This post is also going to send a wave of paranoia over some folks. It’s not meant to. I’m not necessarily talking about you. If you’re guilty of anything I write about, it doesn’t make you a bad person or someone I dislike. In fact, I have been guilty of some of these crimes as well.

Let me begin by saying that what is written on my “About Page” is true; I enjoy receiving email. I really do. I don’t want people to read this and say, “No, it’s best not to email Michele. She will get mad.” That’s not true. Please don’t ever assume that I don’t want to hear from you. Most of the time an email from a complete stranger makes my day. But there should be a few ground rules regarding the whole “Group Email” phenomenon (and if this post does not do the trick, I’m going to send out a mass email to everyone in my address book).


OK, let me begin by saying that I’m not sure why you would want to do that. I’m assuming that all of your acquaintances don’t share the same likes and dislikes. For example, some people like hearing about your cat. I happen to be one of those people. But I can’t imagine that everyone in your address book cares about your cat. And some folks don’t like kids at all. It’s true. I used to be one of those people. I used to get emails from people that held about 3 megabytes worth of photographs of their kids covered in what I hope was chocolate icing. Granted, things have changed a little bit. I have baby fever now, so I probably wouldn’t mind if you were to send me pictures of your kid(s).

As a rule, it’s best to rethink the whole “SEND EMAIL TO MY ENTIRE ADDRESS BOOK” idea. Because I guarantee that your action will annoy someone.

RULE NUMBER 1: Be choosy! Make those you email feel special.


So you’ve decided screw it, you know that 65 people want to hear that you updated your Flickr page. And you’re going to send them all an email stating as much.

I did this once. I sent an email to almost everyone I had ever emailed stating that I was going to try and run the 2006 ING Marathon. (If you were on that list, I do apologize.) Well, obviously that didn’t happen and sadly people actually donated money in my name, which I am eternally grateful for. But how annoying was it for me to assume that everyone in my address book wanted to read about my upcoming marathon? And to think I took it a step further and asked them for money. Who did I think I was? I got some funny responses for that one. Here’s one:

“And well for the life of me I cannot think of why you would want to run a marathon, but best of luck.”

So, your group email is loaded, cocked, and ready to go. You’re excited. This is going to be your big break! BUT WAIT! Before you send that puppy, go to the section that reads “To:” or “Cc:” in the email header. Most likely, this is where you currently have all of your recipients. (See Figure 1.)

Now, SELECT ALL (Mac: Command A; PC: Control A). Once you’ve done that, delete every single email from your “To:” or “Cc:” field. Go to the section in the email header called “Bcc:”. Paste every single email into that field (Mac: Command V; PC: Control V). Voila! You now have all of your recipients in the field that stands for “Blind Carbon Copy”. (See Figure 2.)

But hold on! You’re not quite done.

If you were to try and send the email shown above, it wouldn’t have any idea where to go because it doesn’t recognize anything on the BCC list. But don’t freak out, that’s the idea! You have to tell it to go somewhere. What I usually I do is put my name in the “To:” field. This way, the email will appear to have been sent to only me and all responses will come to me. In all actuality the email is going to a bunch of people who can’t see one another. (See Figure 3.)

RULE NUMBER 2: Be intriguing! Let them guess who else might be on that undisclosed recipient list.

Thankfully, with the whole marathon debacle, I used BCC. That was the only thing that saved me a little face.


I can’t speak for everyone, but I think I speak for many when I say no one cares. The reason why using BCC is so important is that when your Aunt Mabel hits “REPLY ALL” (which she’ll inevitably do because I haven’t written up a rule for that yet), every single person you didn’t BCC will get an email from Aunt Mabel. This might get even worse; she might add MORE people to HER list, which really, really sucks because then more people are going to receive a bunch of emails featuring insider Aunt Mabel jokes—pictures of butterflies, Jesus, and her cankles.

Remember that HIV infection pyramid they scared you with in college? It’s sort of like that only without all the devastation and sex. (See Figure 4.)

In the end, you’ll be considered much more popular if you DO NOT do this to the people in your address book.

RULE NUMBER 3: Be safe! Play hard to get.

But sometimes mistakes happen, emails get out, people receive them.


If the above scenario didn’t convince you of the dangers behind “REPLY ALL”, this might. “REPLY ALL” can be humiliating, too. One time I got an email from my friend, Ben, announcing his engagement. He did not use the BCC option, which is fine. I should have paid better attention. I stupidly hit “REPLY ALL” and wrote the following:

“This is so awesome. She is freaking adorable and you are a stud. I can’t wait until you’re no longer living in sin and can make really super hot babies.”

What I failed to realize was that Ben had included his entire extended family as well as his fiancé’s. I looked like a total loser. I felt ashamed and haven’t finished apologizing for it. That was nearly two years ago.

And this wasn’t the only time I made this mistake. One time I wrote something at work that should NOT have been sent to everyone on the list. I won’t go into details. Let’s just say it was not one of my most professional moments.

RULE NUMBER 4: Be discreet! You’re probably not that funny anyway.

Lastly, if you’re one of those people who doesn’t BCC, is too lazy to copy a link, write a blurb, and sign the damned thing, and instead forwards something previously sent to you onto everyone in your address book, then this little tutorial will not help you. And after you’re done reading it, lose my email.

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