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Hide e-mail addresses in an Outlook Contacts group



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When you send an e-mail to an Outlook contact group (formerly known as a distribution list), you may want to hide the e-mail addresses in the group from the recipients. The easiest way to protect the privacy of individuals:

What is a contact group?

In Office 365 (O365), the subscription version of Microsoft Office, two separate groups have replaced the distribution lists:

  • O365 Groups: These groups have been developed and are intended for direct collaboration between a group of individuals a shared mailbox, calendar, file store, scheduler, and OneNote notebook. These are great for small project teams to organize rehearsals for your local theater group, or for any other scenario where you need quick and easy collaboration tools.
  • Contact Groups: These are a set of e-mail addresses that have been added to a group. Instead of having to add them individually to an e-mail, you can e-mail the group name and all members of that group will be added as recipients. If you feel that this sounds exactly like a distribution list, you're right with one notable exception: By default, distribution lists (and O365 groups) in your organization's global address book will be visible to everyone. Contact groups are personal to you.

RELATED: What's the difference between Office 365 and Office 201

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If you do not have O365 and you are using a stand-alone version of Office without Web applications, you may still have distribution lists available. We'll show you how to hide the names of recipients in a contact group, but the same steps apply to distribution lists.

Why should you hide the names in a contact group?

Sometimes this is just the usual courtesy. It's okay for your friends to email you, but you probably do not want their contact information shared with anyone you send bulk emails to. If you are dealing with confidential information, especially financial or medical information, you probably need to keep the identity of individuals secret.

E-mail addresses can often be easily linked to a real person, as they are classified by both HIPAAs as "individually identifiable information" in the United States and the GDPR in Europe. For example, if you contact a support group by e-mail, you should not share the recipient's contact information.

How do you hide the names in a contact group?

The good news is that the names are hidden by Using the BCC option when creating your email is easy.

 The BCC field in a new email

BCC stands for Blind Carbon Copy. You've almost certainly used the Carbon Copy option if you want to include someone who is not the primary recipient of an email. BCC works the same as CC except that BCC recipients only see the name of the sender and the name of the person in the To field.

People who were BCC also do not see if anyone did this. By default, the BCC field does not appear when you create a new email. However, access to it is easy. Open a new email in Outlook and click Options> BCC.

 The Options tab and the BCC button.

This displays the BCC field in the new e-mail.

 BCC button and the BCC field.

You only have to do this once. In the future, all emails will show the BCC option. If you want to hide the BCC field, in an email, click Options> BCC. It will no longer be displayed.

Enter your name in the To field and your contact group in the BCC field.

 An email with my address in the To field and my contact group in the BCC field.

Everyone in the contact group receives the email, but they can see only the person who sent it (you) and the person in the "To" field (including you).


If you are doing this for the first time, you should include a note in the e-mail that explains the people for whom you use BCC to protect their privacy. This prevents less tech savvy recipients from wondering why they receive an email that looks like it came from you!


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