If ‘Send to All’ really existed…


LAST year a friend sent my email address a joke. 

Now I’m deluged with offers to augment the male anatomy, retrieve my winnings from a lottery I didn’t enter, or enjoy the charms of ladies called Anushka or Anastasya. 

And all because my friend took a leaf from the Michael McIntyre show by using his equivalent of that ‘Send to All’ game to pass on his innocuous joke.

What email etiquette did he contravene? His emailed joke was openly addressed to everyone in his address book. I could see all his dozens of friends’ addresses, and they could all see mine. In this age of easy digital pilferage that put all our addresses out there in the wild, it’s easy pickings for the spammers.

So here’s this week’s tiny but vital email etiquette tip: when you want to forward the funniest thing since segmented whole wheat, hide the addresses of your inflictees.

Here’s how: 

1) Compose your email.

2) Address it to your own email address.

3) Then add your recipients one by one with the BCC button.

BCC officially means ‘Blind Carbon Copy’. It’s the subversive variant of the CC ‘copy’ function, responsible single-handedly for swamping workplaces with avalanches of digital sludge.

BCC is a really sneaky way to copy someone into correspondence without the original addressee being aware of it. All BCC addresses are hidden from all other recipients, so no one can harvest valuable contact details from your address book. 

By addressing an email to yourself and then BCC-ing your recipients, their details remain sacrosanct and they’ll only hate you for the inanity of your joke, not for revealing their email addresses to all. 

While we’re at it, here’s another obvious but surprisingly common email fault: keeping everything in your Inbox.

My immortal beloved eventually had several thousand emails in her groaning, treacle-slow Inbox until she finally saw the light and was saved. 

All it takes is to make folders/directories in your email program’s left-hand navigation column, and every day drag your dealt-with emails from the Inbox into their respective folders: Business, Friends, Lovers, Potential lovers, Final demands, Absolutely final demands, whatever folders suit your particular needs. It makes finding the email you want a whole lot easier too.

One more tip: delete those huge attachments from your emails once you’re done with them. In some programs you just right-click the attachment symbol and choose delete. 

Your email program will become much more responsive without the burden of all those forwarded cat videos. So do it right miaow.

Scorched earth

RATHER than clean my lodgings as a student, it was often easier just to keep moving somewhere else. 

Sadly it’s not that simple with email, though some of us do indeed just give up when spammers overrun our accounts, and endure the ‘scorched earth’ hassle of starting a new address.

Hitting an ‘Unsubscribe’ link at the bottom of an email often works. But sometimes it has the opposite and unintended effect of confirming to the spammer that he has reached an actual live recipient, and the invasion ramps up.

For extreme cases you can actually train your program to recognise junk mail and move it to a junk folder automatically. Or you can use a proper spam blocker. I had 30 emails advertising one in my Inbox last week…

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Written by

Terence Kennedy


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