and written word) is only part of what makes good communication. Other factors include posture, eye contact, tone and even suggestive information like who an email was sent TO versus copied on.

This post is my effort to not only help you understand the difference between them, but how to use them appropriately.

Before we begin, let's review the following picture:

Next, let's define what each of the fields are:

TO: this is where you will list people who are directly affected by the email

CC (Carbon Copy): this is where you will list people who aren't directly affected, but should be included as an FYI (courtesy)

BCC (Blind Carbon Copy): this is where you list people who also need to be included, but in a silent/hidden manner

Now, let me explain how to use them. The following email will be received by three people:

Brad will see that the email was sent from me to him. He will also see that Maggie received a copy. He will NOT see that John received a copy. If Brad replies to all, it will be sent to myself, and Maggie will receive a copy (being listed in the CC field). John will not receive a copy.

Maggie will see that the email was sent from me to Brad primarily, and that she was copied on the email thread. She will NOT see that John received a copy. If Maggie replies to all, it will be sent to myself, and Brad will receive a copy (being listed in the CC field).

John will see that the email was sent from me to Brad primarily, and that Maggie also received a copy. If John replies to all, it will be sent to myself, Brad and Maggie (in the CC field). If John replies to all, it will defeat the purpose of him being in the BCC field in the first place because Brad and Maggie will now know that he received a copy of the original email.

Kevin's rule of thumb: if you expect a person to respond or take action to your email, include them in the TO field. If they are just being updated on something as a passive participant, include them in the CC field. If you are sending mass email, place ALL recipients in the BCC field (for privacy reasons). This will ensure that no one can see anyone else's email address.

Posted on October 15, 2014 and filed under How To, Mac, Opinion.