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Sometimes, you might want to copy your sent emails to another address without the recipient knowing. In Microsoft Outlook, you can set up rules for doing this. We’ll walk you through the process and share an important caveat.

Most people are familiar with the CC (carbon copy) option in their email program. CC’ing someone means you’re sending them a copy of the message. The other recipients can also see who’s been CC’ed.

There’s also a BCC (blind carbon copy) option. Anyone you BCC will be hidden from the other recipients, but he or she will be able to see the sender and the recipients.

In Outlook, you can add the BCC field to emails with a simple toggle switch. To do so, open a new email, switch to the “Options” tab, and then click “Bcc.” This will make the “Bcc” field visible on this and all new emails. To hide it once again, click Options > Bcc on any new email.

Outlook's "BCC" toggle button.

If you want to BCC someone on a specific email, simply type that person’s email address in the “Bcc” field the same way you would in the “To” or “Cc” fields.

The “Bcc” field is most commonly used when sending bulk emails to lots of recipients, such as a newsletter. Depending on where you are in the world, you might be legally obliged to hide people’s email addresses for data protection reasons.

Even if there isn’t a compelling legal obligation, it’s still a good practice (and common courtesy) not to broadcast people’s email addresses without their consent.

There are other scenarios in which you might want to BCC someone. For example, if you’re dealing with a troublesome employee or coworker, you might want to keep a record of your email interactions in case you need to raise a grievance. BCC allows you to send copies of the messages to any address you want, without the recipients knowing about it.

If you want to add a BCC recipient to every email automatically or to specific emails—such as those to a certain individual or that contain specific words in the subject line—there’s no simple way to do so. If you’ve used Outlook rules, you might expect this to be an option, but unfortunately, it isn’t.

The action options in the Rules Wizard.

It is possible to use rules, but you have to create more than one. Specifically, one rule to apply a category to emails you want to BCC, and another to auto-forward emails within that category to another address. This isn’t quite the same as a BCC, but it achieves the same thing.

The important caveat we mentioned earlier is a lot of businesses block their staff from auto-forwarding emails outside the company. This is because auto-forwarding rules are a common method cybercriminals use to get data from businesses.

Any business large enough to have its own IT department will most likely block auto-forwarding. It will also probably get an alert when someone sets up an auto-forwarding rule.

If your company blocks auto-forwarding, you’ll have to add the BCC manually if it’s going to an external email address. If you’re forwarding to another mailbox within your company, or your company doesn’t block auto-forwarding, though, you’re good to go.

With that caveat in mind, here’s how to set up the two rules.

Rule 1: Apply a Category

Make sure you’re in your Outlook Inbox, and then, while viewing the “Home” tab, click Rules > Manage Rules and Alerts.

The Rules > Manage Rules & Alerts option.

In the “Rules and Alerts” panel, click “New Rule.”

The "New Rule" button.

Select “Apply Rule On Messages I Send” in the “Rules Wizard” that appears, and then click “Next.”

The "Apply rule on messages I send" in the Rule Wizard.

Next, you choose the emails to which you want to automatically apply the category. If you want to categorize all emails, click “Next.” A warning will be displayed; click “Yes.”

The rule confirmation dialogue.

If you only want to categorize specific messages, you’ll have to choose which kind. There are a large number of conditions to choose from, including those with certain words in the subject line or the body, those with attachments, and so on.

We’re going to categorize emails sent to a specific person, so we select the “Sent to People or Public Group” option.

The "sent to people or public group" in the Rule Wizard.

We click the “People or Public Group” link to choose the recipient.

The "people or public group" link.

We can select the person from our address book or type the email address directly in the “To” field, and then click “OK.”

The field in which to put the recipient's email address.

We click “Next.”

The "Next" button in the Rule Wizard.

On the next page of the wizard, we select the “Assign It to the Category Category.”

The "assign to the category category" option in the Rules Wizard.

We then click the “Category” link to assign a category.

The "category" link.

In the “Color Categories” window that opens, we choose the category to which we want this to apply. You can also click “New” to create a new one, and then click “OK.”

The "Color Catergories" panel.

To avoid auto-forwarding the wrong emails to yourself, consider creating an entirely new category just for this.

The category in the wizard will change to the one you’ve selected. Click “Finish.”

The "Finish" button in the Rules Wizard.

Click “OK” in the confirmation box and your first rule is created.

The Rules confirmation dialogue.

Rule 2: Auto Forward the Emails

Now you have to set up a rule which auto forwards emails that have the category you chose in Rule 1.

First, click your “Sent” items folder to switch to it. This step is essential, otherwise, the rule will only run on emails in your Inbox.

On the “Home” tab in Outlook, click Rules > Manage Rules and Alerts.

The Rules > Manage Rules & Alerts option.

Select “New Rule.”

The "New Rule" button.

In the “Rules Wizard,” click “Apply Rule On Messages I Receive,” and then click “Next.”

The "Apply rule on messages I receive" in the Rules Wixard.

On the next page of the wizard, select “Assigned to Category Category.”

The "assigned to category category" option in the Rules Wizard.

Click the “Category” link to choose the category to which you want to assign it.

The "category" link.

In the “Color Categories” window, choose the category you set in Rule 1, and then click “OK.”

The "Color Catergories" panel.

The category in the wizard will change to the one you selected. Click “Next.”

The "Next" button in the Rule Wizard.

On the next page, select “Forward It to People or Public Group.”

The "forward it to people or public group" option in the Rules Wizard.

Click the “People or Public Group” link to choose a recipient.

The "people or public group" link.

You can select the address to which you want to forward the emails from your address book or type it in the “To” field. Then, click “OK.”

The field in which to put the email address you want the emails forwarded to.

Click “Next” twice to get to the final page of the wizard. Give your rule a name, make sure it applies to the “Sent Items” folder, and then click “Finish.”

The final page of the Rules Wizard.

Your rules are now created! Whenever you send an email to the person you specified, a category will be added to the email (Rule 1). Once the email reaches your “Sent Items” folder, it’ll be automatically forwarded to the address you specified in Rule 2.

Rob Woodgate Rob Woodgate
Rob Woodgate is a writer and IT consultant with nearly 20 years of experience across the private and public sectors. He's also worked as a trainer, technical support person, delivery manager, system administrator, and in other roles that involve getting people and technology to work together.
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