You may have been BCCed warning


Outlook doesn’t have such a feature built-in but by using Outlook’s rules or Conditional Formatting option, you can create a quite reliable warning mechanism with little effort.

If you are using Outlook Web App (OWA) on Exchange 2010, you’ll be warned via the MailTips feature of Exchange. Unfortunately, this BCC MailTip warning no longer works in OWA for Exchange 2013 or Outlook on the Web of Exchange 2016 or Exchange Online but the methods described below still works.

Alternatively, there are add-ins available which can alert you when you still reply to an email for which you were a hidden recipient.

Rules with Category or Action Flag

Manage Rules & Alerts buttonBy creating a rule which assigns a specific category or flag to a message whenever you are BCCed, you can display a short message at the top of your message in the Reading Pane. Sadly, there is no direct “where my name is in the BCC box” condition, but we can emulate that option by using Exceptions instead;

  • Apply this rule after the message arrives
  • Conditions
    • do not select any conditions
  • Actions
    • Action option 1: Category warning
      assign it to the category category
    • Action option 2: Action Flag warning
      flag message for follow up at this time
  • Exceptions
    • except if my name is in the To or Cc box
    • except if sent to people or public group/distribution list 
      select distribution lists for which you are an active participant 

Action option 1: Category warning

Categorize buttonTo get a more prominent warning, you can use the Category action where you name the Category for instance; You may have been BCCed!

Additionally, you can give this category a color to have it strike even more.

BCC MailTip via Category
Using a Category rule to create a BCC warning.

Action option 2: Action Flag warning

Flags & Reminders buttonFor a more subtle approach, you can use the Action Flag method with for instance the preset “No Response Necessary” or “For Your Information” but you can also type a custom message.

In addition, you can set the flag to Complete so it won’t be actually flagged and turned into a task.

BCC MailTip via Action Flag
Using an Action Flag rule to create a BCC warning.

Creating a rule

Manage Rules & Alerts buttonCreating a rule can be done in the following way;

  • Outlook 2007 
    Tools-> Rules and Alerts…
  • Outlook 2010, Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2016
    File-> Info-> Manage Rules & Alerts…

In the Rules and Alerts dialog, click New… and at the bottom select; Check messages when they arrive. Press Next and follow on screen instructions to create the above mentioned rules.

Conditional Formatting

Conditional Formatting buttonBy using Conditional Formatting (known as Automatic Formatting in Outlook 2007), you can also create a(n additional) visual aid to inform you that you were a BCC recipient.

However, to account for distribution list exceptions, you must enable the Query Builder so that you can create OR statements for additional To and CC addresses. You must also add these additional addresses for both the To and the CC fields.

Therefore, to reduce complexity and maintenance of the Conditional Formatting rule, I would recommend to only use this in combination with the Category or Action Flag rule mentioned above. This allows you to easily create a color coding filter based on the Category or the Follow Up Flag field.

You can find the Conditional Formatting or Automatic Formatting feature in your View Settings;

  • Outlook 2007 
    View-> Arrange By-> Custom…-> button: Automatic Formatting…
  • Outlook 2010, Outlook 2013 and Outlook 2016
    tab View-> button: View Settings-> button: Conditional Formatting…

Via Conditional Formatting you can set conditions for color coding the  
Via Conditional Formatting you can set conditions for color coding the 
messages in your mailbox.

Outlook on the Web (OWA) MailTips

Outlook on the Web buttonIf you are using an Exchange 2010 account and have used OWA to send messages, you may have noticed that you’ll also get a warning message when you are a hidden recipient and then click on Reply To All. This warning is coming from the MailTips feature of Exchange.

While Outlook 2010 and later also support various MailTips when connected to Exchange, sadly, this particular BCC MailTip is only supported when you use OWA and not when using Outlook.

Unfortunately, this BCC MailTip is also broken when using OWA of Exchange 2013 or Outlook on the Web of Exchange 2016 or Exchange Online.

BCC MailTip in Outlook Web App (OWA) on Exchange 2010. (click on image to enlarge)
BCC MailTip in Outlook Web App (OWA) on Exchange 2010.


Add-Ins buttonIf you prefer to get prompted when replying to an email for which you were a hidden recipient, you can use one of the following add-ins.

  • ReplyAll by VBOffice
  • Reply To All Monitor by Sperry Software (discount code: BH93RF24 )

For both, their main purpose is actually to alert you when you use (or not use) the Reply to All button when multiple people were addressed. In addition, they also check whether or not you were actually BCCed in this group or mass email.

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Dylan Austin


Whenever I have a problem, I sing. Then I realize my voice is worse than my problem.

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