More on Etiquette and E-mail

In what came as a surprise to me, my recent Mac 911 entry, Etiquette and the Bcc Field, generated more supportive feedback than I've seen in years. And not so much because the advice I provided was news to most readers--that advice being, don't dump a bunch of email addresses in the To field because it's rude and violates privacy--but rather because so many people are frustrated that the less-savvy email users among us do employ the To field and Reply All button unwisely.

It appears that in addition to validating the views of some readers, this entry has offered the additional benefit of providing a way to alert friends, family, and coworkers to the dangers of their email habits. Those who are annoyed by this kind of behavior have discovered that sending a link to this article and then ducking has been helpful to some.

As it is, it seems only right to enhance that advice with a few additional email tips in the hope that they too will be passed along.

Where is the Bcc field?

A couple of readers interested in employing the Bcc field couldn't find it. Here's where to look:

Yahoo Mail. When creating a new message, look to the right of the To field. You'll see a Show BCC link. Click it and the BCC field appears.

Gmail. Under the To field in a new message is an Add Bcc link. Click it and there's your Bcc field.

MobileMe. Choose Preferences from the Tools menu, click the Composing tab, enable the Show Bcc field option, and click Save. All new messages you create will include a Bcc field from now on.

AOL. Click that Bcc link next to the To field in a new email message.

Outlook. In the latest version of Outlook open a new message and click the Message Options tab. In that tab you'll see the option to Show Bcc.

Mail (Jaguar and Panther). The versions of Mail that shipped with Jaguar and Panther lets you use Bcc but the field isn't obvious. To display the field in Jaguar's Mail, open a new message and choose Add Bcc Header from the Edit menu. In Panther's Mail, choose Bcc Header from the View menu.

The foibles of forwards

Reader George Carlson offers some solid advice about forwarding messages:

If one is going to pass along something they think is worthwhile to their recipients, they should add the small effort to clean up both the TO/BCC list and the body of the email.

Excellent advice, and for a couple of reasons. The first is that when a message is forwarded, header information that contains email addresses is often planted in the body of the message. You may have done your duty by putting addresses into the Bcc field but you haven't completely done your job if you haven't also removed addresses from the body of the message.

Secondly, when a message has been forwarded a few times, the good stuff often gets shoved to the bottom. No one really wants to read line after line of "Hey, check this out!" Feel free to edit out the cruft.

Break the chain

Speaking of forwarding, there are situations where it's best to not forward a message. For example, any chain letter, that list of top 10 cat jokes, the political or religious screed you pulled off the Web, and the link to the YouTube video of the toddler stuck in a sousaphone. Hard as it may be to hear, most people who receive these things are too polite to tell you to cut it out.

I'm not.

Cut it out.

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