How To Send And Receive Faxes Online

While fax machines are, slowly but surely, going the way of the dodo, the same can’t quite be said for the need to send a fax itself. Yes, even in the twenty-first century, when our phones are now smarter than last year’s desktops, being able to send a fax is still important and sometimes even necessary. For example, if you need to send someone a signed document — your landlord, let’s say — email alone just isn’t going to suffice. Sure there are email-friendly “electronic signature” options available, but the technology still isn’t quite where it needs to be, and for official documents (house deeds, court papers, contracts, etc.) most venues won’t accept anything less than a pen-on-paper signature.

Okay, so we’ve established the need for fax services, but surely there’s easier, better and more cost-effective methods of sending a fax than the old approach (purchasing a fax machine, adding an additional phone line, setting it up, figuring out how it works, and so on), right? As it turns out: Yes, there are quite a few better approaches actually. Below I’ll highlight a few of the better options.

First up though: if you’re opting out of a fax machine, nine-times-out-of-ten you’re still going to need some equipment. More precisely, you’re going to want a.) a printer and b.) a scanner, but more conveniently c.) an all-in-one, multi-function scanner/printer. You’ll need a printer for faxes you receive (that you need to print and sign) and the scanner for documents you need to send (for example, that document you just signed). Personally, I recommend taking the scanner-printer hybrid approach as it’s both cheaper (than buying both separately) and makes everything else much easier. Plus it saves room. You can find high-quality models at your local retailers for somewhere around $100. (And, of course, having both a printer and scanner is much, much more useful and versatile than a fax machine ever was.)

Sending Faxes Without a Fax Machine

Let’s start with sending a fax. First, you’ll need to scan the document and save it onto your computer. If you have a PDF converter that’ll be easiest, but if not then just save your scanned documents as individual images. Then copy and paste each saved image into a word document, so that each “scanned page” takes up one “real page” on the document. (Note: Some services will allow you to skip this step and upload the scanned images without inserting them into a word document.) Okay, so you have the file ready to fax, now what?

The easiest method is to sign up with one of the many online fax services currently offered. If this is a onetime affair I’d recommend Fax1, a fax service that charges you by the fax at $0.12 a page. Simply sign up, upload your document, and they do the rest. Easy. If you need to send faxes more regularly though, it’ll be more cost-effective to use a monthly or yearly fax service. MaxEmail, for example, costs $24 a year and does pretty much everything.

However, if the idea of paying to fax something is unattractive to you, there are also plenty of free routes too. They’re just not as simple or easy. In my experience, the best of the free services is FaxZero as it allows you to send up to two, three-page max faxes each day without charge. There is one catch, however: they add an advertisement on the cover letter of every fax they send — though for $2 they’ll remove the ad (and let you send 15 pages at a time).

Receiving Faxes Without a Fax Machine

If you decided to use one of the pay services outlined above, you can skip this step: they all cover both sending and receiving. The free services, however, don’t. As such, I’ll go over the best free online services for receiving a fax: FaxDigits. Just sign up, they’ll assign you a fax number and then any fax sent to that number will be converted into a PDF and emailed to you — for free! Not bad if you ask me.

And I think that about covers it. There’s a third option I didn’t cover which uses your computer’s pre-installed fax software, but a.) it’s different for every computer and b.) your modem needs to be dial-up friendly and hooked up to a working phone line for it to work. And it does work, but in the opinion of this blogger at least it’s both harder and less cost-effective than the other options detailed above.

Oh, and as a last-ditch resort: you can always use FedEx/Kinkos to send faxes too.