Thursday, February 4, 2021

Reply All: Please Stop


We all have horror stories of incessant notifications from a Reply All email. Nobody wants their inboxes filling up with replies that often are irrelevant to you. Now I am not trying to demonize Reply All as it is a useful function for collaboration, but the issue is that it gets used too often, usually inadvertently. Let's take a look at a couple of ways you can defend yourself and others from the scourge of Reply All.

In Gmail, you can set it that your default reply behavior is to reply only to sender. Start by clicking the Settings gear in the top right corner. In the dropdown menu that appears, click See all settings.

Scroll down to Default reply behavior. Make sure to check Reply. This sets it so clicking Reply means you are only replying to the sender and not all included in the message. You still have the option to Reply All if necessary, but it's no longer default.

Another way to limit Reply All fiascos is how you include others in the messages you send. Usually, you just start entering recipients into an email message as seen below. Sending this way, all recipients will know that who else is included in the message and they can be subject to any Reply All's. 

Often forgotten is the BCC option. BCC stands for Blind Carbon Copy. Clicking BCC means that recipients will not know who else has been included in the message. It feels like the email was sent to them only. When they reply, the reply goes to you the sender. I learned the value of BCC when I began my blog mailing list and accidentally didn't use BCC and everyone's email was available to be seen by all on the list. If you're on my list, you can rest assured I don't make that mistake anymore.

After clicking BCC, a new row will appear where you will enter the names or addresses of recipients.

When you receive a BCC email, seen below, you will know you have been included in this message via BCC and this means others also received the message. If I were to reply to this message, the reply goes back to the recipient only.

If you are to click the little arrow next to BCC, seen below, you'll see details of the message confirming BCC and you will not see the addresses and names of other recipients.

Using BCC and setting your default reply behavior are two small things that can be done to combat the tyranny of Reply All. Use Reply All when necessary, but not by default. Do these two things and your colleagues will thank you. 

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