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How To Bounce Email in Mail

Updated on September 21, 2008

This article is being written for Mac users. More specifically, those who use Mail. If you're on a PC, I'm sure there's a way for you to bounce email as well, but this isn't it, and I can't tell you what is. Right, now that we've got that cleared up, let's talk about what bouncing actually is: In the simplest terms possible, bouncing an email simply means rejecting it. It's not the same thing as junking it, however -- when you bounce an email, you are actually sending it back to the person who sent it to you.

Why Would You Want To Bounce An Email?

  • Harassment. I've only ever bounced a couple of emails -- two, if I remember correctly -- and I bounced them because they were coming from men who simply didn't get what the phrase, "stop writing to me" meant. This is actually one of the best solutions you could choose, because the sender will simply think you're email server is screwing up -- as opposed to thinking you're deliberately rejecting their emails.

  • Buying Time. Got a boss who wants to know what's up with you missing your deadline? If you're slimey enough, you may choose to bounce those emails and then pretend your email server ate your homework. (You will get bad juju for this, just so's you know.)

  • Being Passive Aggressive. Maybe you're the type of guy who likes to give your girlfriend the silent treatment when you're ticked off at her. If you're particularly schmuckish, you could always bounce her heartfelt pleadings. Don't forget to pretend you have no idea why she's so angry the next time you see her. (And don't forget to wear a cup.)

  • Insert Random Reason Here. There are plenty of other reasons one might bounce an email. If you feel like you have one, well, there you go, then.

How To Bounce An Email

So... how do you actually do it? It's pretty simple:

  1. Open Mail
  2. Highlight the email in question.
  3. DON'T READ IT or you won't be able to bounce it.
  4. Right click on the highlighted email.
  5. Select bounce.
  6. Confirm it.

And that's it! When you do bounce it, the sender will get some kind of message saying that your mailbox doesn't exist, or that the user is unknown, etc. You can test that for yourself by sending/bouncing an email from/to your own account.


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    • plug2www profile image

      plug2www 6 years ago from

      Does it work on Outlook?

    • profile image

      tesa007 6 years ago

      I tried this too and failed. I press command and click the email, but nothing popped out and no choices given to me.

    • profile image

      Sam 7 years ago

      Your reasons to bounce e-mail is very sophomoric and unprofessional. You should highlight the reason to bounce e-mail is to fight against spammers.

    • profile image

      Benasi 7 years ago

      I have been following the instructions as per above. But after testing the recipient doesn't get the failed or non delivered message response. Has anyone tested it or experienced this issue before. It message definitely leaves the mail but as i mentioned it doesn't send a failed response on my behalf

    • profile image

      Stephanie 7 years ago

      Martin - I've had no problem highlighting (not opening) the email subject line, ctrl-clicking on the e-mail, and bouncing.

    • profile image

      Martin 8 years ago


      I use hotmail on Leopard through Safari. I do not have 'right click' on my mouse but, I believe holding control does the same thing. You cannot highlight the e-mail. If click on it, it opens, if you tick the box while holding control then you are presented with a list of options but 'bounce' is not one of them. Can anyone explain, please, how to bounce a hotmail e-mail?

      Thanks, Martin

    • profile image

      jamesquine 8 years ago

      What a fantastic tip. I have an old girl friend who REALLY wants to stay in touch and be friends. The problem is I don't have female friends - always creates problems for someone happily married like me. But the girl won't take my request to not contact me seriously. I can't blame her for not understanding. This bounce secret is perfect. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    • Woody Marx profile image

      Woody Marx 9 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I will send this to my brother who has Macs in his office. I'm sure it will be helpful! :)

    • adyesha profile image

      adyesha 9 years ago from Bhubaneswar

      Excellent information for Mac users. This will prevent spammers/unwanted mails.

      Great Work pal.