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What’s the difference between CC and BCC in email?

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  • 3 min read

Emails have to an extent replaced traditional mailed letters, as far as text-based mails go, and have added more value to the system as well. In addition to the primary recipient of an email, senders also have an option to send a copy of the email to others via Carbon Copy (CC) or Blind Carbon Copy (BCC) fields that are available on all email services.

We use the CC field when we want a secondary party to receive the same email as the primary recipient while letting the primary recipient know that a copy of the email has been sent to someone else as well.

We use the BCC field when we want a third-party to keep a record of the email, without the knowledge of the primary recipients or the CC recipients. So, the primary recipient or secondary (CC) recipients of the email don’t know about the BCC recipients and whether they received a copy.

If this seems too complicated to comprehend, here’s a simple real-life use case to explain why you might need to use CC or BCC in your next email.

Also read: What is Email Spoofing? 9 ways to protect yourself

Why would you need to use CC or BCC in your emails?

CC vs BCC in emails: What's the difference? Which is used when?Let’s say you’re an employee working on a project and you have to send an assessment to your team leader, so you add them as a primary recipient. Your project manager wants a copy of the email as well, so you add them to the CC recipient list. Now when you send the email, both your team leader (primary recipient) as well as your project manager (the secondary ‘CC’ recipient) will know that both received a copy of the same email.

This example illustrates that a recipient of the CC field has a record of what was sent to the primary recipient (in the To: field) and that the primary recipient can view the recipients in the CC section.

On the other hand, assume you’re the team leader working on a project, and you wish to send assignments to your team members with their deadlines. If you were to add your project manager as a BCC recipient, they’d be aware of the work assigned to the team members, but the team would have no knowledge of the project manager receiving a copy of the same email sent to them.

This example illustrates that a recipient in the BCC field receives a carbon copy of the email received by the primary and CC field recipients. The only difference is that neither the primary or CC field recipients can view recipients of the BCC field.

To summarise, the CC field recipients are the front-row audience to your composed email sent to the primary recipient. The BCC field recipients are the unnoticed observers, who have access to a carbon copy of the composed email, with no other recipients are aware of their access to the email.

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Prathik Jayaprakash

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