Forwarding in Gmail

Last updated: July 10, 2015 - 1:44pm EDT

Say that your friend sends you a funny joke to your Gmail account. You want to share it with your friends in the same way, but you don't want to send it back to the friend who sent it, and you don't want to have to create a new message and write the joke out again yourself. That's where "forwarding" is useful.

 What is Forwarding?

"Forwarding" simply means sending an email that you received to someone other than the person from whom you received it, without having to rewrite the whole email. Think about it like being a runner in a relay race. Your first teammate runs around the track with the baton, and then passes the baton to you. You don't have to go get an entirely new baton; you just take the one that your teammate gives you, run around the track, and then pass it on to your next teammate. Forwarding works in the same general way: you just take an email that someone already wrote to you, and pass it on to someone else.

How to Forward an Email in Gmail

The process for forwarding an email with Gmail is very similar to replying to one.

  1. Go to and log in (if you haven't already). When you get to your main "Inbox" screen, click on the conversation (but not on the three buttons on the left of it) that contains the email that you wish to forward.

  2. Now, at the box at the bottom of the screen, you can click Forward to forward the last email in the conversation. Additionally, you can forward any email that is visible in the conversation (remember, click the grey collapsed preview of an email -- or the sender or date it was received, if that's easier to remember -- to make it visible or invisible) by clicking the arrow button () button next to the reply button () in the upper-right corner of the message, and then selecting Forward from the drop-down menu that appears.

  3. The box at the bottom of the screen should look similar to the screenshot below. Note that it looks almost the same as when you used the "Reply" function, but with a few key differences.

    The most obvious one is that the email you are forwarding has been cut-and-pasted into the Composition Box, so you don't have to re-type it yourself. You can, however, add any of your own comments by clicking in this box and typing on your keyboard (like we've added here "Aren't my colleagues just the best?").

    The other main difference is that will be no names or addresses in the Recipients ("To") bar (although we've added one here.)  Unlike with the "Reply" function, Gmail can't guess who you're going to be sending the forwarded email to, so you'll have to click in this bar and type in their names or addresses yourself.

    Other than that, you can do with a forwarded email most of what you can do with other types of email you write on Gmail:

    -- Click CC or BCC to select recipients of carbon copies or blind carbon copies
    -- Click Formatting Options and change how parts of the message look
    -- Click Attachments to send a file on your computer along with the email message
    -- Click Discard if you change your mind and want to stop writing the email

  4. Once you've done everything you want to with your email, click Send, and off it goes!

And those are the basics of forwarding an email with Gmail!


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