Is there anything more amusingly anachronistic in today’s tech world than the “Cc” and “Bcc” fields?
For those of you born after 1980, they stand for “carbon copy” and “blind carbon copy,” respectively. For those of you born after 1990, “carbon copy” refers to the old-fashioned, pre-Xerox method of copying documents. (Millennials: Xerox is a company that was once known for making copiers.)
In modern terms, the Cc field is used to send a copy of an email to one or more contacts (though it’s a bit redundant given that you can just as easily add multiple address to the “To” field).
Bcc also lets you send a copy of the email to one or more contacts — but without any of the other recipients (those addressed in the To and Cc fields) knowing about it. In other words, those folks stay “blind” to the recipient(s) in the Bcc field.
Needless to say, this has its practical applications. But if you’re an Outlook user, you’ve probably discovered the apparent lack of a Bcc field when you compose a new message. This was Microsoft’s attempt to cut down on clutter, but it’s also potentially confusing.
In Outlook 2010, you can unhide the Bcc field as follows:
1. Create a new email message.
2. Click the Options tab.
3. Find the Bcc icon in the Ribbon (it’s in the Show Fields section) and click it.
Presto! This simple toggle turns the Bcc field on and off. And however you set it in this initial email, it’ll stay that way in subsequent emails until you change it.
Got an earlier version of Outlook? Check out Microsoft’s knowledge-base entry on revealing the Bcc box.
There’s another workaround for this. In any version of Outlook, you can click the To or Cc buttons to the left of their respective fields, which you’d normally do to select multiple addresses from your contact list. In that selection window, you’ll see the Bcc field, and you can add addresses to it directly — no need to mess with any settings.
Got an Outlook tip to share? Hit the comments area and let loose your wisdom.