How to Fax from a Computer in 2019

LAST UPDATE: March 15th, 2019

There are three ways to fax from a computer:

  • An online fax service
  • Fax software
  • A connected fax machine

Option #1 – Fax from a computer with an online fax service

An online fax service is a dedicated fax number hosted by a service provider.

You can access an online fax service from your computer, smartphone, or web browser. The interface is very similar to a webmail email account such as Gmail or Hotmail.

Send and receive faxes via:

Common file formats:

Online fax – What you’ll need

    1. A subscription to an online fax service. Most are free for the first month then $8-15 per month for 200-300 pages of faxing.
    2. A computer or smartphone. You can access an online fax service via an email address, web browser, app, or computer software.

Online fax  Step 1: Draft your fax

If sending a fax by email: Open a new email and attach the documents you want to fax. Microsoft Word and PDF are the most common file attachment formats, and others such as Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, Open Office, and Image files are compatible.

The body of the email will become the body of your cover page. Details such as your address and contact information are placed automatically on the cover page.

If sending via the web or an app: Open a new fax and import the documents you want to attach. The process is very similar to drafting an email.

Online fax Step 2: Enter the recipient’s fax number

If sending by email: Enter the “to” address of the email as [the recipient’s fax number]@[fax service’s domain].

If sending via the web or an app: Enter the destination fax number.

Online fax Step 3: Send and wait for confirmation

Send the email. The fax service will take the information in the email and dial the fax on your behalf.

Once the fax has completed, you will receive an email with a confirmation page including the date and time of the transmission.

If the fax doesn’t go through, then you will receive an email with details of the attempt. Typical examples for a fax not completing are a busy fax signal or the wrong number.

Option #2 – Fax from a computer using fax software

A Windows PC already has free fax software (Windows Fax and Scan) installed.

Linux computers have a variety of fax software available.

Mac computers have no fax software available. They can only fax via an online fax service or connected fax machine.

Fax Software – What you’ll need

  1. A computer with fax software installed. Windows PCs have Windows Fax and Scan installed. Linux users will need to install a fax program.
  2. An active landline phone line. A VoIP phone or internet phone won’t work.
  3. A fax modem installed on your desktop computer or laptop.

Fax Software Step 1 – Set up the phone line, fax modem, and fax software

Phone line: You will need an active landline phone line. A VoIP phone line or internet phone will not reliably carry a fax signal.

Fax modem: Your modem can be internal or external (USB). Plug a USB fax modem into the computer and it will install all necessary software once. Connect the fax modem to the landline phone line with a telephone cord.

Fax software: Windows computers already have a copy of Windows Fax and Scan. Other software packages are available for Windows. Linux desktop users will need to select from a variety of software packages. MacOS users do not have fax software available.

Fax Software Step 2 – Draft your fax

Windows Fax and Scan looks very much like an email program. Sending a fax is done in a similar way to sending an email.

Open a new fax and attach your documents to send. There will be fields for the cover page, name of the recipient, and other transmission data.

Fax Software Step 3 – Send and wait for confirmation

Press “send” and the fax software will dial the recipient’s fax number.

Estimate the fax transmission to take 1 minute per page.

The fax software will produce a confirmation page for your records when the transmission completes.

If the fax does not go through, you will receive an explanation (the most common examples are the recipient’s fax line is busy, or your fax modem is not working).

Option #3 – Fax from a computer using a connected fax machine or printer

Many printers and photocopiers already have fax capability.

Commercial grade photocopiers and multifunction printers will have an optional fax kit that will enable fax.

Connected fax – What you’ll need

  1. A fax machine or a multifunction printer/copier with fax enabled. Many commercial-grade photocopiers have an optional fax kit .
  2. An active landline phone line. A VoIP (internet) phone line will not work.

Compatible file formats: Any file format will work. As the fax happens via the print driver, the file has to fit into a letter (8 1/2″ x 11″) or A4 sized piece of paper.

Connected fax – Step 1 – Set up and connect the fax machine

First, set up the fax machine following the steps in the owner’s manual. The setup steps for a multifunction printer with fax are very similar to setting up a standalone fax machine.

Next, connect the fax machine to your active landline phone line. A VoIP phone line will not work.

Last, install the connected fax machine’s software and print drivers on your computer.

Connected fax -Step 2 -Prepare your document

Open the document you want to fax.

Unlike an online fax service or fax software, most connected fax machines will not “assemble” multiple documents into one fax.

Some connected fax machines will automatically create a cover page for the document. With others, you’ll need to add a cover page to the start of the file.

You may need to assemble multiple documents into a PDF file.

Connected fax – Step 3- Send by “Printing” the document to the fax machine

Open the print function (“File -> Print” on most computers) and select the connected fax machine.

The print driver will have options for the fax, including the recipient’s fax number.

When you press send, the fax machine will connect to the phone line and dial the recipient’s fax number.

The fax machine will print a confirmation page or your computer will receive a notice when the fax completes.

Conclusion

Every year more fax volume moves to a computer-based platform. Connected fax machines, online fax services, and fax software are all common methods of fax in today’s business world.

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