What is the Difference Between Forward and Reply in Outlook?

Last Updated on November 30, 2023 by Amit Bansal

In my experience with email communication, I’ve learned that it’s crucial to understand the difference between forwarding and replying to a message.

Each action serves a distinct purpose and greatly influences the way I engage in email conversations.

Whether I’m using email clients like New Outlook or accessing Outlook on the web, mastering the reply and forward functions has significantly improved my efficiency and professionalism in communication.

When I reply to an email, I’m directly responding to the sender. My response is sent only to the original sender, and the content of the previous conversation is typically included in my reply.

This contrasts with forwarding, which I use to send an existing email to new recipients, either individually or in a group.

This function is particularly handy for sharing specific email threads with people who weren’t part of the original conversation.

While forwarding, attachments from the original email are included, ensuring that the new recipients have all the necessary information.

However, it’s important to remember that when replying, the attachments from the original message are usually not included, unlike in forwarding, where they are.

Understanding these nuances helps me make more informed choices in my email communications.

Understanding the Process of Email Forwarding

The Basics of Forwarding

When we forward an email, we send a new message that contains the content of the original email to one or more recipients.

This can be helpful when sharing information received from someone else, or when redirecting an email to the appropriate contact.

Forwarding maintains the original formatting of the message and often includes information from the sender and the original recipient(s) in the header.

Attachments and Forwarding

One significant advantage of forwarding an email is that attachments from the original message are preserved.

This means that files or images included in the original email are sent along with the content when we forward the message to new recipients.

To send additional files, we can simply attach them to the forwarded email before hitting send.

Effective use of forward

To make the most of email forwarding, we should consider the following best practices:

  • Double-check that we’ve chosen the correct recipients
  • Remove any unnecessary information from the forwarded email to maintain clarity and brevity
  • Always include a brief note explaining why we are forwarding the email and what we expect the new recipient to do with the information

Forward Feature in Microsoft 365

For Microsoft 365 users, the Forward feature offers additional benefits. With a Microsoft 365 subscription, we have access to advanced features like:

  • Scheduling the email to be sent later
  • Allowing us to organize and secure our devices

Troubleshooting Forwarding Issues

Occasionally, we may encounter issues when trying to forward an email.

If our email doesn’t reach the intended recipient, there might be an issue with their email address or our email provider.

In these cases, it is useful to consult our email provider’s support resources, as they’re likely to have a database of common issues and solutions.

Understanding the Process of Email Replying

Basics of Replying to Emails

When we receive an email in Outlook, we can choose to reply, which enables us to send a response directly to the person who sent the original email.

To do this, we simply click on the “Reply” button and a new window will open. In a reply, the “To” field is pre-populated with the sender’s email address.

Normally, the subject line of the reply email starts with “Re:” followed by the original email’s subject.

This helps us to quickly reference the conversation and stay organized.

Replying and Attachments

One crucial point to remember when replying to emails in Outlook is that any attachments from the original email are not included in the reply.

If we want to keep the attachments in the conversation, we need to use the “Forward” option and add the original sender’s email address manually.

This process will preserve the attachments and allow the recipient to view them.

Effective Use of Reply

Utilizing the “Reply” function in a meaningful manner is essential for streamlining our communications and maintaining efficiency. We should make sure to:

  • Address all the points mentioned in the original email
  • Keep the response concise and clear
  • Use bold and italic text to emphasize important points
  • Organize the response in bullet points or numbered lists, if necessary

Reply Feature in Microsoft 365

Subscribers of Microsoft 365 enjoy additional benefits while utilizing the “Reply” feature, such as enhanced security options to secure our devices and better tools to organize our emails.

These features enable us to work efficiently and safely while managing our emails through Microsoft’s platform.

Troubleshooting Reply Issues

If we experience any issues while using the “Reply” function in Outlook, we can refer to Microsoft’s support resources.

They provide comprehensive guides and solutions for common problems related to replying to emails, such as:

  • Issues with the “To” field not populating correctly
  • Problems with formatting or alignment
  • Errors while trying to send the reply

In case the issue persists, we can always reach out to Microsoft’s customer support team for further assistance.

Noteworthy Features and Functions

Cc and Bcc in Outlook

When sending emails in Outlook, one option to include additional recipients is by using Cc (carbon copy) and Bcc (blind carbon copy).

Cc recipients are visible to everyone, while Bcc recipients remain hidden, ensuring privacy.

For example, if we want to inform multiple co-workers but maintain their email addresses’ confidentiality, we can add them to the Bcc field.

Organizing Email Conversations

Outlook offers a powerful feature to organize email chains as conversations, enhancing the communication process.

By grouping related emails by subject, it becomes easier to keep track of and manage email communications.

In our inbox view, we can select the option to view emails by conversation, allowing us to collapse and expand entire threads at once.

This makes it simpler to follow up on important discussions or locate specific information.

Drafts and Sent Items Management

Managing drafts and sent items in Outlook is highly efficient. When composing an email but we need to pause for any reason – possibly to gather more information or check for errors – we can save the email as a draft.

Outlook also auto-saves our progress frequently, ensuring minimal loss of work in case of technical issues.

Once we have sent our email, Outlook stores a copy in the Sent Items folder.

This folder allows us to check if the email was delivered, re-read the content, or even resend and forward the message as needed.

Should we decide not to send the email, we can choose to discard the draft, removing it from our Drafts folder.

By understanding and utilizing these key features in Outlook, we can enhance our overall email experience, while improving communication efficiency and organization.

Before you go ……

Wrapping up our discussion about the differences between “Forward” and “Reply” in Outlook, I want to leave you with a few key takeaways.

Remember, when you hit ‘Reply‘, you’re continuing the conversation with the original sender or the group involved in the email thread.

It’s like answering back in a group chat. On the other hand, ‘Forward’ is your go-to option when you want to bring someone new into the loop.

Think of it as introducing a friend to another group – you’re sharing the original message with someone not initially involved in the conversation.

Keep in mind that ‘Reply’ maintains the intimacy and relevance of the original discussion, ensuring that everyone on the thread is on the same page.

However, when you ‘Forward’, you’re essentially starting a fresh conversation, possibly with a different context or audience.

It’s important to be mindful of what’s being shared and with whom, especially in a professional setting.

Lastly, always double-check before hitting send. It’s easy to mix up these functions, but a little caution goes a long way in maintaining professional etiquette and ensuring effective communication.

So, the next time you’re about to respond to an email in Outlook, pause for a moment and ask yourself: am I continuing an existing conversation or starting a new one?

Your choice between ‘Reply’ and ‘Forward’ will shape the direction of your communication. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll navigate your Outlook inbox like a pro!

Quick Wrap-Up in Tabular Form

Primary FunctionSends the email to a new recipient or recipients.Sends a response back to the original sender.
RecipientsCan add new recipients who were not in the original email.Do not include attachments from the original email unless ‘Reply All’ is used and the original email has attachments.
Original MessageIncludes the original message content.Includes the original message content for reference.
Use CaseUseful for sharing information with someone who was not originally part of the email conversation.Useful for continuing a conversation with the original sender or group.
AttachmentsKeeps the attachments from the original email (unless removed manually).Does not include attachments from the original email unless ‘Reply All’ is used and the original email had attachments.
Email ChainStarts a new email thread with the new recipients.Continues the existing email thread.
Subject LineAdds “FW:” to the beginning of the original subject line.Keeps the original subject line, often adding “RE:”.
Privacy ConcernNeed to be careful about forwarding sensitive information to unintended recipients.Limited to those already in the email conversation, reducing the risk of sharing information with unintended recipients.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What does the reply to all email function do in Outlook?

When you use it, you’re sending your response to everyone who was included in the original email.

It’s super handy when you need to share your thoughts or information with the whole gang involved in the email thread, not just the person who sent it.

Just remember to use it wisely, because everyone in that email chain will get your message, and you definitely don’t want to spam people unintentionally!

What does forwarding an email do in Outlook?

Forwarding an email in Outlook is like passing a note in class to a friend who wasn’t there for the original conversation.

It lets you send the email to someone new, who wasn’t included in the original recipient list.

This is super useful when you need to share information or a message with someone who needs to be in the loop but wasn’t initially part of the email exchange.

Just add the new person’s email address, hit forward, and voilà, they’ve got all the info without having to start from scratch.

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Amit Bansal

Hello, my name is Amit Kumar Bansal, and I am the founder of MailSmartly.com. Through this blog, I focus on Microsoft Outlook, offering insightful and informative content. Additionally, I produce educational videos on YouTube to further enhance the understanding of my audience. visit my YouTube Channel

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