Last reviewed on April 21, 2015   —  73 Comments

Former Outlook MVP Jay Harlow provided this information in a newsgroup posting:

In Microsoft Outlook, making someone an ‘Optional’ attendee is the same as Cc’ing that person. Making someone an ‘Resource’ attendee is the same as Bcc’ing that person.

To CC (or BCC) someone to a meeting

To CC someone to a meeting, you can use one of three methods to place the address in the Optional attendee field. (To BCC, use the Resources field and see the Notes, below.)

Use the Scheduling Assistant to select invitees

1. Select the Attendee Availability tab (Outlook 98/2000), Scheduling tab (Outlook 2002/2003), or Scheduling Assistant (Outlook 2007/2010)

Click in the Attendance column, and change the attendance for the person to Optional Attendee. Choose Resource if you want the person BCC’d.

2. On the Scheduling Assistant page, click the Add Attendees button to open the address book dialog and select invitees.

3. You can also click the To button on the Appointment page to open the address book dialog and put the person in the Optional (or Resource) list.

Forward as an iCal

Another method for BCC’ing invitees is to forward the meeting as an iCal. Add the attendees to the message BCC field. When the invitees accept or decline the invitation, the organizer will receive the response.

Notes

The Sender will see the Resource names in the To field of the meeting request, but when they click the To button, the addresses added as Resources will be in the Resources field.

Set the To field

Resources will be listed in the Location field – the sender will need to delete the BCC’d names from the Location field. If the Location field is empty, type in a location, otherwise Outlook will add the Resources back to the Location field.

resource fieldThis screen shot shows what the recipients see. If someone is CC’d, their name or address would be in the Optional field.


Comments

  1. Mark says

    The problem with using location as a BCC is that it isn't a true hidden email address. I've looked at the underlying code and the email address for all locations does indeed show up in the email push. Also this only works if you use the lookup button first because it has to add each address to mail to in the To box anyway.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Are you looking for the address on the sender's side or in the recipient's copy? I have yet to see the address in the recipient's copy (when the names are removed from the location field and something entered in the location).

      In any event, you can forward a meeting to others after sending it - it's an extra step but the original recipients definitely won't know.

    • Kiki (@Kiki3268) says

      I see it on the recipient side. It's also in the scheduling assistant for both sender and receiver. So I don't see listing someone as a resource as at all helpful to keeping attenees' emails private. I'm in Office 2013, not sure if that matters

    • Diane Poremsky says

      What type of email account do you use? The Resources field is not included on invitees version of the appointment here. Did you type something in the location field? If you leave the names in the location, others will see them, but if you remove the names and type or leave a location, they are not included in the meeting request. *If you don't have something in the location field, outlook will add the names back.*

      Using the Resource field

  2. Pierre says

    Very helpful, thanks a lot !!!!

    This function is available in Lotus (to inform but not to invite someone) but not in MS Outlook.
    Nice solution to use this missing function!

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Yeah, there are a number of little things like this where Lotus outshines Outlook. (Cc's on messages with attaches is one that comes to mind immediately.)

  3. Peter Jakobsen says

    Am I correct if I assume the "optional"choice is not really of any value and more a left over from "cc" in mailing?
    At least in my outlook 2010 you can't see if you're optional or required unless you open up the invite in its own window. No one does that were I work, as they can see all other information in the preview window of an invite and even accept or decline here...
    Would have been a smart feature, if it was clearly visible in the preview....

    • Diane Poremsky says

      I wouldn't say its of no value, but yes, it would be better if required or optional were visible in the invitation.

  4. Lisa says

    I have a group of contacts that I always send meeting requests to. I'd like to always make them "optional", but is there a way to set that up automatically without going into the "to" field each time to do it?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Only by using one or two methods: a custom form with the addresses in the optional field or with a macro to open the meeting form and add those addresses to the meeting.

  5. Richard nicholls says

    I have tried the above and works well. Except on one persons computer when someone accepts a meeting they always show up in Attendee and Optional. Always show up twice. Not sure why.

  6. mantrababy says

    Forward as iCal method is great except it does not work for Blackberry devices (they cannot open the attachment on their Blackberry phone to view the invitation, let alone "Accept" or "Decline").

  7. Angie says

    A large batch of the email addresses I put into teh resource box later appaered in the optional box. Why would this happen?

  8. Rathan says

    I want to fetch recipients from "To:" in schedule meeting, please help me with a answer.
    Thank you in advance.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      What version of Outlook? There is a button on at least newer versions for Reply with Meeting.

  9. J says

    I often send meeting requests to a group (i.e. all staff-headquarters), but when each recipient accepts the request individually, they are automatically listed as optional in the request. So, if I then send an update to the group, those people think they are now optional attendees - and it confuses those who have not sent a response as why they're not listed individually on the update.

    I've tried not requesting responses, but many people send them anyway. I've also tried deleting the individual names from the updates, but people then receive a cancellation notice causing even more confusion. Would the BCC/resources option be a solution to this problem? If individuals send a response (even if not requested), would they show up as optional or would they remain anonymous?

    As of now, I've started sending an entirely new calendar request with the updated materials, but that is confusing as then there are two items on each person's calendar for the same meeting.

    Any ideas of how to handle this? Thank you!

    • Diane Poremsky says

      When people send a response and aren't listed on the message, they are added to the tracking list by name. Did you try changing attendees from optional to required on the tracking tab? When I do that and click the Save button, then close it using X, an update is not sent.

      Yes, it's a bit of effort if you have a lot of invitees, but if its a frequent issue, you could probably use VBA to change optional to required.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Oh, another option is to expand the GL before sending. It looks messier though and group policy may block it.

  10. Kristen says

    I have an Access 2010 database to keep track of my team's cross-training sessions. I added some VBA coding to display an Outlook meeting invitation (Outlook 2010) with the session particulars. The session instructor(s) and participant(s) are required attendees; the supervising manager is an optional attendee.

    The invite displays fine at first, but I've noticed something strange happening when Outlook resolves the email addresses. If the addresses are resolved while the main invite tab is showing, the manager gets converted from an optional attendee to a required attendee (if the addresses are resolved while I'm on the scheduling assistant tab or when the global address list is open, the manager remains an optional attendee).

    Is this a bug? Is there a way to keep this from happening?

    Thanks.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      How are you coding the meeting? Try setting the status to olmeeting

      Set objAppt = Application.CreateItem(olAppointmentItem)
      objAppt.MeetingStatus = olMeeting

  11. Ashley Eldredge says

    I tried the method of marking everyone as a resource and keeping the location I specified. I sent it out to over 300+ persons. But now I don't get accepts/declines or tentative responses. I called someone outside my company that said they couldn't attend and they declined. I never saw the response. I'm thinking the calendar item broke because there are too many people. Help.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Either it broke or the responses were lost on the server, most likely due to antivirus / antispam scanning.

  12. Traci Salzer says

    How do you copy an individual on an Outlook Invitation without inviting them? We 'invite' participants to training but want to copy their management.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      You can't, really. You can "BCC" them by putting their name in the resource field, but it's still an invitation. You could use a macro to send an email with the details of the meeting to management, or to send an appointment containing the details. Again, not perfect, but it can be workable. Something along the lines of this macro: Send an email when you add an appointment to your calendar

  13. C says

    Diane this does not work. I invited people both inside and outside of the company to an event and only got accepts/declines from my colleagues. I know that people outside the company received the invitation but when they accepted/declined, I did not get the response.

    In short: You will not receive accept/declines from external emails if you use "bcc".

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Whether you receive confirmation depends on a number of factors, not specifically limited to using the location field.

      Two common causes of no responses returned are:
      The respond buttons may be missing in some clients. Assuming the client the invitee uses supports meeting requests... I've only seen this happen when every name was in the Resource/BCC field. If at least one person is in the To field, the buttons should be visible.
      The antispam filter or Exchange may reject the responses because the From address is missing in the response.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      No, not as far as I know. If there is, it would be fairly high, like near 100, which is the limit for any field in Outlook with some account types.

  14. Elle Vi says

    I found a major flaw in this method. A delegate receiving the invitation for a delegatee will see the full list of recipients.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Yes, that is usually how it works for delegates- they can see everything the person they work for can see.

  15. Elle Vi says

    Sorry but that's not my point.

    What I'm trying to say is that the delegate will see all the recipients of the meeting invitations, even if they were added as resources and the location manually set to some random text. This defeats the purpose of this method because a few users (those receiving the message as delegates) will be able to see who the recipients are.

    This resources method to hide recipients is flawed.

    I tested this using different versions of Outlook, Exchange, and Office 365.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Right, delegates of organizers should see everything - they have full access to the list of invitees. Delegates of people invited to the meeting should only see what the person who was invited sees. If it's set as private and private items are hidden from the delegate, can they see it?

      Meeting requests were not meant to be CC'd or BCC - the oalternate method of BCCing a message is to create the meeting and invite yourself, then forward the meeting to everyone else as an icalendar, but the delegate will still be able to see who accepts (unless its set as private).

  16. Elle Vi says

    Thanks for your reply but you still missed my point.
    I'll give you an example.
    Person A sends an invitation as described in your article, adding person B and person C as resources and removing the location pre-populated entries with some random text.
    Person D receives the invite because is a delegate of person C.
    Person D sees all recipients (person B and C) of the invitation.
    That's why using this method to hide recipients is NOT GOOD!
    The delegates of the recipients (and please note I'm talking about the recipients and not the organizer) will be able to see the entire list of recipients!!!!!!

    • Diane Poremsky says

      That shouldn't happen - the delegate should see the same information the invitee sees. I'll look into it.

      The only way to avoid this is to forward the meeting to invitees by email and an icalendar. They'll definitely only see their own names and the delegates won't get a copy.

  17. DiAnna says

    Hi. I am sending out an invite to a multiple people but I don't want them to know who else is being invited. Is there any way of BCC and calendar invite in Outlook 2007. Or do I have to send each recipent their own invite? Thanks.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      If you enter their name in the Resources field and put something in the location field, it will BCC the meeting.

    • Elle Vi says

      Sorry Diane but that is not true. Resources were never intended to be used this way and it shows. When you say that adding people as resources is like adding them in BCC it's just not true. Please avoid this method as it's just doesn't do what this article implies it does (please see my previous posts and also YR post below. AVOID!

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Although the resource field was not intended to be used this way, it's the only way to BCC a meeting request, which some people want to do. The only other option to hide names is by forwarding a meeting to one person at a time or forward as an iCal and BCC the message.

      I can't repro seeing the resource field when proposing new times. Only the organizer and optional is listed. If you have specific steps or configurations that show the "resources", please share.

      If you leave the names in the location, they will show up whether you propose a new time or not. You need to delete them and type a Location in the field.
      Resources are not listed when proposing new times

  18. Y R says

    Just realized that if you propose a new time that you do get to see other attendees even tough they were BCC through Resource, is there a way to conceal it?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      I'm not seeing that - I only see the organizer and the address(es) from the To field. (I assume I'd also see optional attendees, but I didn't test that field.) I don't see any of the addresses added to the BCC (Resources) Field.

      What version of Outlook do you use and what type of email account do you use?

  19. jim says

    I agree with Elle Vi Diane. On the received invite, on the schedluing tab, the attendees email address is available. Not a good option for those who need BCC.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      What type of email account are you using? What is your scenario? I'll see if i can repro it with specific account types, but it does work in the accounts most likely to send meetings- Exchange accounts.

      Meeting request with users as Resources (for BCC)

  20. Kay says

    i tried sending this as a icalendar invite and the individuals respond to the request. I get an email stating if they accepted or declined, but the tracking in the invitation doesn't update.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Do the recipients use outlook? What icon is on the response messages? If the response is sent as email, with the envelope icon, then Outlook won't autoprocess it. If it has the tracking icon, Outlook should process it.

  21. Ryan Pinke (@Pinke2020) says

    I have been using 31events.com to do mass invites and keeps everyone's email address separate. Then I get a dashboard to see who's calendar the event is on and can customize my marketing based on that. In addition I found my webinar attendance rate is over 75% based on the sign ups since it is on their calendar. Plus it works with Constant Contact & Mailchimp. One other great features is it is mail client agnostic. Outlook and Gmail invites appear as native invites to the users without having to download an ICS file.

  22. CJ says

    How come it appears that tracking is virtually useless for external clients? I can set the stage with what I did if anyone can repro this:

    1. I sent a test invite to myself as the Organizer in the hard "To" line.
    2. In the Resources line, I put in four external email clients. Only one was Exchange-to-Exchange. The other email clients were gmail and yahoo.
    3. Gmail and Yahoo allowed the users to "accept" and lock the calendar invite onto their personal calendars. However no "accept" notification went back to the Exchange organizer.
    4. External Exchange address allowed full feedback loop: Accept, Send Response to Organizer. Organizer can view the "Accept" in Tracking.

    The conundrum I face is that every invitee needs to be private and not see others, and the organizer needs to keep track of responses.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      3. Gmail doesn't send back notifications (if you use webmail)- so Outlook has no idea if they were accepted. It sounds like Yahoo doesn't either. Outlook needs to get something back so it can track. Outlook might not automatically process it, so you'd need to edit the tracking manually - but you need something back - Outlook doesn't have ESP or use magic to know if they accepted it. :)

      If the person uses Outlook to read yahoo or gmail, they will get a response back.

    • Elle Vi says

      Just don't forget that no matter what, a delegate, who's receiving the invitation for a manager, will be able to see **ALL** the recipients that were added as resources.

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      what happens when you try? Could it be your ISP limits the number of people you can include on a message? It's often used as a spam prevention step.

  23. jason says

    Thank you for the article. I came across an issue with it today. One of my co-workers sent an meeting invite to an Email List. She put the email list in the To field. Whenever people accept it, it shows them as optional. How does she have them accept but keep them as required?

    Thanks!

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      Because it was forwarded to them by DL, they will always show up as optional.. but you can click in the field on the Tracking tab and select Required. It's a bit of a manual effort, especially if you have a lot of attendees.

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      BTW - try this: on the tracking tab, expand the DL. It should add everyone in the DL to the list as required.

  24. Lynnette says

    Every time I add or delete an attendee using the resource method, every single 'resource' gets a new meeting request. Since the meeting is to a large number of clients, the updates happen quite frequently, which is annoying to the rest of the clients, who see no change in the meeting. When you add or delete a required attendee or optional attendee, I receive a notice asking if I wish to send to all, or only to changed attendees. For a resource, I am not prompted with that message. Is that normal, or am I doing something wrong?

  25. Jeri Meola says

    how can I set up a meeting with 80 individuals and keep the meeting invite and the invite attendees private. As the meeting organizer I'm the only one who wants to have details on who I invite and their reply

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      You either put all of the addresses in the resource field and type something in the location field - or you can create a meeting and invite yourself and sent to the others (using the BCC field) as an attachment. (the basic steps are here)

  26. Carol says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. This has made our HR Adviser very very happy for doing internal interviews for job changes etc.

    • PL says

      so the code would look like:

      Private Sub Application_Reminder(ByVal Item As Object)
      Dim MItem As MailItem
      Set MItem = Application.CreateItem(olMailItem)
      If Item.MessageClass "IPM.Appointment" Then Exit Sub
      If Item.Categories "Send Schedule Recurring Email" Then Exit Sub
      MItem.To = Item.Location
      MItem.Subject = Item.Subject
      MItem.Body = Item.Body
      MItem.Send
      Set MItem = Nothing
      oMail.cc = "xx@abc.com"
      End Sub

      ? tried this but doesn't work. Thanks.

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