Free Fax Software
I want to send a fax, but I don't have a fax machine. Can I use fax software on my computer to send or receive a fax? If so, what free fax software is available for Windows? I have a laptop with Vista and XP at home.
Free Fax Software Options
Despite all of the e-mailing, texting and other types of online file sending, sometimes you still have just got to use the fax. Faxing remains a widely used form of data transmission, especially when sending legal or sensitive documents. Everyone knows that if you want to send or receive a fax, you usually use a fax machine. That's the old-school hardware method. But there are a host of software-based options for faxing, and some are even free!
Free Fax Software For Windows XP
For instance, Windows XP has built-in faxing capability. That's right, with XP all that's required to set up faxing is a good old-fashioned phone line and a modem. Faxing in XP can be installed from the Control Panel using the "Add Windows Components" option. The component is called Fax Services.
Once installed, the Fax Configuration Wizard provides an easy step-by-step interface that will assist in setting up a fax cover page, enabling send as well as receive and setting up the fax header information (also known as Transmitting Subscriber Identification or TSID). To start the Fax Configuration Wizard, click Start / All Programs / Accessories / Communications / Fax, then click Fax Console.In most cases, you can fax directly from the application that created the document. Select File / Print, then under Select Printer, click Fax instead of a regular printer. The Send Fax Wizard will appear, prompting you for the recipient's fax number, and the cover page info.
So what what about incoming faxes? In the Fax Configuration Wizard, you have the option to automatically answer, or answer manually. If you choose to automatically receive faxes, your fax modem will answer the fax line after the specified number of rings, receive the incoming fax, and store it in the Fax Console. If you choose to manually answer fax calls, you'll need to open the Fax Console, click File, then click Receive a fax now. The Fax Monitor will appear and waits for incoming faxes. If you don't have a dedicated phone line for faxes, you'll probably want to go with the Manual Answer method, and just turn on the Fax Console when you're expecting an incoming fax. Otherwise, regular voice callers will be greeted with those awful screeching fax tones.
Free Faxing With Windows Vista
Faxing is also made simple in Windows Vista. What's not so simple is sorting out just what version of Vista has in-the-box faxing capabilities. Vista's Windows Fax and Scan service is available in the Business, Ultimate and Enterprise editions of Vista. But the Fax feature is NOT available in the Home Basic, Home Premium, or 64-bit versions of Vista.
However, with the versions of Vista that do come with the fax service, sending a fax is easy, especially with Microsoft Office documents. Simply open up the document you want to fax and select File / Print. The Fax Setup Wizard will guide you in configuring fax settings. After configuration, just click "Send" to send your fax. Make sure your phone line is connected to the modem first! (If you have two phone jacks on your modem, plug the line from the wall into the one labeled LINE, then plug your phone into the one labeled PHONE.)
Scanned documents can also be faxed. However, documents sent directly from Office will appear crisper to the recipient's fax machine, because scanning can degrade the quality of a faxed document, just like a photocopier or stand-alone fax machine can.
Other Fax Sofware Options
If you have a version of Vista that doesn't come with free fax software, or you want to try some fax software that offers more features than the fax freebies, try one of these:
Mac and Linux users, have no fear. There are many faxing packages available for Mac OS X and Linux platforms. Mac OS X includes a bare-bones free fax software option, but you can upgrade to PageSender ($39.95 / Free Trial) which can fax anything you can print, and includes lots of advanced fax sending and receiving options.
Ubuntu users can use efax-gtk, a free fax package for Linux, which provides a virtual printer for sending faxes from word processors, and can automatically print incoming faxes. Using the Add/Remove item in the Applications menu, you can install the efax-gtk package from the "Universe" repository. One potential gotcha - many fax modems work only with Windows. The solution for Linux is to use an all-in-one printer that has built-in faxing capabilities.
What If I Don't Have a Land Line?
Keep in mind, these options are for regular analog phone lines - the kind that's been around since Alexander Graham Bell invented the phone. Lots of folks are abandoning land lines these days, opting to get phone service solely via their cell phones or through their broadband connection (VOIP). So what are your choices if you don't have a land line that can double as a fax line?
The answer -- Internet Faxing.
There are a number of internet faxing services out there, some are free and some are fee-based. The difference between the two usually involves whether you can both send and receive faxes (some of the free services only allow for sending) and if you can fax both domestically and internationally.
There are also commercial products available when you need to have a multi-user faxing environment such as for a small-to-mid-size business. In these cases, fax server software can be used. RightFax is a popular fax server program. Setting up a fax server may only really be necessary however, in corporate environments with businesses that really depend on a lot of simultaneous inbound and outbound faxing. With the emergence of faxing over the internet, many smaller businesses are going with that option.
It certainly seems as if faxing is going to be around for awhile. Why not use free fax software and fax straight from your desktop? It saves on the costs associated with toner cartridges for stand-alone faxes, it's environmentally-friendly and it means less clutter on your desktop without a dedicated fax machine.
Do you use free fax software, or a commercial fax program instead of a traditional fax machine? Post a comment and tell me what platform and software works best for you...
Posted by Bob Rankin on 13 Oct 2008
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Free Fax Software (Posted: 13 Oct 2008)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved