April 22, 2024
Learn everything you need to know about sending faxes in 2021. Discover traditional and online faxing methods, choose the appropriate method, and follow our step-by-step guide for successful faxing.


Have you ever been asked to send a fax and felt intimidated by the process? You are not alone. Despite being a common communication method in various industries, faxing is often considered outdated and difficult. However, sending a fax can still be necessary and even advantageous in certain situations, especially when dealing with legal or official documents.

This article aims to provide you with the ultimate guide to sending a fax, from traditional to online methods. We will cover everything you need to know, including setting up a fax machine, troubleshooting common issues, preparing documents, dialing and sending a fax, and following up for confirmation. We will also explore why faxing is still relevant in 2021, compared to alternative communication methods, and provide tips and tricks for successful faxing.

The Ultimate Guide to Sending a Fax: Everything You Need to Know

Before we dive into the details of sending a fax, let’s have a brief history of this communication method.

Brief history of faxing

The first fax machine was invented in the 19th century, and it revolutionized communication by enabling people to send printed images over long distances. The technology has evolved since then, and nowadays, faxing can be done through various methods, including traditional fax machines, online faxing services, and mobile apps.

Types of fax machines and their functions

Traditional fax machines can come in various types and sizes, depending on the intended use. They can be categorized into standalone, desktop, multi-functional, and networked machines. Standalone machines are the simplest and most affordable, while networked machines are more complex and powerful, suitable for large offices.

Multi-functional machines are becoming more popular, as they combine faxing with other features such as printing, scanning, and copying, in a single device. Networked and multi-functional machines often require professional installation and regular maintenance, as they involve complex configurations and connectivity.

How to set up a fax machine

If you decide to use a traditional fax machine, you need to set it up correctly before you can use it. The setup process can differ between models and brands, but generally, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Connect the fax machine to a power source and a phone line.
  2. Fill in the necessary information, such as your phone number and fax header, which appears on top of every fax you send.
  3. Test the machine by sending a fax to a known fax number and verifying whether it goes through correctly.

How to troubleshoot common fax issues

Even after you set up your fax machine, you might encounter some issues when sending or receiving faxes. Some common issues and their solutions include:

  • Busy signal: This indicates that the receiving fax machine is already in use. Try again later or contact the recipient to confirm availability.
  • Line noise: This can cause distortion or disconnection during fax transmission. Check your phone line for interference or try another line.
  • Paper jam: This can happen when the paper feed or output path is obstructed. Open the machine and remove the jammed paper carefully, without tearing it.
  • Poor print quality: This can be caused by low ink or toner levels, dirty or worn-out parts, or incorrect settings. Replace or clean the relevant components and adjust the settings accordingly.

Faxes made easy: A step-by-step guide to sending a fax

Now that you know how to set up and troubleshoot your fax machine, let’s move on to the actual process of sending a fax.

Preparing documents for faxing

Before you can fax a document, you need to make sure it is in the correct format and resolution. Most fax machines can handle standard letter or legal-sized pages, but you should also check for any specific requirements or limitations.

You should also make sure the document is clear and legible, without any smudges, wrinkles, or overlapping text. It’s a good idea to make a photocopy of the document and check it for errors and quality.

If you have a digital copy of the document, you might need to print it out before faxing it, or use a fax service that accepts digital files.

How to dial and send a fax

Once you have your document ready, follow these steps to send it as a fax:

  1. Insert the document into the fax machine, facing down, and align it correctly.
  2. Enter the recipient’s fax number, including the area code and any necessary prefixes, such as ‘1’ for long-distance faxes. Some machines might require you to enter additional information, such as a billing code or a sender’s name.
  3. Press the ‘send’ button or similar, then wait for the machine to dial the number and establish a connection with the recipient’s fax machine.
  4. Once the connection is established, the machine should start sending the document, and you will see a progress indicator on the machine’s display or the printed pages. Be patient and wait for the entire document to be sent.

Confirmation and error-checking

After the fax is sent, you should wait for a confirmation from the recipient’s fax machine, which signals that the document has been received successfully. Some machines might print out a confirmation page or beep to indicate the receipt.

If you do not receive a confirmation within a reasonable time, you might want to check whether the recipient’s fax number is correct, the recipient’s machine is turned on and ready, or there are any technical issues on either end.

Follow-up and re-sending

If the fax is urgent or critical, you might want to follow up with the recipient after sending the fax, to confirm whether they have received it and verify the contents. You can also consider sending a backup fax or using a different method of communication, such as email or phone.

If the fax is unsuccessful or rejected for any reason, such as a busy signal or a poor line quality, you might want to try re-sending it later, or use a different method or machine.

From machine to email: 5 ways to send a fax in 2021

While traditional fax machines are still widely used, especially in certain industries such as healthcare and finance, they are no longer the only or the most convenient way to send a fax. In this section, we will explore five methods of sending a fax in 2021, using online services, email, mobile apps, scanner software, and hybrid machines.

Online fax services

Online fax services are web-based platforms that allow you to send and receive faxes without a physical fax machine. They work by converting your digital documents into faxable formats, such as TIFF or PDF, then transmitting them to the recipient’s fax machine or email address, depending on their preference.

Some advantages of online fax services include:

  • Low cost: Most online fax services offer affordable plans with flexible pricing and no setup costs or long-term commitments.
  • Convenience: You can send and receive faxes from anywhere, as long as you have internet access, without worrying about hardware maintenance or phone lines.
  • Integration: Many online fax services offer integrations with popular productivity tools such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and Microsoft Office, allowing you to streamline your workflow and save time.

Some popular online fax services and their features include:

  • eFax: Offers a free trial and plans starting from $16.95/month for 150 pages. Supports file types such as PDF, Word, Excel, and JPG, and provides mobile apps for iOS and Android.
  • MyFax: Offers a 30-day free trial and plans starting from $10/month for 100 pages. Supports file types such as PPT, HTML, and TXT, and provides integrations with Microsoft Outlook and Office 365.
  • FaxZero: Offers a free plan with a maximum of 3 pages per fax (2 faxes per day) or a premium plan starting from $1.99/fax for up to 25 pages. Supports most file types and provides a simple interface for quick faxing.
  • RingCentral: Offers a free trial and plans starting from $19.99/month for 750 pages. Supports file types such as PNG, BMP, and TIFF, and provides integrations with Salesforce, Zendesk, and Box.

Some disadvantages of online fax services include the following:

  • Security: As with any digital service, online faxing can pose security risks if not properly managed. You need to ensure that your documents and personal information are protected from theft, hacking, or unauthorized access.
  • Reliability: While online faxing is generally fast and efficient, it can still suffer from technical issues such as server downtime, network congestion, or compatibility problems with some devices or software.
  • Legacy support: Some older fax machines or systems might not be compatible with online fax services, or might require additional configurations and fees, depending on the provider.

Fax via email

Another way to send a fax without a physical machine is to use your email client. Most email services such as Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, or Apple Mail support faxing by converting your email text and attachments into faxable formats and transmitting them to the recipient’s fax number or email address.

To send a fax via email, you need to follow these general steps:

  1. Create a new email message, addressed to the recipient’s fax number or email address, depending on the provider.
  2. Attach the document you want to fax, in a supported file format such as PDF, TIFF, or Microsoft Office.
  3. Add a cover page or header, if desired, which includes your name, phone number, and other relevant information.
  4. Send the message, and wait for a confirmation or a delivery report.

Some advantages of fax via email include:

  • No additional software or service required: You can use your existing email account to send and receive faxes, without having to subscribe to a separate online service or install any software.
  • Familiar interface and features: If you are already familiar with email messaging, you can use the same features such as formatting, drafting, and sending, for faxing as well.
  • Flexibility: You can access your email and fax messages from any device or location, as long as you have internet access and a compatible email client.

Some disadvantages of fax via email include the following:

  • File size limitations: Most email clients have file size limitations, which can affect the number and quality of documents you can send as a fax. You might need to split large or complex documents into multiple parts, or use a compression tool to reduce the file size.
  • Formatting issues: Some documents might lose their formatting or appearance when converted to faxable formats, especially if they contain graphics, tables, or color. You need to ensure that your document is adapted for faxing, without sacrificing its readability or accuracy.
  • Not free: While using your email to send a fax is often more affordable than traditional methods, it can still incur additional fees or charges, depending on your email provider and the recipient’s fax machine or service.

Faxing through mobile apps

Mobile apps can offer another convenient and flexible way to send and receive faxes, as they allow you to use your smartphone or tablet as a fax machine. Many online fax services and email providers offer mobile apps for iOS and Android devices, which provide similar features and functionalities as their desktop counterparts.

To send a fax through a mobile app, you need to download and install the app on your device, then follow the prompts to set it up and connect it to your account. Once the app is ready, you can use it to scan or upload documents, add cover pages or annotations, and send them as faxes to the desired recipient.

Some advantages of faxing through mobile apps include:

  • Portability: You can send and receive faxes on the go, without having to carry a physical fax machine or use a computer.
  • Integration: Many mobile fax apps integrate with other productivity tools and cloud services, such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and Evernote, allowing you to access and sync your documents across devices.
  • Accessibility: You can use the same app to manage your faxes, contacts, and settings, all in one place, without having to switch between different platforms or logins.

Some disadvantages of faxing through mobile apps include the following:

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