How to fax without a fax machine
Last Update: August 9th, 2021
There are five ways to fax without a fax machine:
- An online fax service (a virtual fax machine accessed through the internet).
- 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.
- Adding a fax board to an existing printer or multifunction printer/scanner/copier
- An enterprise fax server
- Find a store that has a fax machine you can use.
Option 1 – Online fax service
An online fax service is a dedicated fax number that is hosted by a service provider.
Compared with fax software (or a fax machine), an online fax service offers the ability to fax directly from the Internet without a dedicated landline phone line in your house, as well as the ability to access or manage fax communications from anywhere you can access the internet.
Interfaces are very similar to a web-based email account (with the exception that you can send and receive faxes), and features such as faxing through email, the web, and integration with popular programs such as the Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel, Outlook, etc.) are available.
Online fax services can also be combined with other devices – for example faxing to and from another computer, a tablet, or a smartphone through the same account.
For full details on online fax services, see our page on Online Faxing.
Option 2 – Fax software
Fax software turns your computer into a replacement for a fax machine.
What you’ll need:
- Windows (XP, Vista, 7, 8, or 10) or Linux computer (there is no fax modem available for Apple computers)
- A 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 enterprise-level fax servers).
With a Windows computer, faxing is done by opening the program, composing a fax, attaching the Office document, and sending it (it works very much like an email program).
With a Linux computers, faxing is done very much the same way as Windows computers.
Option 3 – Adding a fax kit to an existing printer
Some multifunction printers can have a fax board or fax kit added as a feature. This turns the multifunction printer into a part time fax machine.
Usually fax kits are only available on larger corporate level devices. A home office / small office printer purchased from a retail store will not have this option available.
Once the fax kit is installed, you’ll be able to use the multifunction printer as a fax machine. The scanner of the multifunction unit becomes the scanner for the fax, and faxes are printed the same way that prints and copies are printed. See more on setup on our page “how to use a fax machine.”
To have a fax kit installed on an existing printer, contact a local office equipment company that services the multifunction printer.
Option 4 – Enterprise fax server
An enterprise fax server is very similar to an online fax service. Instead of being hosted by a separate provider, it is hosted by an organization for use of its employees.
Enterprise fax servers are usually set up and managed by an IT department, even if an outside provider operates the fax server.
Option 5 – Find a store that has a fax machine you can use
Many stores such as copy/print stores have fax machines that can be used by the public on a charge basis. We keep a list of places that commonly have fax machines on our page “where can I send a fax“