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What do CC and BCC mean in Gmail?

So what do CC and BCC mean in Gmail? When should you use it?

Published onMay 12, 2022

Gmail logo on smartphone stock photo 3
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Email has evolved over the years to include some cool cutting-edge features. But some features have been there since the beginning, especially CC and BCC. You may be wondering what CC and BCC mean in Gmail and when you would use it. We’re here to explain.

Read more: How to create a group email in Gmail


In Gmail, CC means Carbon Copy, and BCC means Blind Carbon Copy. BCC is used when you want to send a copy of an email to another person without the primary email recipient knowing you've done so. You can also use BCC to send an email to multiple people without each recipient knowing the email details of the others.

What do CC and BCC mean in Gmail, and how would you use them?

Back in the Dark Ages, when we were all using typewriters (here’s a Google link for anyone under the age of 30), you would put an extra piece of paper underneath the one you were typing on. That piece of paper was called “carbon paper.” When you typed on the top sheet, an imprint of what you typed would appear on the carbon paper. That would be your carbon copy of the document. Basically, it was an early form of photocopiers or computer printers.

Now that typewriters have gone the way of the dinosaurs, we’re all using email for our communications. The email equivalents of carbon copies are Carbon Copy (CC) and Blind Carbon Copy (BCC), which you see when you start a new email to someone.

gmail bcc field

CC is when you send an email to more than one recipient simultaneously, but all recipients can see that the others have a copy, and they can see one another’s email addresses. You would commonly use this if you’re emailing a work colleague, but you also want to keep your boss in the loop, for example.

But what if confidentiality, privacy, and secrecy are paramount? Then that’s when BCC comes into play. By entering the email addresses into BCC, none of the email’s recipients will know who else has a copy. They also won’t be able to view the email addresses of those people.

As well as emails containing sensitive information, BCC is also ideal for group emails where, for spam reasons, you wouldn’t want to give out everyone’s details.

How to send emails with undisclosed-recipients in Gmail

If you want to send emails with “undisclosed-recipients” in Gmail, you should use the BCC option. This hides the email addresses of other recipients of the email. Not only will recipients in the BCC field be unaware of each other, but recipients in the To and CC fields also won’t know about the BCC recipients either.

This is useful when you want to email multiple people without disclosing their addresses to other recipients. This works well for users who have distribution lists, like teachers emailing student assignments.

Read more: How to recall an email in Gmail

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