What Is the Difference Between Reply & Forward in Email?

By Julius Vandersteen

If you are learning how to use email on your computer, you might not be familiar with the actions you can take after receiving an email message, and you might be wondering what the difference is between "Reply" and "Forward." The reply and forward commands are methods for responding to email and sharing messages with other people.


When someone sends you an email message and you want to reply, you don't have to compose a new message from scratch and then type in your email address and the recipient's email address. Instead, click the "Reply" button. A new message is automatically created, which includes your address in the "From" field and your recipient's address in the "To" field. The "Subject" line will include the original text of the subject, preceded by "Re:" which you can change by typing in something else. Type your message above the copy of the original message in the main message window, and then click "Send."


If a person sends you an email message that you think someone else might be interested in reading, you can forward the message to the second person. Click the "Forward" button, and then type the address of your recipient in the "To" field. "Fwd" will appear in the subject line before the text of the original subject to notify your recipient that you are forwarding the message. Type in a comment, such as "I thought you might be interested in this," and then click "Send."


When you reply or forward an email message to someone, you might want to include a copy to a third party or multiple third parties. For example, you are coordinating plans for an activity with someone, and you want other people to get the same information simultaneously. When you reply or forward the message, click the "Cc" (carbon copy) field, and then type in the email address or addresses of other people. Each person getting the message will see the names of the other recipients, so they'll all know who is getting the information.


When you want to reply to or forward an email message to someone, you might want to send a copy to someone else, but not let the primary recipient know you are sharing the information. For example, you could reply or forward a message to a business client, and you want your boss to have a copy. Click the "Bcc" (blind carbon copy) field, and then type in the email address of the person to whom you want a copy sent of your reply or forwarded email.