How to receive a fax using a computer, fax machine, or online

LAST UPDATE: April 8th, 2018

With many people still using fax to communicate, it is important to know how to receive a fax.

These days, there are two ways to receive a fax – either through a fax machine or over an online fax service. We will detail both methods here.

Receiving a fax with an online fax service

With fax becoming less of a common method of communicating, many people are moving to an online fax service for their faxing.

An online fax service offers some the same features that a fax machine provides, with the added benefit of being able to fax online, wherever you have an internet connection.

If you already have an online fax service, then use the following quick guide to receiving a fax:

  1. Sign up for the online fax service. You will be provided with a fax number (alternatively, some will let you port an existing fax number to their service).
  2. Give your fax number to someone to send you a fax. To test the service you can see our page on how to test a fax.
  3. When someone faxes you, you’ll receive a copy of the fax as a PDF attachment to an email.
  4. You can also access received faxes on the fax service’s online interface, desktop software, or smartphone app.

Receiving a fax with a fax machine

To receive a fax with a fax machine your fax machine will need to be properly configured.

We have put together a full guide on how to use a fax machine to help ensure that your fax machine is properly configured, as well as certain settings that you may need to consider.

Once your fax is on and configured, then you will be ready to receive your fax.

To automatically receive a fax with your fax machine:

  1. Set up your fax machine
  2. Give your fax number to someone to send you a fax. Alternatively, we have other ways to test a fax
  3. When the fax line rings, the fax machine will answer the fax automatically and print the fax

To manually receive a fax with your fax machine:

  1. Set up your fax machine
  2. Give your fax number to someone to send you a fax. Alternatively, we have other ways to test a fax
  3. When the fax line rings, press receive. The fax machine will answer and print the fax.
  4. If you answer the phone instead of the fax machine, you can sometimes still press “receive” on the fax while the phone line is open.

Receiving a fax with a computer

Most computers these days have the ability to double as a fax machine.

While the use of an online fax service when using a computer as a fax is the more popular option, some people still use their computer as a direct replacement for a fax machine that typically sits on a desk.

We have put together a full guide to enabling and configuring fax services on your computer, including Windows XP, Vista, and 7, 8, 10, as well as Mac OSX and Linux operating systems.

If you already have fax software installed on your computer, then usually the process of sending a fax with a computer goes as follows:

To automatically receive a fax:

  1. Open the program you want to use to receive the fax
  2. Wait for the fax line to ring.
  3. When the line rings, the fax software will automatically answer and receive the fax.
  4. Most fax software will receive the fax electronically. You can print your faxes later on.

To manually receive a fax:

  1. Open the program you want to use to receive the fax
  2. Wait for the fax line to ring.
  3. When the line rings, there should be a button that says “answer fax.” Press it.
  4. The fax software will answer the line and receive the fax.
  5. The fax will be received electronically. It can then be printed.