Lifehack: Email forwarding

Friday 31 October 2008, 2.58pm HKT


Do you really know how to forward email correctly?

50% do, 50% DO NOT.

Do you wonder why you get viruses or junk mail?

Every time you forward an email, there is information left over from people who got the message before you (namely, their email addresses and names).

As the messages get forwarded along, the list of addresses builds and builds and builds. All it takes is for some poor sap to get a virus and his/her computer can send that virus to every email address it has come across.

Or someone can take all of those addresses and sell them and send junk mail to them in the hopes that you might go to the website and they make five cents for each hit. That’s right, all of that inconvenience over five cents.

How do you stop it?

1. When you forward an email, delete all of the other addresses that appear in the message body (at the top). Yes, highlight them and delete them.

You MUST click the ‘Forward’ button first, and then you will have full editing capabilities against the message body and headers. If you don’t click on ‘Forward’ first, you will not be able to edit the message at all.

2. When sending email to several recipients, always use the ‘BCC:’ (blind carbon copy) field for listing the email addresses. Do not use the ‘To:’ or ‘CC:’ fields.

By using BCC for multiple destinations, recipients will see only their own email address but none of the other addresses. Your message will automatically say “Undisclosed Recipients” in the ‘To:’ field when it arrives to your recipients.

Just click on the ‘To’ field, your address list will appear, and tick destination addresses for BCC. It’s that simple.

3. Remove any ‘FW:’ in the subject line. You can rename the subject if you wish or even fix spelling.

4. Always hit your ‘Forward’ button from the actual email you are reading.

Ever get those emails that you have to open 10 pages to read the one page with the information on it? By forwarding from the actual page you wish someone to view, you stop them from having to open many emails just to see what you sent.

5. Have you ever gotten an email that is a petition? It states a position and asks you to add your name and address and to forward it to 10 or 15 people or your entire address book. The email can be forwarded on and on and can collect thousands of names and email addresses.

FACT: The completed petition is actually worth a couple of bucks to a professional spammer because of the wealth of valid names and email addresses contained therein.

If you want to support the petition, send it as your own personal letter to the intended recipient. Your position usually carries more weight as a personal letter than a laundry list of names and email address on a petition.

(Actually, if you think about it, who is supposed to finally send in the petition? And don’t believe the ones that say that the email is being traced; it just ain’t so!)

One of the main ones I hate is the ones that say that something like, “Send this email to 10 people and you’ll see something great run across your screen.” Or sometimes they’ll just tease you by saying something really cute will happen.

GONNA HAPPEN!!!!! Trust me, I’m still seeing some of the same ones that I waited on 10 years ago! I don’t let the bad luck ones scare me either, they get trashed. (Could be why I haven’t won the lottery??)

6. Check out any Amber Alert or Virus Alert before you forward them. Most of these alerts are junk mail that’s been circulating the ‘Net literally for years! Just about everything you receive in an email that is questionable can be checked out. Just go to or

It’s really easy to find out if it’s real or not. If it’s not, please do not pass it on. If it is true, then pass it on. Please, in future, let’s stop the junk mail and viruses being passed via forwards.

Finally, here’s an idea. Let’s send THIS to everyone we know (please strip off any email addresses first) and send them using the Blind Carbon Copy that should be forwarded.

(via Fred K. Lee, redacted from original email, Oct 2008)

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