How to fax with Microsoft Outlook

LAST UPDATE: April 8th, 2018

There are two ways to fax with Microsoft Outlook:

  1. An online fax service (a virtual fax machine accessed through the internet).
  2. A fax machine (or multifunction printer/scanner/fax/copier) that connects to the computer and faxes through a landline phone line. This method uses the print driver instead of email.

Popular alternatives are fax software or printing the document and faxing it using a traditional fax machine.

Option 1 – Online fax service

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.

Outlook - how to send a fax with an online fax service
An online fax service can send (and receive) a fax from Outlook’s email interface.
Once you are registered with a service, you can email their fax server. Faxes will automatically be received and forwarded to your email address.

Most fax services can fax through Outlook as an email. To send a fax, 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 Outlook as a received email with the received fax attached as a PDF.

Option 2 – A connected fax machine

Some models of fax machines (or multifunction printers with a fax option) can send faxes from a print driver or computer program.

A connected fax machine will only work with Outlook by using the “File – Print” function. Documents faxed this way are typically send and received through the print driver interface.

The fax machine will need to be connected to a land-line phone line. 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.

Each connected fax machine or multifunction printer with fax has different instructions. Some may have mild Outlook integration, however most will send with via the print driver.

Alternative 1 – Fax software

Fax software turns your computer into a replacement for a fax machine. While there is no direct integration with Outlook, it will be able to send many of the same documents Outlook can send.

What you’ll need:

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). While Windows Fax and Scan does not automatically update contacts from Outlook, they can be imported.

With a Linux computers, faxing is done very much the same way as Windows computers. However, Microsoft Outlook is not directly compatible with the platform.

Alternative 2 – Printing and faxing (the “old fashioned” way)

If none of the above methods work, sometimes the easiest way to fax an Outlook document is to simply print it then scan it through a nearby fax machine. We keep a list of places to send a fax that might be available nearby.

Plugins, apps, and adapters

Outlook generally integrates well with other programs. Of all email platforms it has the most extra options available for it.

Frequently asked questions

Can I send a fax from Outlook?

Yes, you can send a fax from Outlook using an online fax service or by printing to a connected fax machine.

Can I receive a fax to Outlook?

Yes, you can receive a fax to Outlook using an online fax service or having a connected fax machine enabled with a fax-to-email feature (this feature is typically found on corporate-level devices).

Can I connect Outlook to a fax machine?

Not directly. You can, however, print from Outlook to a connected fax machine/printer. You can also set up some fax machines to forward a fax to email (this feature is typically found on corporate-level devices).

Can my fax machine forward my faxes to Outlook?

If the fax machine has fax-to-email or the ability to forward a fax to email enabled.

Are there any online fax services compatible with Outlook?

Most online fax services are compatible with any email address.

Is it easier to fax using Outlook compared with a different email system?

No, there are no extra features with Outlook (compared with a different email system) that make faxing better.

The Microsoft Office file format is well supported with fax services.

Can I fax documents such as Adobe PDF or Microsoft Word through Outlook?

Fax service: Yes. File restrictions are dependent on the fax service you are using, not the type of email address. PDF and Word (.doc or .docx) formats are two of the most popular formats.

Connected fax machine: Yes. With connected fax machines (and printers) the file format is less important than with a fax service as the print process converts the file to a fax format, while with a fax service the fax service converts the file to a fax format. In theory, a connected fax machine should be able to fax any file that can be printed to a standard paper size (letter, legal, A4).

Sources and more resources

Fax Authority – How to Fax from a Microsoft Windows PC (XP, Vista, 7, 8, and 10), Microsoft Office (and Office 365), Microsoft Outlook (2016, 2013, and 2010), Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Hotmail – our pages with instructions how to send or a receive a fax with various Microsoft products and services. Each page includes a step-by-step walkthrough of different methods to fax.

Microsoft Office SupportInstall the Windows Fax driver or service to use Internet Fax in Office – Instructions on how to enable (or disable) Microsoft fax service Windows Fax and Scan for use with Microsoft Office.

Microsoft Office SupportPrint a page or part of an email message and Printing messages – Instructions on how to print an email from Outlook. The print driver is often used when faxing with a connected fax machine.

AZ CentralHow to send a fax through Outlook – a quick how to list on sending a fax with Microsoft Outlook from AZ Central.