Remove All Email Addresses When Forwarding a Message

Cleaning up an email before forwarding is courteous

E-mail icons and binary numbers (Digital Composite)

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Some email messages are worth forwarding.

You and anyone else who shares that opinion may forward a particular message to many other people. Because most email programs insert the headers including To: and often Cc: by default when you forward a message, you may be inadvertently sharing the contact information of people who would rather not have their email addresses publicized.

Removing the contact information from forwarded email on a desktop and mobile clients is a matter of privacy, security, and courtesy.

What Happens When You Do Not Remove Addresses

Not removing all the addresses on a forwarded email has a single advantage; everybody knows who already got a particular message, so there's no need to forward the same email to a person twice.

However, including all header information with all other To: and Cc: recipients have overwhelming disadvantages.

  • The message looks horrible, and often the actual content is buried and hard to find beneath all the email address.
  • You share the email addresses with third parties without the consent of the address owners. If you don't want your email address given to people you don't know just because somebody forwarded an email, you should understand why this is a concern.

Remove All Email Addresses When You Forward a Message

You should always remove all email addresses (except for the original sender if you deem it appropriate) before you send a forward. If you forward the message inline, highlight the addresses and click Delete. If you forward the message as an attachment, you might need to take some extra steps to move most of the addressees' information. Cleaning up an email you are forwarding is courteous to everyone involved.