This is about Google Inbox / Gmail.

When someone sends me a mail, and I wish to forward it to a third person, does it make any difference if, instead of forwarding it, I press reply, empty the To and CC fields, and then add the ID of the person I want to send it to?

In both cases:

  • The mail I send is threaded in the same conversation.
  • The recipient of my mail can't reply to the others in the thread (only to me).
  • The sender or people CC'ed in the original discussion don't know that I've shared the information with a third person.

So, it looks like there's no difference between reply and forward. Correct?

3 Answers 3


No, there really isn't much difference. The main feature of "reply" is that it auto-populates the "to:" field (and sometimes the "cc:" field, if you've chosen "reply all") for you. (The reply-to: header is used, if it exists.)

There may be some differences in the headers that some email clients might pick up on, but Gmail (and, by extension, Inbox) doesn't. As you've noticed, it keeps both replies and forwards in the same conversation.

  • Hitting "Reply" will use the (hidden) "Reply-To" header (if present) to populate the "To" field - this might otherwise be unknown. The email client will often modify the subject header with a prefix, eg. "Re:" for reply and "Fwd:" for forward.
    – MrWhite
    Jul 29, 2016 at 14:03
  • @w3dk The prefix is hidden in Inbox / Gmail unless you click Show Original. What difference does the Reply To header make? In both case, replies arrive in the same thread. Jul 29, 2016 at 15:14
  • @VaddadiKartick The addressee may be using a different email client, which shows Re: or Fwd: to them. The Reply-To makes a difference when it is different from the From: field. This doesn't happen often with personal email, but is common with list emails.
    – user79865
    Jul 29, 2016 at 16:44
  • You can also see the subject prefix in Gmail if you click the "Show details" dropdown next to the addressee/to field (of course the subject/prefix can be edited when composing the email). The reply-to header can simply change who the "replied" email is addressed to - which could be different to who the email was sent from.
    – MrWhite
    Jul 29, 2016 at 16:44

The biggest difference between forward and reply is that forward includes the attachments.

of course if there are no attachments then there is very little difference.

  • Reply has an option to "Include original attachments". So the difference is only the default — forward includes the attachments (you have to remove them if you don't want them), while reply doesn't (you have to include them if you want them). Jul 29, 2016 at 16:35

Reply is an option to send new attachment to same address Forward is an option to pass the same matter to other aaddress is the difference between both.

  • I don't see how this answers the question.
    – Chenmunka
    Jul 31, 2016 at 10:06

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