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.
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.
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.