What’s the difference between cc and bcc?

difference between cc and bcc
Mail trail: bcc hides recipients

You’re writing an email to your Aunty Norris (don’t ask). You pop her email address into the To field, but your email software also offers the option for cc and bcc. You have a faint idea that both of these copy people into the email, but what’s the difference between cc and bcc?

The difference between cc and bcc

cc stands for ‘carbon copy’ and is a throwback to the old days of typewriters, where you’d stick a carbon sheet between two sheets of paper to create an exact copy of the letter you were typing.

If you put addresses in the cc field of an email, those people will also receive the email. You can also put more than one address in the To field, of course, and the effect is pretty much the same.

For instance, if someone hits Reply To All on an email with several people in the To or cc fields, everyone will receive the reply.

bcc – or blind carbon copy – is for the sneakier emailers. This will send a copy of the email to anyone in the bcc field, but the recipient won’t know you’ve sent it to anyone in the bcc field.

The bcc is most typically used in business. Say, for example, a supervisor wants to admonish an employee for turning up late, and wants his boss to know they’re punishing the employee too. In that example, they might put the boss’s address in the bcc field. That way the boss can see the supervisor is doing their job without the tardy employee feeling they’ve been snitched to management.

If the employee were to hit Reply to All, those in the bcc field wouldn’t be copied into the reply, as this would give the game away!

Now read this: how do I add a bcc field to Outlook emails?

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.