Redirect Email Messages Instead of Forwarding Them

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A customer sends you a work-related email. Good. The message's only fault is that it is obviously not you who can answer it (it's about the long-retired model KH9345-I).

Forwarding Woes

So you forward the message to someone who can answer it. Good. The only problem now is that you are the sender of the message.

  • The knowledgeable colleague cannot answer the customer request directly.
    • The answer would be sent to you. You'd have to forward it to the original sender...
  • Instead, she has to extract the customer's email address from within the body and paste it in the To: line.

Obviously, some of email's convenience and power was lost when you forwarded the message.

And then there is all that extra stuff: more or less beautiful quotation marks ("> ") at the beginning of each line, possibly a "FORWARDED MESSAGE BEGINS HERE" at the beginning and lots of extra headers that nobody needs but that are longer than the message itself.

Redirecting to the Rescue

Redirecting mail instead of forwarding it can save you and your colleague. When an email message is redirected, the only essential part of it that changes is the recipient.

The Subject stays the same (no "Fwd:"). The body stays the same (no "> ", no "FORWARDED MESSAGE"). The sender in the From line stays the same, at least for the email client.

This means that the recipient of a redirected message...

  • can use her email client's reply function to compose a message to the original sender directly, not the one who redirected the message.

Email clients that allow you to redirect messages will somehow show that the message has been redirected, however. For example, Thunderbird inserts "(by way of [name] [email address])" in the From line, while The Bat! adds the "Resent-from:" header line. This makes it clear to the recipient that the message was redirected and who redirected it.

To find out whether your email client supports redirecting messages, look for a command named "Redirect" near the "Reply" command. Since it is not as important as the latter you may not find it as a toolbar button, but the menu is a good place to look.