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Tech Tip: Use BCC to Enhance Privacy and Reduce Inbox Clutter

As a childcare center administrator, you probably face an email tsunami – a deluge of important, must-respond emails from parents, teachers, and staff, not to mention spam offers of cheap medicines. You also send email to update families, fund-raise, and even update prospective parents on the waiting list.

Sometimes, as in Gmail, you have to click a button to make the BCC field appear

One simple, free way to cut-down on email clutter for everyone is to use the BCC field when sending out emails to large groups. BCC stands for “blind carbon copy” or sometimes also “blind courtesy copy”. It has a few important benefits:

  1. Privacy – People on the BCC list will not see the other people on the BCC list of addresses. This can keep you out of an awkward situation when, for example, your childcare center adds the new 2nd husband of a parent to the distribution list of your daily center update.
  2. No more reply all disasters – Replies by people on the BCC list will only be sent to the original sender and the people on the CC list. For example, say you send out an email outlining your revised food allergy policy. Then, one of the parents replies-to-all asking if “‘No nuts’ includes peanut butter? Afterall, peanuts are really legumes.” Next another parent, being oh so helpful says, “Of course, what are you some sort of nutcase?” etc. etc. With BCC that response will go only to you, and spare the other 650 people on your list of the “no duh!” emails.
  3. Prevent viruses and spam – Since you are limiting who gets your valuable family data (i.e., names and emails), you are preventing the spread of viruses and spam. For example, viruses will often spread themselves as email attachments through an infected computer’s email program. By hiding other addressees by using the BCC field, the virus will not know that those families are even out there.
  4. Get read and save paper – Some older email programs, will show the entire distribution list before you even get to the message. Using the BCC will shorten that list to one person, the person receiving it and no one else. To boot, a lot of people (you know who you are) will print out email. By using BCC, your receiver will not have two pages of addresses before they even get to your message.

To use the BCC effectively:

  • Put your name or your generic contact email as the “To” addressee. This is necessary because some email programs will not let you send without at least one non-BCC address
  • Activate the BCC field. For some programs like the latest versions of Microsoft Outlook, the BCC field is always available. Consult your help files or your local technology administrator for more spefics

It's good practice to use your address in the "To:" box and put all of the other members of the list in the "Bcc:" box

  • Put your recipient’s addresses in the distribution list in the BCC field as you would normally in the “TO:”
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Jeff is the Director of Marketing and Co-founder of BumbleBee Childcare Software. He lives in Cambridge, MA, in the United States. You can hear more from Jeff on Twitter and Google +.
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