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Blind copying e-mail

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Blind copying e-mail

Postby Josh Gibbs » Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:23 pm

The term 'Blind copies' in e-mail refers to messages that do not contain addressing information for anyone but the person that receives the message, regardless of the number of recipients that the message was delivered to.

You'll usually see this in your mail client as BCC which is an acronym for 'Blind Carbon Copy', referring to carbon paper duplicates.

Blind copies are of course most useful when sending to more than one recipient when you don't want each of the recipients to know who else a message was sent to. The two main uses of this method are a) to blind copy (BC) another person (or persons) with a message so that the primary recipient is unaware of the secondary copies being delivered and b) to deliver to a list of recipients as part of a mail out.

Blind copying other recipients is simply a matter of adding e-mail addresses to the list and changing the send method to 'BCC'. You usually see 'To' beside the addresses you are sending to and can click and change that to different addressing types.

It's a good idea to test your e-mail software for compatibility with this feature before going ahead and assuming it's doing what you think it is, as some mail clients, particularly older ones, may include all addressing details without you knowing. To test it out, simply send a message to two people you know with both recipients set as a BC, then check if one of them can see the other addressee in the message. You can also address the message to yourself, however some systems will copy the message internally via a different method and the results might not be accurate.

The second major use of BC is for lists and this can be very useful for a couple of reasons. First, it doesn't expose all of the recipients to everyone else (if that's important), and second, in big lists, the recipients don't get a wall of addresses at the top of their message.

Lists can be set up on your e-mail client or your mail server. Setting up at the client will only allow you to use the list. Setting up the server provides the list address for all senders and can be convenient with lists that change membership.

When using lists in your client software you simply prepare an e-mail as usual and address it to the list, but be sure to choose 'BC' as the method (instead of 'To' or 'Cc'). By sending in this manner, the recipients should all receive the message with something like 'undisclosed-recipients' as the single 'to' entry in the e-mail.

With iMail5, lists can be setup on the server with the 'Distribution List' feature. Once configured, provide the distribution list address to the people that need to use it and they can now send to the list address. With the server side processing of iMail5, the list always sends a BC copy of the message so it doesn't matter what addressing method is selected.
Josh Gibbs
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