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How Do I Hide the Email Address I’m Sending Email To?

Spammers do it; why not you?

Sending Email
(Image: canva.com)
It's possible to send email to someone without having their email address show up on the To: or CC: lines by using Blind Carbon Copy, or BCC.

Have you ever gotten a piece of email without being listed as a recipient?

Your email address wasn’t present on either the To: line or the CC: (carbon copy) line, but somehow you got it anyway.

What you didn’t see was what’s called the blind carbon copy line, or BCC:, which allows the sender to specify one or more email addresses to get it without their names appearing on it.

Why “carbon” and what’s this about being blind?

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TL;DR:

Hiding email recipients with BCC

The BCC or Blind Carbon Copy feature of most email interfaces and programs can be used to send an email to someone without their name or email address being exposed. It’s a useful tool in many situations, but it can also be abused. BCC is often somewhat hidden by your email interface, so be sure to look for it in order to use it.

Carbon paper

The term “carbon copy” dates from the pre-photocopy typewriter days, when the way to make a second copy was to insert a sheet of carbon paper between two sheets of typewriter paper. When the typewriter struck an image of a letter on the top sheet, it would also press an image through the carbon paper onto the second page.1

In today’s digital age, the term simply means any copy of a document or email sent to someone besides the primary recipient(s) listed without exposing who else got it.

It’s common courtesy on business correspondence to let the recipient know who else is getting the document by listing them after a CC: somewhere on the document. Email, of course, does this automatically with the CC: field into which you enter email addresses. Everyone who gets the email can see who was CC’ed.

Blind Carbon Copy, or BCC, simply means that someone else gets a copy of an email without being shown as a recipient. No one receiving the email can tell who, if anyone, was BCC’ed.

Finding and using BCC

Here’s the rub: how you access the blind carbon copy function depends on your email client or interface.

In Outlook.com and Gmail.com, it’s in the upper right of the compose window.

BCC in Gmail
BCC in Gmail. Click for larger image. (Screenshot: askleo.com)

 

BCC in Outlook.com
BCC in Outlook.com. Click for larger image. (Screenshot: askleo.com)

In Microsoft Office’s Outlook desktop email program,2 there is a BCC: field that’s not visible by default. When you compose a message, hit the Options menu, and then the ellipsis at the far right of the menu, and under “Show Fields” you should find an item labeled BCC: field, which will turn it on.

BCC in Microsoft Office Outlook
BCC field in Microsoft Office Outlook. Click for larger image. (Screenshot: askleo.com)

In Thunderbird, while composing a message you’ll find it on the View menu.

BCC in Thunderbird
BCC in Thunderbird. (Screenshot: askleo.com)

If you use another email interface or program, check the online help or support options to find the BCC setting.

Do this

BCC: can be a courtesy if used correctly. If you’re sending email to many people, you can reduce the size of the message and the To: or CC: headers that people might have to wade through by BCC’ing your message to them. It’s also an appropriate way to respect the privacy of those you want to get your message because it doesn’t expose their email addresses to all who receive the message.

It can also be rude to BCC: what someone might think is a personal message to others, as the primary recipient will not know that the people BCC’ed are privy to that information.

Use BCC responsibly.

Footnotes & References

1: With a powerful enough keystroke or electric typewriter, we could create multiple pages this way, all stacked on top of one another with carbon paper between each. Legibility suffered, sometimes greatly, as more copies were attempted.

2: Outlook.com and Outlook the desktop email program are completely unrelated, but they do share one trait in common: they change frequently. If you don’t find your situation matches what’s shown here, keep looking. It’s in there somewhere.

40 comments on “How Do I Hide the Email Address I’m Sending Email To?”

  1. Hi,

    There is another option to hide your email address and protect it from email bots.

    We have developed a software product which is a perfect automated solution to hide the email you publish on the site from email harvesting bots.

    Visit http://linkdisguiser.com and try our free product. We would appreciate your feedback positive or negative.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  2. You probably already know this, but what should a
    person do to send a BCC if their e-mail doesn’t
    show BCC in the TO field? ANSWER: Usually your
    e-mail will have a CC blank. In this space, list
    the outgoing e-mails with a parenthesis “(”
    before the first and a “)” after the last e-mail.
    I learned this when I had an account with JUNO.
    Their outgoing mail has no BCC.

    ALSO, when attempting to send e-mail to
    UNDISCLOSED-RECIPIENTS, many e-mails REQUIRE a
    domain. Thusly, you must address the e-mail to
    UNDISCLOSED-RECIPIENTS@yahoo.com, or the domain
    you are e-mailing from. Naturally, you’ll get a
    ‘unknown’ e-mail back saying it couldn’t be
    delivered. However, all of the ‘OTHER’ e-mails
    will be delivered.

    Keep others from knowing who SENT the e-mail?
    Try:
    http://www.anonymizer.com/
    http://eng.mafiamail.ru/
    http://www.usmessage.net/index.html?1017

    Reply
  3. The solution to a personalized message without a long Cc list is to use a mail merge program like PC iMail (http://www.prosoftapps.com/pcimail). It will let you add mail merge fields such as “Dear [FirstName]” and will insert each recipient’s name in the message, and it will also send the message individually to each recipient for a personalized touch.

    The other issue these days is the limitations many ISPs place on the number of messages that can be sent in a given time period. My ISP limits me to 25 messages per minute, and so PC iMail’s time delay feature helps out by letting me specify the number of messages that will be sent for a given time interval (e.g. Send 20 messages every 60 seconds).

    Reply
  4. You may want to try akapost (www.akapost.com)

    akapost is a simple and easy way to protect your email identity from being exposed on the Internet.

    Reply
  5. Hello,
    there is a webpage, http://www.emailhide.org, that encrypts your email address in a secure manner. All you nedd to do is type in your email address and is returned html code with a link with your encrypted email. I’ve tried and now i use it everytime. There’s also a automatic gen for webmasters. Check it out.

    While interesting, that has nothing at all to do with what this article is about.

    – Leo
    05-Feb-2009
    Reply
  6. If i need to send out a message to a lot of people, but i want them to only see their own name on the email, as if i personally sent it to just them and not 25 other people as well, how would i do this in Microsoft Outlook?

    The only way to do that is to send 25 individual emails. You can do that yourself, or you can use a mailing service like aweber.com.

    – Leo
    28-May-2009
    Reply
  7. I have gmail and I’ve tried everything in the book to prevent my mail recipients to see other’s addresses, but it won’t work. I use the BCC feature but the addresses still show. I know this because I tried sending a message to multiple recipients, where I put one of my other mails in the TO box and the rest in the BCC box. That’s when I found that the addresses were displayed.
    Thank you very much for your help.

    If you’re looking in your own sent mail, then they may still be there, since you’re allowed to see what you sent. You need to check the actual email received by one of the people getting the email in their account. I’ll bet the BCC line is not visible there.

    – Leo
    01-Jul-2009

    Reply
  8. this article describes how to hide email ids of recipients from other recipients. i was wondering if there is a way to have the individual recipient’s id alone in the ‘to’ space for every recipient, without other ids being visible to him/her.

    Only by sending individual messages. Mailling list software can do that. “Mailman” is popular for do-it-yourselfers (somewhat geeky) and aweber.com is the service I use.

    Leo
    22-Dec-2009

    Reply
  9. You can do a mail merge with Outlook 2003 and 2007, under Tools, that sends the same message to a group of people and doesn’t reveal the other recipients. You can even address each recipient by name in the body of the message. However, I have Outlook 2002 so I have to start the merge in Word, using a folder within my Outlook contacts as a souce of e-mail addresses. Instructions are at http://www.howto-outlook.com/howto/mailmerge.htm.

    Reply
  10. There are several other situations when it’s right to use BCC. If you’re sending something to a rather miscellaneous bunch of people who don’t necessarily know each other or have any connection except via yourself, you protect each recipient’s privacy. You prevent the use of indiscriminate reply-to-all that could be embarrassing to you or others (Reply-to-all does not extend to BCCs of the initial message). And you prevent your recipients’ addresses being re-used or sold for commercial purposes.

    Reply
  11. When sending email in Outlook 2007, I do not want the recipients email address to show but I do want the recipients to know who all received the email. How do I do that?

    Reply
  12. Leo,

    Just a minor point. When I took typing in the mid 50’s, CC: was also called Courtesy Copy. That was because we often had to send copies to more than just one person.

    Reply
  13. Is there even a way one can hide peoples email addresses marked in CC from each other after the mail has already been sent? For E.g : I have sent a mail to say 20 other recipients and accidentally rather that putting them in BCC I have put it in CC. How can I now hide their email addresses from each other?

    Reply
  14. I want to sent e mail to two different people and want to hide cc mail from the primary recipient whereas to display the primary recipient’s e mail address to the person to whom cc mail is sent

    Reply
  15. how i can send particular email to say 2000 email recipient.
    is there any software that enables me to do so.??

    Reply
  16. hello sir,
    i want to know how to hide the attachments to the receiver.the receiver don,t see the attachments.please tell me sir

    Reply
  17. I want to send an email to a relatively large (270) list of people who have previously received an email on the same topic. Their addresses were all listed in the CC line in my Gmail. I want to send this message to them privately without re-exposing their emails if they are protective.
    How do I convert a list of cc’s to bcc’s for this purpose using gmail? Thanks!

    Thanks!

    Reply
  18. So I used the Bcc feature in Yahoo Mail, but separated the addresses with semi colons instead of commas, will all of the recipients received the mail?

    Reply
  19. how can i be able to hide a mail address that i want the response of the mail i sent to go to?
    in other words how can i hide a REPLY-TO email in a message.

    Reply
  20. In order to prevent BCC addresses to be exposed to Spammers, using BCC is the way that was available in Yahoo. After listing addresses in BCC there was the word HIDE that that was clicked to hide the BCC addresses, that word hide is no longer present, so how do I Hide the addresses now.

    Reply

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