How to fax with Google – sending, receiving, alternatives, and more
Last Update: August 9th, 2021
There are a number of ways to fax from the Google office suite (Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Drive).
Some options allow users to fax from Google’s programs, while others have the ability to use Google’s file formats to send and receive faxes.
On this page
- Method 1 – Online fax service
- Method 2 – A connected fax machine
- Method 3 – Fax Software
- Method 4 – Printing and faxing (the “old fashioned” way)
- More resources
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 through Gmail as an email – when sending, an email is composed with the main body of the email becoming the cover page, and the attached file converted over to the main part of the fax. When receiving, the fax arrives directly to Gmail as a received email with the received fax attached as a PDF.
Some fax services have further integration with other Google Docs & Drive programs – with this integration, a file can be faxed directly from Google Drive.
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.
Fax software turns your computer into a replacement for a fax machine.
What you’ll need
- Windows (XP, Vista, 7, or 8) or Linux computer (there is no fax modem available for Apple computers)
- Fax modem (either internal or external)
- Land-line phone line (a VoIP phone line will not work)
- Fax software (Windows and Linux both have free offerings)
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.
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.
Can I fax a Google Docs file in its native format?
Usually no. Most fax services and fax software require the file to be faxed to be in a compatible file format, and Google Docs is rarely listed as a compatible.
With a connected fax machine, faxing directly from Google Docs is possible as the faxing occurs by “printing” the fax to the print driver for the connected fax machine.
Is using Google’s services easier or more difficult than other office suites?
The only downside we see to faxing with the Google suite of products is that the Google Docs file format is not compatible with most fax services and fax software. To fax a Google Docs file (even with email) you will usually have to download it as a PDF or Word document first.
Microsoft Office file formats are very compatible with fax services. LibreOffice’s Open Document Format is compatible with a few fax services. Apple’s iWork suite and ZoHo Office suites are compatible with no fax services or software.
Can I send a fax directly from Google applications?
The fax service RingCentral offers a plugin that adds a “send fax” menu to Google Docs. There is also the option to archive old faxes directly to Google Drive.
What is Google’s fax number?
We can find no official fax number on websites owned by Google.
Google publishes a list of their locations on their website. Some locations have phone numbers and may be able to provide a fax number.
Google Product Forums – Fax sending from Google Voice or Gmail – A quick discussion on Google product forums about sending a fax with Google Voice or Gmail. No direct answers, just a bit of frustration over the lack of a feature.