How to Send an Email to Undisclosed Recipients From Gmail

Protect your recipients' privacy with this trick.

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When you put multiple addresses in the To line of an email sent from Gmail, every recipient sees not only your message content but also the other email addresses to which you send your message. This can be problematic because most people prefer not to have their email addresses shared widely. If you move the addresses to the Cc field, the effect is the same; they just appear on a different line.

Use the Bcc field, though, and you become an instant privacy hero. Any address entered in this field is hidden from all other recipients.

Each recipient listed in the Bcc field receives a copy of the email, but no one listed in the Bcc field can see the names of the other recipients, which protects everyone's privacy. Nobody except you and the Bcc recipients know that they were sent a copy of the email. Their email addresses are not exposed.

One problem: You have to enter something in the To field. This workaround solves the problem.

Use the Bcc Field

Here's how to address a message in Gmail to Undisclosed recipients with all email addresses hidden:

  1. Click Compose in Gmail to start a new message. You can also press c if you have Gmail keyboard shortcuts enabled.

    Compose button in Gmail
  2. In the To field, type Undisclosed recipients < followed by your Gmail address and a closing >. For example, if your Gmail address is myaddress@gmail.com, you'd type Undisclosed recipients < myaddress@gmail.com>.

    Undisclosed Recipients in To: field in new message in Gmail
  3. Click Bcc.

  4. Type the email addresses of all intended recipients in the Bcc field. Separate the names by commas.

  5. Enter the message and its subject.

  6. Add any formatting using the toolbar at the bottom of the compose screen.

    BCC field filled in, Send button to click in Gmail
  7. Click Send.

This method cannot be used to send out large mailings. According to Google, free Gmail is meant for personal use, not for bulk mailing. If you attempt to add the addresses of a large group of recipients in the Bcc field, the entire mailing may fail.

If you write the same group of recipients repeatedly, consider turning them into a group in Google Contacts.

How to Make an Email Group in Gmail

When you add your recipients' names to a group, you type the name of the group in the To field instead of the individual names and email addresses.

Older versions of Google Contacts used a different method to create Groups. You can find it on this Google help page.

  1. Launch Google Contacts.

  2. Mark the box next to each contact you want to include in the group. 

  3. Click Create New Label in the sidebar.

    Create Label button in Google Contacts
  4. Enter a name for the new group in the field provided.

    OK button in Create label dialog box in Google Contacts
  5. Click OK to create the new group containing all the contacts you selected.

  6. To add contacts to the new group, click on the Tag icon in the upper right corner with the contacts selected.

    Tag selected for Google Contacts
  7. Then click on the tag you want to add the contacts to. A checkmark will appear.

In the email, begin to type the name of the new group. Gmail will populate the field with the complete name.

If you're uncomfortable with not letting recipients know who is receiving the same message, just add a note at the beginning of the message that lists the recipients—minus their email addresses.

Benefits of Using 'Undisclosed Recipients'

The primary benefit of sending out your emails to Undisclosed Recipients are:

  • Privacy for the people who receive the email. Concealing their email address is a professional way to handle the privacy problems inherent in group emails.
  • Avoids email filters so your recipient sees the email
  • Reduces junk mail
  • Protects your recipients from spammers

You don't have to call your group Undisclosed Recipients. You could name it something like Social Project Staff Members or Everyone at X, Y, and Z Company.

What About Reply All

What happens when one of the Bcc recipients decides to reply to the email? Does a copy go to everyone in the Bcc field? The answer is no. Email addresses in the Bcc field are copies of the email only. If a recipient chooses to reply, he can only reply to addresses listed in the To and Cc fields.