Handling E-Mail Messages in Microsoft® Office Outlook® 2007

  • 1/3/2007

Replying to and Forwarding Messages

You can reply to or forward most e-mail messages that you receive by clicking the Reply, Reply To All, or Forward button either within the message window or on the Standard toolbar. When replying to a message, Outlook fills in the To and Cc boxes for you, addressing the response either to only the original message sender or to the message sender and all other people to whom the message was addressed or copied (recipients listed in the To and Cc boxes), depending on the reply option you choose. Outlook does not include recipients of blind courtesy copies (Bcc recipients) in message replies. You can add, change, and delete recipients from any reply before sending it.

To include all recipients of a message in your reply, click the Reply To All button. Outlook addresses your reply to the original message sender and any recipients listed in the To box of the original message, and sends a copy to any recipients listed in the Cc box of the original message.

Similarly, you can forward a received message to any e-mail address (regardless of whether the recipient uses Outlook) provided the message was not sent with restricted permissions. When forwarding a message, Outlook does not fill in the recipient boxes for you.

When responding to an e-mail message, take care to use good e-mail etiquette. For example, don’t forward messages containing large attachments to people with low-bandwidth connections who don’t need the attachment. If your response is not pertinent to all the original recipients of a message, don’t reply to the entire recipient list, especially if the message was addressed to a distribution list that might include hundreds of members.


You can prevent people who are using Outlook from automatically replying to all recipients of a message you send, by creating a custom message form with the Reply To All functionality disabled. For more information, see the article “Prevent e-mail message recipients from using Reply All or Forward” at


This method does not prevent recipients using Windows Mail, Microsoft Outlook Express, or Microsoft Outlook Web Access from using the Reply To All function. And of course, the person responding to your message can always choose to manually address his or her response to all the original recipients.

An easier way to prevent people from replying to multiple message recipients is to address the message to yourself and send blind courtesy copies to all other recipients. Then the recipient list will not be visible to anyone.

If the original message contains one or more attachments, be aware that replies do not include attachments, and forwarded messages do.


If a message contains voting buttons, you can respond by opening the message and clicking the button corresponding to the response you want to send. Or you can click the Infobar (labeled Click Here To Vote) in the Reading Pane and then click the option you want. You can choose to send a blank response containing your vote in the message header, or you can edit the response to include additional text.

If you use an e-mail signature, you can specify a different signature to appear in replies and forwarded messages than in new messages. For example, you might want to include your full name and contact information in the signature that appears in new messages, but only your first name in the signature that appears in replies and forwarded messages.

If you reply to or forward a received message from within the message window, the original message remains open after you send your response. You can instruct Outlook to close original messages after you respond to them—you will probably be finished working with the message at that point. To do so, click Options on the Tools menu. On the Preferences tab of the Options dialog box, click the E-mail Options button. In the E-mail Options dialog box, select the Close Original Message On Reply Or Forward check box, and then click OK in each of the two open dialog boxes.

In this exercise, you will reply to and forward messages.

  1. Look at the header information at the top of the message window.

    Note that this message includes two attachments, and the message window Ribbon displays only one tab (the Message tab), which contains all the commands you can use in a received message.

  2. On the Message tab, in the Respond group, click the Reply button.

    Outlook creates a reply message, already addressed to you (the original sender). If the message had been sent to any other people, the reply would not include them.

    A prefix, RE:, appears at the beginning of the message subject to indicate that this is a response to an earlier message. Note that the response does not include the original attachments (and in fact there is no indication that the original message had any). The original message, including its header information, appears in the content pane separated from the new content by a horizontal line.

  3. With the insertion point at the top of the content pane, type

    We’ll need to get approval from the Marketing team before proceeding.

  4. In the reply message header, click the Send button.

    Outlook sends your reply. (If you are connected to your e-mail server, the reply will appear shortly in your Inbox.) The original message remains open on your screen.

  5. In the original message, in the Respond group, click the Forward button.

    Outlook creates a new version of the message that is not addressed to any recipient. The FW: prefix at the beginning of the message subject indicates that this is a forwarded message. The files that were attached to the original message appear in the Attached box. The message is otherwise identical to the earlier reply message.

    You address and send a forwarded message as you would any other.

  6. With the insertion point at the top of the content pane, type

    Don’t forget to review these!

  7. Send the message, and then close the original message window.

    When the second message appears in your Inbox, compare the two messages. The forwarded message includes the original message attachments. Otherwise, other than the Subject prefixes and the text you entered, the messages are identical.