How to keep your recipients’ e-mail addresses hidden

Question: I have noticed in some of my received e-mail items, that the list of people the e-mail is distributed to shows: “undisclosed recipients” instead of the complete list of addresses it was sent to. I too would like to be able to do this, but don’t know how. Can you help? –L.C.T.

Answer: This trick is a good idea because, when you are sending e-mail to lots of people, most appreciate that you don’t broadcast their addresses to all the other recipients.

When e-mail gets forwarded over and over again — as in the case of jokes, bulletins, etc. — you never know where those e-mail addresses are going to land. Some less-than-honorable people will scoop up every e-mail address on every e-mail so they can send unsolicited e-mails to the list.

Hiding your recipients’ e-mail addresses from the Internet is common courtesy and good net etiquette. Here’s how to do that.

  1. In your e-mail program, go into your address book and create an entry called Undisclosed Recipients. Assign your own e-mail address to the entry.
  2. Then create a new e-mail and, in the To: field, type undisclosed recipients. Your e-mail program will pull the entry from the e-mail address book and address the message back to you. This is like sending the e-mail to yourself.
  3. Then use the Bcc field to enter all the other e-mail addresses you want to send the e-mail to. Bcc stands for “blind carbon copy”. Addresses in the Bcc field will receive a copy of the e-mail message, but anyone who receives the e-mail will not see who else received it. That information is not included in the header (the technical addressing information) of the e-mail message.

It may be tricky to find the Bcc field in some e-mail programs.

  • In Outlook Express, create a new mail and click the View menu and then select All Headers.
  • In Netscape Messenger, create a new message. Enter the To: address. Click the blank line below that. Another To will appear below the first. Click it and a menu will drop down. Click Bcc:. Then enter your Bcc e-mail addresses to the right of it.
  • In Outlook 2000, create a new e-mail message. Click View, then click the Bcc: item in the menu to display that field.
  • In Outlook 2002, create a new e-mail. Click the To: field next to the address field. A gray box will open up. Select your Bcc recipients and click the Bcc button to the right.