How to Send or Receive a fax from a Windows Vista PC

There are three primary ways to fax with Windows Vista.

The first is with an online fax service, which operates as a fax machine located on and accessed through the internet.

The first is through Windows Vista’s bundled software “Windows Fax and Scan,” which turns your computer into a direct replacement of a hardcopy fax machine.

The third is through Windows Vista’s bundled software “Windows Fax and Scan,” which turns your computer into a direct replacement of a hardcopy fax machine.

This page details how to go about setting either method up, and provides a comparison between the two as well as suggestions to who each method is better suited to.

Table of Contents

Online Fax Services Compatible with Windows Vista

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

Compared with Windows Fax and Scan (or a fax machine), an online fax service offers the ability to fax directly from the internet without a dedicated 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 much similar to a web-based email account (with the exception that you have the ability to 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 compatible with Windows Vista and other operating systems, see our page on Online Faxing.

Fax through a connected fax or multifunction (copy / print / scan / fax) printer

Many connected fax and multifunction printer have the option to fax through the machine from the computer.

While specific options depend on the fax machine’s manufacturer (and the software they offer), many units are able to send and receive faxes directly to the computer through the fax machine. Instead of having to print a document and then fax it (or receive a document over the fax then scan it), connecting a fax machine this way will let you send and receive faxes from the computer.

What you’ll need

To send an receive a fax from a Windows Vista computer through a connected fax or printer with fax, you’ll need the following:

  • A computer running Windows Vista
  • A fax machine or multifunction (print / copy / scan / fax) printer that can fax from the computer
  • An active land-line phone line to connect the fax / mutlifunction printer to. The phone line should not be a VoIP phone connection as VoIP signals usually scramble a fax signal – for more details on faxing with VoIP, see our page on “why does my fax machine not work on my VoIP phone line?
  • A document to send

Things to be aware of

  • You will still need to connect the fax or multifunction printer to an active land-line phone line for this to work
  • A fax or mutlifunction printer with “wireless” (such as wifi or bluetooth) does not allow you to send and receive faxes without a phone line – the “wireless” portion of the fax / printer is only for communication between the computer and the printer – not between the fax / printer and the phone system. A “wireless” fax / printer cannot connect wirelessly to the internet to be able to send and receive faxes.
  • When setting the system up, double check to see what happens with received faxes when the computer is not active. Some models will store a received fax in the fax / printer’s memory until the computer is reconnected – the challenge with this approach is that if the power is lost, any stored faxes (that have already been acknowledged as received) may be lost as well.

Fax from Windows Vista with Windows Fax and Scan

Windows Vista contains software already includes the ability to fax from your computer.

For detailed instructions of how to configure and operate Windows Fax and Scan in Windows Vista, it is exactly the same as doing the same in Windows 7.

Sources and Additional Resources on Windows Vista Faxing:

Other Resources on Computer and Online Faxing: