Can People See If You Forward An Email? (No!)

Email forwarding is very common. However, many people still don’t know if the original sender can tell when you forward their email to someone else.

In most cases, people will NOT see it.

Standard email forwarding relies on simple internet transfer protocols that do not communicate back to the original sender.

The sender will NEVER know.

But in certain situations, the sender might figure out their email has been forwarded.

In this post, I’ll explain this in detail and talk about situations WHEN can people see if you forward an email. Plus, I’ll go over some FAQs.

Can Someone See If You Forward Their Email?

Almost all the popular email services do not have any capability to notify the original sender when an email they sent is forwarded to someone else.

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When you hit the forward button, all your email provider does is send a new copy of the message to the new address.

Nothing is communicated back to the original sender.

Email providers like Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, iCloud and Hotmail all work this way.

However the person you forward the email to will know it’s forwarded. They will see the original sender’s email address, name and the time you received the email.

So if you don’t want the recipient to know it was forward, you’ll have to compose a new email and copy paste the message.

Replying To Forwarded Emails

Another common concern is if the original sender can see replies when you forward their email to someone else.

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Fortunately, when a recipient hits “Reply”, email clients are smart enough to address the reply only back to the account that directly sent the message.

This would be your address, not the original sender’s.

So, you don’t have to worry about the replies going back to the original sender.

When Can People See If You Forward Their Email?

Here are some scenarios where people can see if you forward an email:

CCs And BCCs

If the original sender has CRM software (which many businesses use) integrated with their email, they may be auto-CC’d when you forward to a new person.

However this is rather rare. This is how it happens on Salesforce.

For example, a support rep named Sally might correspond with a customer using [email protected]. But in the background, [email protected] could also be CC’d on all her outgoing messages and replies.

This allows Sally’s emails to be logged and tracked on the CRM system. When she forwards a customer’s message to her manager, the CRM address gets copied again.

Now the CRM knows that an email it recognized is being forwarded outside the original chain.

That’s just one example of how a hidden CC can allow original senders to detect email forwarding, even though standard protocols are silent.

That said, these are rather easy to spot. Just look at the email headers to see if there are any addresses copied.

Link Tracking

If there are links on the email you are forwarding, the original sender might find out if the recipient clicks on them.

This is especially true if it’s sent through email marketing software like Mailchimp.

Marketing emails often track who clicks on embedded links. The sender won’t know who it was forwarded to, but they’ll know someone else clicked the link.

So consider removing links when forwarding marketing related emails.

Other Ways

Apart from all that, the recipient could always just tell the sender they received their forwarded email.

Not much you can do there!

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If You Forward An Email Can They See The Whole Thread?

No, only the specific email you forwarded is sent when you forward an email. The entire back-and-forth thread or conversation is not sent to the receiver.

Is It Okay To Forward An Email?

It’s okay to forward an email as long as the content is not confidential or sensitive. However, don’t forward private, personal, or work messages without the original sender’s consent. It’s rude and unethical.

Bottom Line

All in all, you can comfortably forward emails knowing the original sender will be none the wiser – unless these are marketing emails.

The standard email protocols will not notify the sender.

About Author

Lito James is the founder of He is an entrepreneur and marketing specialist who helps businesses to get more leads, subscribers, and customers. Massive Peak has been featured on G2, Cloudways, Sujanpatel, GetResponse, Renderforest, and many more. Follow on LinkedIn | Twitter

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