Manage "Reply All" messages in Gmail

Please note: this tech tip is not in response to any specific individual's actions - it is simply an often-requested technology tip and etiquette question from teachers.

Muting Reply All

Occasionally we all find ourselves on the receiving end of group emails - and multiple replies - that do not apply to us.

To stop receiving replies to emails in an email chain, you can use the "Mute" function of Gmail:

1. Open the email message - either the original or any Reply All to it.

2. Click the three dots on the menu bar at the top of your inbox.

3.   Select "Mute"

This will prevent future replies to that email chain from reaching your Inbox.  Keep in mind, you'll then miss any future replies, so be very certain that there's no chance of missing something pertinent down the line.

Preventing Reply All on Emails You Send

If you are initiating a group email and want to prevent Reply All - for example, when emailing a group of students, you don't want them all replying to one another - @liblady83 recommends putting the recipients in the BCC field of the email instead of the To field:

1. In your new email, click the BCC field on the right:

2. Type the recipient(s), including Group email addresses, into the BCC field.

Keep in mind, BCC stands for "Blind Carbon Copy," which means none of the recipients will see who was BCC'ed. But that means they also won't be able to reply to anyone in the BCC field either.

And Now, a Word on Email Etiquette

Nowadays we all receive many emails, and it can be a daily struggle to filter through them all to determine which are a priority to us, which can wait, and which are deletable. That means it is also important etiquette to use discretion when sending messages to a large group.

When you click on the Reply arrow button in Gmail, it defaults to Reply - which sends your response just to the sender of that message. For many situations, this is the best option.

Clicking the three dots and choosing Reply All sends your response to everyone on original sender's email list. If it is sent to a Group email address, then everyone in that group will receive a copy of that message.

Reply All is a conscious choice that should be used when you have a question or comment that is pertinent to everyone, or at least  on the email chain. Some examples:
  • A logistical change that affects everyone - such as a time change for an event, a location change for a meeting, etc.
  • A question that multiple people in the group may want to give input on. 
  • All or most people on the chain need to be updated on future responses and shouldn't be excluded.
  • You are saying something that is appropriate to say to / in front of a large group (specifically, the group(s) you are emailing) and you need them all to hear it.
You definitely don't want to exclude people or groups from messages they need to hear. But good "netiquette" also involves being mindful of flooding inboxes.

For more perspective on the use of Reply vs. Reply All, as well as the CC and BCC fields and more, check out this blog post.

Happy Thoughtful Replying!

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