How to fax a PDF (send a PDF to a fax number or machine)

There are four main ways to fax a PDF: Through an online fax service, fax software, a fax machine that allows you to fax from your computer, or the “old fashioned way” of printing the PDF off and sending it through a fax machine.faxing a pdf

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Method 1: Online fax service

An online fax service will let you fax a PDF very much the same way that you attach an email to a document.

What you’ll need

Sending a fax – through email

Most online fax services allow a user to send a fax through email. The PDF is attached.

The main body of the email becomes the cover sheet, and the email address is the fax number @ the email provider’s domain (for example [email protected]).

The online fax service converts all the information over to fax and sends it to the recipient’s fax machine.

Sending a fax – through the online system

Most online fax providers also have an online system that functions very much like a webmail program – the user logs onto the system (or accesses it through a software program installed on a computer).

The cover page information and fax number to send it are filled out, and the PDF document is uploaded to the system.

The fax service does all the work of combining the information and sending the document to a fax machine.

Things to note

  • With a fax service, there is no need to leave the computer on to send or receive a fax – the fax service manages all the fax infrastructure.
  • If a fax encounters as a busy signal or a fax number without a fax machine, the fax service will email the sender letting them know the fax did not go through.
  • An online fax service is accessible from different computers, smartphones, and tablets (anywhere an email address is available).

Method 2: Fax software

Fax software is available for Windows PCs (XP, Vista, 7, and 8) and Linux computers. Mac OS X, regrettably, does not currently have a functioning fax modem that works with versions newer than OS X 10.7.

With Windows PCs, the operating system includes Windows Fax and Scan (or Fax Console on Windows XP) for free. There is also other 3rd party software available.

What you’ll need

  • A PDF document
  • A Windows PC or Linux computer with fax software installed on it
  • A fax modem for the computer – either internal or USB
  • An active land-line phone line (VoIP phone lines or a simple internet connection will not work)

How to send a fax

Most software needs to be set up and configured, as well as the land line phone line attached to the fax modem.

With fax software, faxes are sent very much like an email – the information for the cover page is filled in, the fax number entered, and the PDF uploaded or attached.

The software assembles the information and faxes it to the receiving fax machine when the “send” button is pressed.

Things to note

  • The computer needs always to be on and the software program active to be able to receive a fax this way.
  • This method has all the challenges of a traditional fax machine such as the line being interrupted or call quality issues.
  • Only a landline phone line will work for this approach. Only an internet connection or a VoIP (internet-based) phone will not work.

Method 3: Fax machine or connected multifunction printer with fax from computer capability

Some fax machines and multifunction printers with fax capability will allow faxing through the machine from a computer without having to print and re-scan the document.

The steps mentioned here don’t apply to all fax and multifunction machines – only models that have this functionality.

What you’ll need

  • A PDF document
  • A fax machine or multifunction printer (print / copy / scan / fax) that will let you fax from the computer.
  • An active land-line phone line (to plug the fax machine into)

How to send a fax

The fax machine / multifunction printer will need to be set up and connected to the landline phone line, as well as the manufacturer’s software installed on the computer.

While the method varies by manufacturer and model, the steps would be:

Open the fax program and load the PDF to be sent as a fax, or open the print driver for the fax machine inside the PDF program

Enter the details of where the fax is going (cover page information as well as fax number).

Press send.

Things to be aware of

  • The fax machine still needs an active land-line phone connection to work. A VoIP phone line (or only an internet connection) will not work.
  • With this method, the fax machine is forwarding the message to or from the phone network.

Method 4: Print it out and fax it (the old fashioned way)

The “old fashioned” way of printing the PDF out and faxing it is a tried and true alternative.

This method also works the opposite way – when a printed fax arrives, it is scanned back into the computer.

What you’ll need

  • A PDF Document
  • A printer
  • A working fax machine

How to send the fax

  1. Print out the PDF
  2. Take the printed PDF and put it into the document feeder on the fax machine
  3. Send it to the fax number

Things to be aware of

Image quality of both the sent and received fax is not as good as it would be through sending or receiving the fax through a computer. This is because of the loss of quality from the extra scan involved.

Sources and External Resources

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