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How to reply all in Gmail: Settings and instructions

How to reply all in Gmail: Settings and instructions

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Knowing how to reply all in Gmail (and also how not to) is a helpful skill for anyone who sends emails either personally or professionally. Read on to find out what “reply all” means, how to reply all in Gmail, and when it’s important to keep everyone on a Gmail conversation thread. We’ll also show you how to make replying-to-all your default Gmail setting if that’s something you’re interested in.

<a href="#reply-all-meaning" class="anchor-link">What Does “Reply All” Mean?</a>

<a href="#reply-all-gmail-desktop" class="anchor-link">Reply All in Gmail on Desktop</a>

<a href="#reply-all-gmail-phone" class="anchor-link">Reply All in Gmail on a Phone</a>

<a href="#default-reply-all-gmail" class="anchor-link">Default to Reply All in Gmail</a>

<a href="#bcc-instead-of-reply-all" class="anchor-link">Use BCC Instead of Reply All</a>

<a href="#recap-reply-all-gmail" class="anchor-link">Recap: Replying All in Gmail</a>

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What does “reply all” mean?

Simply put, “reply all” means that when you draft an email response and hit send, your email will go to the original sender and all CC’ed (carbon copied) recipients. It doesn’t send your email response to BCC (blind carbon copied) recipients — only email addresses that you can see on the thread. 

Whether you want to update colleagues on a business project or send a funny video to your family, there are many reasons to continue the conversation with reply all.

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How to reply all in Gmail on desktop

You have the option to reply all after receiving an email that was sent to multiple CC’ed recipients. By default, you’ll notice three options at the bottom of a group email in this order:

  • Reply
  • Reply All
  • Forward
  1. Click the middle option, Reply All, to reply to everyone who’s on the email thread. (You also find the option to reply all by clicking the three stacked dots on the upper right-hand side of your email window.)
Screenshot of the bottom of a Gmail email window, showing the Reply, Reply All, and Forward buttons. The Reply All button is highlighted, indicating that it is the selected option.
  1. Next, type your message for the group, and click Send. Your email will go to all recipients and CC’ed recipients.

Remember: Gmail automatically saves drafts, so if you hit Reply All and start typing a response but leave the window and revisit your message a little later, your drafted reply and any attachments will still be there.

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How to reply all in Gmail on a phone

Gmail makes it easy to reply to everyone in an email thread on mobile, too. Since the default setting is to reply to just the sender, you’ll have three options at the bottom of your screen in this order:

  1. Reply
  2. Reply All
  3. Forward
Screenshot of the bottom of the Gmail app on a phone, showing the Reply, Reply All, and Forward buttons.

Click on Reply All to compose a message to all contacts on the thread. Keep in mind that clicking Reply or just pressing the single arrow in the top right of your email window will send your message response only to the original author.

You can reply all another way by tapping on the three dots for More. There are two More menu icons here, so tap on the lower set of dots that’s next to the sender’s email address.

You’ll see a menu with Reply All as an option.

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How to default to reply all in Gmail

Do you ever mean to reply to everyone, and then accidentally reply to just one person? It can be frustrating since Google's default option for multi-person conversations isn’t to reply all. If you’re someone who has multi-person email threads that almost always need to reply all responses, we’ve got you covered.

Fortunately, Gmail has a setting you can update to make reply all your default type of response. (Unfortunately, you can’t set this up on the mobile app, so be sure to use a desktop.) 

Here’s what to do:

  1. Click on the gear icon in the upper right corner for Settings.
  2. Click See all settings.
Screenshot of the Gmail Settings page, showing the option to set "Reply all" as the default reply type for multi-person conversations.
  1. Locate Default reply behavior. (It should be in the middle of your screen!)
  2. Select Reply all.
Screenshot of the Gmail Settings page, with the Default reply behavior setting highlighted. The Reply all option is selected.
  1. Scroll down and hit Save Changes to save this new default reply behavior.

So what does this change? You’ll notice that the next time you go to respond to an email, the reply options have switched order Now, your buttons will appear in this order at the bottom of an email:

  1. Reply All
  2. Reply
  3. Forward

In addition to that, the reply arrow icon in the upper right of your email window will now appear as a double arrow. If you click this, Gmail will automatically set up your email response so it goes to all known email addresses on the thread.

Screenshot showing the new order of the reply options (Reply All, Reply, Forward) and the new double arrow reply icon in the Gmail compose window.

There’s an important caveat here: Changing Gmail’s default settings works perfectly for desktop users, especially those who use Gmail at work for frequent collaboration. But the mobile app shows no change after you set your default reply behavior on a desktop. That means you always need to be careful to choose the right reply option when you’re emailing Gmail’s mobile app.

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When to use BCC instead of reply all

When you click Reply all and send a message, all of the recipients can see all of the previous CC’ed emails on that email thread. But that might not be ideal. 

Let’s say you’re running a fundraiser and one of your colleagues introduced you to someone interested in contributing. Your colleague sent the introduction email to you and the new contact. You want to continue the conversation with the new contact, but your colleague doesn’t need to see all of your replies back and forth. 

After clicking reply all, you can BCC your colleague’s email. In the message, you’ll thank your colleague for the introduction and say hello to the new contact. The new contact can only reply to your email address after that point.

How to combine reply all and BCC

It’s simple to select some email addresses for BCC on a group email with these steps:

  1. First, click Reply all to start your email draft.
  2. Click or tap the From email address section at the top to expand all CC’ed emails.
  3. On desktop, click the BCC icon on the right to show the BCC address field. (Note: The mobile app automatically shows the BCC field).
Screenshot of the Gmail compose window, showing the From email address section expanded, with the BCC icon highlighted.
  1. Drag email addresses to the BCC field.
  2. Finish composing your email and click Send.

Now, all of your recipients will get your next email. But they can only see and reply to the CC’ed email contacts.

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Recap: Replying all in Gmail

Simply click the Reply all button below the email or in the menu tab to send your message to everyone in the group. You can change the default reply setting on desktop to make it a bit easier, but not on mobile, so always confirm your choice before sending an email.

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