Blind carbon copies protect message group e-mail addresses list

Ask Jim

Plugged In

November 09, 2006|By Jim Coates | Jim Coates,Chicago Tribune

I have created in my e-mail account (on Yahoo) a group list for the purpose of sending out summary information at various times. I would prefer that each recipient not receive the names and e-mail addresses of the entire group to which the message is sent. How do I do this?

- Maggie Bath,

This problem of privacy among pals pops up quickly as ever more families, churches, book clubs, political campaigns and other so-called affinity groups discover the power of broadcasting form messages to every member using e-mail.

The easiest fix is a tool built into most e-mail programs called BCC, which stands for blind carbon copy. The idea is that you create a mailing list with all of the members' names that can be copied and pasted into a box named BCC, located just below the box for To, where you normally type in the e-mail address. Those put in the BCC box will get a copy of the e-mail showing only their name as the recipient. They will not see who else received it.

There are two things to do. First, you need to set your e-mail software to allow BCC, and then you must find a way to copy and paste the group names into it. BCC often is hidden from view when an e-mail program first runs and I don't know why, Ms. B., but that how it's done.

To find it in the e-mail module in Outlook Express, open a fresh message and then look for the item for View in the menu at top starting with File and Edit. In the View drop-down menu is an item called "All Headers." Select this and a line for BCC will be inserted below the regular To box.

In Outlook Express, you can either use the built-in address book or just paste in the list of names using the Windows Select-Copy-Paste routine. A lot of listmakers need to do this because they don't really have detailed contact info for every list recipient in the address book.

A lot of list users create a simple text file to hold all of the addresses and then open that file and press Control + A to select all the names and then Control + C to copy them into memory. Then go to the e-mail message form and click inside the BCC box and press Control + V to paste them all into the line. The big reason many people use this method is that they start a list by copying all of the names that appeared in the To box the first time they got a note themselves.

Since you mention Yahoo, which allows users to either use Outlook Express or just work with Yahoo's own Web-based e-mail tool, you can find the BCC header by using the Add BCC option that appears to the right of the To box in the message window.

I did something I didn't want to do when I recently installed the Adobe Photoshop 4 program on my computer. Photoshop has taken over as the default program to open with many different kinds of files, including photographs in the JPG, GIF and BMP formats. Maybe even worse, when I try to open one of Adobe's PDF files attached to an e-mail message, it comes up in Photoshop instead of in the Adobe Reader program that is far easier to use. Because Photoshop takes a long time to come up, trying to open picture files has become a nightmare.

- Elaine Markousis, Chicago

This kidnapping of file types happens a lot when one installs programs that handle stuff like photographs, music and videos because each program's maker wants to put its product before the customer as much as possible. Customers can get pretty unhappy when tricked into making Photoshop the default for common picture files such as a JPG or a GIF. The fix is fairly simple. Find an icon for each of these files types - a JPG photo, a GIF image and a PDF document. Give each of these icons a right-click and it will pull up a menu that includes an Open With choice. Select that and you get a display showing the current program used to open it and there will be a Choose Program button. Pick that and you will get a list of most of the programs on the machine that can handle such files.

With image files, you might want to pick one called the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer. After selecting this different program you will see a check box that changes that program to be the default for that file type. Do this for JPG and then for GIF and then BMP.

With PDF files, right-click on an icon and look for the choice of Adobe Reader, which is the fast and efficient software provided by Adobe itself to quickly open its common PDF files.

Jim Coates writes for the Chicago Tribune.

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