What is an email fax? Definition, usage, synonyms, and history

LAST UPDATE: July 10th, 2017

An email fax is a system that allows users to either send or receive a fax through email (sometimes the system can both send and receive, sometimes a system can only send or only receive).

Email faxing is a feature that is available in some internet fax systems. All email fax systems are a type of internet fax, however not all internet fax systems work through email (some only operate through a web interface or their own software).

Three ways to email fax

Through an online fax service – most online fax services have a feature of being able to send and receive faxes through email. This can be set up simply by signing up for the service.

Through a fax server – used in enterprise level applications, a fax server can be configured to give employees access to fax through email. This would be set up through an organization’s IT department.

Through a fax machine enabled with fax to email (and / or email to fax) – some fax machines (often business level machines) can send and receive faxes through email.

Difference between email fax and…

Online fax

An email fax is a feature available in an online fax service or system.

While most online fax services have email fax as a feature, not all of them do. As well, depending on the fax system, some may have only an option to send or receive.

Internet fax

An email fax is a feature available in an internet fax system.

Most email fax systems are a type of internet fax system, but not all internet fax systems have email fax as a feature.

Internet fax encompass a wide variety of terms – from online fax services to enterprise level fax servers to fax machines that operate through the T.38 fax over internet standard.

The only types of email fax that would not be an internet fax would be a fax machine that forwards a fax through to email – the transmission to the fax machine is a regular fax transmission, then the fax turns that transmission into a PDF or TIFF document to attach to an email.

Web fax

A web fax is a feature available in some internet fax and most online fax systems.

While web access and email fax are separate features the are available inside of internet and online fax systems, they are normally standard features.

Voip fax


eFax is a brand of online fax service. It is sometimes used as a term for an online fax service, however the term is trademarked.

eFax as well as most online fax services have email faxing as a feature.

PC fax / Mac Fax

The terms “PC fax” and “Mac fax” are typically used when a PC or Mac computer has software installed on them as well as a fax modem.

This software and hardware turn the computer into a replacement for a desktop fax machine – in this situation, an active phone line is still needed to send and receive faxes.