CC vs. BCC in email: Meanings and how to use them correctly

Cc and bcc can both be used to send copies of an email to additional recipients. But have you sometimes wondered what the letters stand for? Or have you steered clear of both because you aren’t quite sure about the difference between cc and bcc? We explain when to use cc vs bcc, how to find bcc in Outlook and your account – and the original meaning of cc.
by Alyssa Schmitt
Hands typing on computer keyboard with email icons floating in air
Sending an email to multiple recipients? Make good use of cc & bcc

What does CC mean in email?

CC stands for “Carbon copy”. When you put email address(es) in the Cc field, you send a copy of the email to those recipient(s) for their information only, indicating that no reply is required or expected. Those email addresses are also visible to the main recipient (whose address is in the “To” field) and they can decide whether to reply to the sender only (by choosing “Reply”) or to also include the cc’ed addresses (by clicking “Reply all”).

What does BCC mean in email?

BCC stands for “Blind carbon copy”. The recipients you add in the Bcc field are invisible to all other recipients (under To or Cc). Bcc is useful if you prefer to keep recipient email addresses private. It also means that the bcc'ed recipients will not receive any reply emails from the other recipients, even if they select “Reply all”.
The difference between cc and bcc is that both are used for sending an email to additional recipients, but only you as the sender can see all the names listed under Bcc.

Origin of CC and BCC abbreviations

In the golden age of typewriters, before we had copy machines and computers, the only way to have an identical copy of the document you typed was to make a “carbon copy” – you placed a sheet of carbon paper under the page you were typing, which in turn left an imprint of what was typed on a blank page underneath it. As a courtesy to the primary recipient, a typist would write “CC to: Name” at the end of the letter. In the computer era, the meaning of “cc” in email became a sort of “FYI.” And the term “blind carbon copy,” “blind cc,” or “bcc” was coined to indicate an email sent to recipients who were not disclosed, meaning the other recipients were “blind” to their existence.


If you still have questions about the finer points using cc and bcc in your emails, keep reading our FAQs to get the full scoop – including where to find cc and bcc in your email and how to use bcc in Outlook.

When should I use BCC in email?

Bcc means no one else can see that you are sending a copy to that recipient, which also means their email address stays private. So, the Bcc function can be very useful if you are sending out an announcement to all the members of your club and need to protect the data privacy of the recipients by not displaying their email addresses to others. Or if you are inviting both friends and coworkers to a party and you don’t want to share people’s work email addresses with everyone.

Another advantage here is that bcc recipients don’t receive copies of replies to your original email – so even if one of your bcc’d party guests accidently hits “Reply all” to tell you “Love to come!”, their message won’t clutter up the inboxes of all 100 people on your invite list!

Is it okay to BCC your boss?

It is actually considered bad form to bcc your boss on a message to a coworker – if you are getting people higher up in your company’s chain of command involved, you should be transparent and add them under Cc. However, if you need your boss to be aware of an external email you are sending, e.g. to a client, but don’t want to share your boss’ email address with that client, you could use bcc.

When should you CC someone?

Think of cc as an FYI – the point is to make sure that the cc’ed recipient is aware of the information in the email even though no response is required from them. Basically, cc is a way of saying “I’m just keeping you in the loop about this.”

Is it rude to CC someone in an email?

It is not rude to cc someone as long as the email actually contains information that will be useful to them. But you shouldn’t use cc to bombard your contacts with irrelevant information.

What is the difference between CC and BCC recipients?

When you enter a recipient’s email address into the Cc field, it is visible to you and all other recipients. When you enter a recipient’s address into the Bcc field, it is only visible to you and to that recipient, not to any other recipient.

What will happen if you BCC a person?

If you enter an email address into the Bcc field, that recipient will receive your message just like anyone you’ve entered in the “To” or “Cc” field. The only difference is that no other recipients will see the Bcc address.

What if I want to send an email with only BCC? Can I just BCC everyone?

In most email programs, you can enter only bcc recipients and send your email regularly. However, in some applications you may need to have at least one email address in the “To” field before your email can be sent to recipients in the Bcc field.  In such a case, a workaround could be to enter your own email address in the “To” line and bcc everyone else – you will simply receive a copy of the email in your inbox.

What is the disadvantage of BCC in email?

Sending a recipient a bcc email can show a lack of transparency – if you are using bcc for a reason besides keeping addresses private in a mass mailing, think long and hard about whether it is appropriate. After all, you might be leading your recipient to think they are the only one receiving your email when in fact they are not. If you decide to go ahead and use bcc, you should be aware of one danger – the person who you bcc’d can hit “Reply all” and everyone on your original To and Cc recipient lists will receive their reply and know that they saw your message.

Is CC better than BCC in email?

Cc or bcc is not inherently better or worse – they simply serve different purposes. Cc is best for keeping people in the loop on an ongoing thread while providing transparency about who is being informed. Bcc is best for keeping addresses private on mail lists.

Why would you BCC yourself in an email?

Adding yourself as a bcc recipient means that the message in question will be delivered to your inbox. Some people like doing this as a reminder to follow up or for other to-dos they might have in the email.

Who sees the BCC in email?

Only the person who you have bcc’d knows that they have received the message – their address will not appear to any other recipients. Furthermore, a bcc recipient does not see the names or addresses of any other bcc recipients. Even if a bcc recipient uses the “Reply all” function, the other bcc recipients will not receive their reply – only the original To and Cc recipients.

Pro tip: What does #cc mean on TikTok?

Closed captions. These are text transcriptions of the audio in TikTok videos, included so that people with hearing impairments can still enjoy the content. You will find closed captions on many other online platforms, e.g., YouTube, and posters often call attention to their availability by including the #cc hashtag in the description.

You may see other uses of #cc on TikTok and other social media. For example, in the context of photo and video editing CC can stand for “color correction,” “color change” or “custom colors” – so proud editors may use #cc to call attention to their techniques. CC can also be an abbreviation for “custom content” or “content creator”. The list could go on and on, but as you can see, the “CC” abbreviation has many other uses beyond your email inbox!

How do I send CC and BCC emails in my account?

Now that you know what bcc means in email, let’s look at where to find cc & bcc in your email:

  • In your email inbox, click Compose E-mail.
  • This opens up a window where you can write a new message.
  • On the right side under Send, click the button marked Cc/Bcc.
Screenshot of "Cc/Bcc" option in email
Click "Cc/Bcc" to open the fields
  • This will cause “Cc” and “Bcc” fields to appear underneath the “To” field.
  • Either type the email address of the desired recipients directly into this field, or click the address book icon to the left of the letters to select recipients from your Contacts:
Screenshot showing fields to enter email recipient(s)
Enter your recipient(s) in the desired field(s)

How to use BCC in Outlook

Some people think there is no Bcc function in Outlook, but in fact both cc and bcc are available in this email program:
  1.  Click New Email. This will open a window for composing your email, but it will not contain a Bcc field- at first.
  2. However, if you click on To or Cc, a window opens that allows you to add recipients. Here you will find Bcc as an option in addition to To and Cc.
  3. Add the desired recipients to the Bcc field and press OK.
  4. A Bcc field will now appear at the top of your message along with the other recipient fields.
We hope this cleared up your questions about bcc and cc in email! If so, please give us a thumbs up below. And if you still don't have a account, you can create your free email address here.

This article first appeared on April 19, 2021 and was updated on June 6, 2024.
Images: 1&1/Shutterstock

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