Question: Where can I find a Google fax app that lets me send and receive faxes online?
Answer: If what you mean with an app is a piece of software developed by Google to send and receive faxes, well… that doesn’t exist yet, and to tell you the truth it may never exist.
A while ago, you could find an official answer to this question in one of the Google Voice support pages. In the now deleted page, Google stated that they had no plans to add fax capabilities to their Voice service, given that this service uses VoIP technology, and in order to send and receive faxes online you would need a FoIP (Fax Over Internet Protocol) line.
Having said that, it doesn’t mean that we can’t send and receive faxes using some of Google’s services such as Gmail, Chrome or Google Drive. Quite the contrary. The term Google fax is used nowadays to describe this way of faxing online. Since we can’t use a Google app, we need the aid of third-party online fax services.
There are three ways to fax from Google:
- With Gmail, using an email fax service
- With Google Drive or Docs, using a plug-in
- With Google Chrome, using an add-on.
Let’s take a look at the three different methods:
Faxing from Gmail
You can add fax capabilities to Gmail using an email fax service. These companies provide you with a Google fax number that you can use to send and receive fax. This virtual number works the same as a common fax number, with the difference that it can convert incoming transmissions into a digital file.
This way of faxing has become very popular in the past decade, given that it is very easy and fast to use. After all, sending a fax this way isn’t much different from sending a common email.
On the other side, you don’t have to do anything to receive faxes, these are automatically redirected to your Gmail account, where they arrive as Adobe PDF files.
Using a Google Docs plug-in
You can also send faxes directly from Google Drive and Docs by using a plug-in in charge of adding fax features on the sidebar. This option is perfect for those offices and users that work with cloud-based documents.
With a plugin it is possible to fax directly from the document interface. Installing one of these plugins is free, but they work with a pay-per-fax model, hence why it is a good choice for users who only need to fax once in a while. A plugin is different from an app in the sense that it doesn’t require a hard installation on your computer. Instead, it is installed and uploaded to your online Google account.
The biggest downside about this way of faxing online is that it doesn’t allow you to receive faxes. Also, if you have to deal with high fax volumes per month, you could end up paying more than the monthly cost of a service subscription.
Gmail fax services also let you fax Google Docs files, but this is done via your provider’s fax interface.
Using a Google Chrome Add-on
Another way to fax using a Google product is through a Chrome add-on. There are a handful of services that let you add fax capabilities to your Chrome browser by installing a free add-on.
This way of faxing is similar to the one we have discussed before. Once you have downloaded and installed the add-on on your browser, you’ll find a fax button on the toolbar. Pressing it will prompt the appearance of a pop-up sidebar, with all the fields you need to fill out to send your fax.
In this case the documents you want to fax will have to be uploaded from your hard drive. Once you have filled all the details and get ready to send the fax, you will need to pay for it. Like Docs plugins, these add-ons work with services that charge you per page on a fax, and is limited to USA and a few other countries.
Besides working with Chrome, this method doesn’t really integrate with other Google services, and offers no way to receive fax online. These services don’t provide digital fax numbers, so it is only good for sending fax.
These are the different ways you can replace a Google fax app. If I have to recommend one method it is faxing from Gmail. Getting started is very easy, and here you will find plenty of tutorials that will help you find the best service to fax for free.
If what you are looking is to send the occasional fax, you are better off with one of the other two options. It depends on where you have your documents stored.