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How can I Send a Fax from a Computer?

Brendan McGuigan
Brendan McGuigan

When most people think of how to send a fax, they imagine a dedicated fax machine that sits on their desk. With modern computers, however you can actually send one directly from your home computer. There are a number of ways this can be accomplished, either with or without a separate modem and a phone line. Regardless of how the fax is sent, though, whatever document you want to send still needs to get on to your computer somehow. For documents you create on the computer, this obviously isn’t a problem, but for hard copy documents, you’ll still need some sort of a scanner to get the document into your fax software package.

If you’re running Windows® or a Mac operating system and you have a modem that’s attached to a phone line of some sort, you can send a fax as a native capability of the computer. Many programs on these computers, such as Microsoft Word®, can send documents created within them as faxes. Doing so doesn’t take any special software or even any extra steps. All you have to do to send the document from within the program is to open the document you want to fax, and select the Print option, as if you were sending it to a printer. You can then change the printer selection from your normal printer to the Fax option.

Modern modems allow home computers to transmit faxes.
Modern modems allow home computers to transmit faxes.

When you click Print, rather than the document being printed to your printer, a special fax dialogue box will pop up. This dialogue box asks for information like the fax number, an optional cover page to be added to the fax, and when the fax should be sent, if you want to delay its time of departure. Once you send the fax, a fax monitor will launch, keeping you apprised of how the faxing is going. The number will be dialed through your modem, and if the number isn’t busy, it will be sent through and be received on the other end as though it were any other fax sent from a normal fax machine.

Faxes can be sent from computers with or without a phone line.
Faxes can be sent from computers with or without a phone line.

If you don’t have a modem or a phone line to send the fax over, you can also take advantage of a number of online services that allow you to send faxes through their systems. These programs typically charge a monthly fee for a normal dedicated line. To send a fax, you simply log into their system and add as an attachment whatever file you want to fax, either a document directly from the computer, or something you’ve scanned in from a hard copy. This document is then faxed to the number you put in, along with an optional cover page, using their own equipment at their facilities.

In addition, when using an online system, you are also given a dedicated fax number for your own use. This means that you can receive faxes 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without the inconvenience of having to have your own fax machine and dedicated phone line. Faxes are received to your number at the provider’s facility, and then emailed to you as images.

Discussion Comments


@anon322811: Does your printer really have a faxing option? If not, better just use an online faxing service; it's cheaper and less annoying.


How do I set up my printer as the dedicated fax program? Now when I try to use it, it goes through the dial/connected phase, but when it goes in to the scan phase, it shuts off.


@gameaddicted - win199 has it about right. Most companies that allow you to send a fax over the internet will set you up with an email that you scan photos into. The email is also a phone or fax number at which you can receive incoming faxes for business or home purposes as well. In most cases the service doesn't cost much and will present your business or yourself with a number like any other professional would have to send and receive faxes. It also saves you from having to go outside of your home in order to pay to use some one's fax machine which can also be quite costly.


@win199 - The whole e-mail fax thing works a little differently than you're describing. You have the general idea, though, and you can actually find programs that will give you a trial or two and send a free fax online.


@berson7 - I think you would have to pull the images out and resend the fax that way. Meaning the attachments that were faxed should be reattached and forwarded. I don't know a whole lot about the XP fax program. You can send a fax by email as well in the same manner, just attached the jpg of the scan into the email and send to the recipient.


I am using the Win XP fax program on my home pc. Is there a way to resend a fax that was not received by the intended recipient, without re-creating the cover page and re-scanning attached documents? The fax is in my Sent box and the original transmission showed it was sent successfully.

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    • Modern modems allow home computers to transmit faxes.
      By: Zsolt Biczó
      Modern modems allow home computers to transmit faxes.
    • Faxes can be sent from computers with or without a phone line.
      By: lionblueg2
      Faxes can be sent from computers with or without a phone line.