How to fax with Google Drive

LAST UPDATE: August 30th, 2018

There are three ways to fax with Google Drive.

  1. An online fax service (a virtual fax machine accessed through the internet).
  2. A fax machine (or multifunction printer/scanner/fax/copier) that connects to the computer and faxes through a landline phone line.
  3. With software (such as Windows 10’s included “fax and scan” program) which turns the computer into a direct replacement of a hardcopy fax machine.

Method 1 – Online fax services

An online fax service is a virtual fax machine that can send and receive faxes on your behalf. The service provides the fax number (or lets you port your own in), and users can send and receive faxes through email, a web interface, smartphone app, or computer program.

No phone line is needed – only an internet connection.

Most fax services can fax using email. To send a fax, an email is composed. The main body of the email becomes the cover page, and the attached file converted over to the main part of the fax. When receiving, the fax arrives directly to the email as a received email with the received fax attached as a PDF.

Some fax services have further integration with other Google Docs files – with this integration, a file can be faxed directly from Google Drive.

Method 2 – A connected fax machine

Some models of fax machines (or multifunction printers with a fax option) can send faxes.

The fax machine and land-line phone line will need to be connected. From there, you can fax from the computer (connected through a cable or with some models over WiFi or Bluetooth) through the fax machine.

In most cases, faxing can be done through the print driver.

In some cases, there is special software for the fax function that is different from the print function. When special software is used, the document will need to be downloaded from Google Drive (usually as a PDF) then faxed through the fax machine’s software.

Method 3 – Fax Software

Fax software turns your computer into a replacement for a fax machine.

What you’ll need:

Windows comes with Windows Fax and Scan pre-installed since Windows Vista (Windows XP came installed with Fax Console). Linux has some different software packages (including ones that work with enterprise-level fax servers).

Fax software acts and feels very much like an email program (except you are sending to a fax number). With both Windows and Linux, the document would need to be downloaded from Google Drive (often as a PDF) then faxed through the software.

Alternative – Printing and Faxing (the “old fashioned” way)

If none of the above methods work, sometimes the easiest way to fax a Google document is to print it then scan it through a nearby fax machine.

If you need to set one up, we have a page on how to use a fax machine. If you don’t have one nearby, we keep a list of places that might have a fax machine you can use.

Plugins, apps, and adapters

The fax service RingCentral offers a plugin for Google Drive that allows for sending faxes directly from Google Docs. The system also has the ability to archive old faxes to Google Drive.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I send a fax directly from a Google Drive file?

Online fax service: Usually no. Some may have a plugin or addition that will let you fax directly from the file.

Connected fax machine: Yes, as long as you can print the file. Most connected fax machines send a fax using a print driver.

Fax software: Usually no. With most fax software you’ll need to attach the file to the message you’re sending.

Is it easier to fax with Google Drive compared with a different file storage program (OneDrive, Dropbox, or Box)?

Online fax and fax software: Most of the other options will work a little bit better. Many people who use Google Drive also use the Google Docs file formats, which are not compatible with most fax services or fax software.

Connected fax machine: We don’t see a difference between the different options.

Can I fax a Google Drive file in its native format?

Online fax and fax software: Usually no. These methods require file formats to be compatible with the fax service or software. Most do not have compatibility with Google Drive/Docs files.

Connected fax machine: Usually yes. As a print driver is usually used to send a fax with a connected fax machine, any file that can print to a standard paper size (letter, legal, A4) should be able to fax. This includes Google Docs files.

More resources

Houston Chronicle Small BusinessHow to fax to a Gmail account – A very quick walkthrough on how to use Gmail to send a fax. It is mostly a summary of how to sign up for an online fax service.

Google Product ForumsFax sending from Google Voice or GmailI want to send a fax, Multifunction Printer Fax to Email getting picked up as SPAM, and Google is blocking certain emails as SPAM that are not SPAM – Some quick discussions on Google product forums about sending a fax with Google products. No direct answers, just a bit of frustration over the lack of a feature.