[UPDATED: November 2018]
With the help of Gmail, businesses and people all around the World can communicate easily and in mere seconds. Google's email service has continued evolving since it first started, adding useful features and integrating with other big G's services like Google Drive, Calendars or Google Docs.
Not so long ago, you could only send emails from a computer. But it was pretty limited: accounts had only a handful of features and the small amount of storage meant that you had to delete emails regularly to have space for new ones! That was until Google launched Gmail in 2004, and since then things have never been the same.
But despite all the additions to the service, Gmail doesn't have a way to send fax online, and they have made it clear on a support article in their website. They have invested in other technology, such as Google Voice, but this service can only be implemented for calls, not for fax transmissions.
Luckily, we can send fax from Gmail with a technology that has been around for some years now: email faxing. Using one of these services, instead of using your fax machine, you use a virtual number that converts outgoing files to fax, and incoming fax to digital documents you can read on your screen. It's a method that not only saves time, but it also reduces your fax expenses.
This way of faxing is extremely easy to integrate in your office because it doesn't require physical installations or faxing hardware.
For this tutorial you'll need account with an online fax service with email compatibility. These services are able to convert email to fax by linking a virtual number to your email address. We recommend starting off with an email fax service provider with free accounts, like RingCentral or eFax which let you create an account to send fax online free for 30 days. It's the perfect way to follow this guide.
There's also the alternative to send a fax through a website at zero cost, but it is limited to couple of pages per day, and they don't provide a way to do it from Gmail. Instead, you have to use a form on a website. If you need more pages, you have to actually start paying a fee per page, which can end up being more costly than the nominal fee email fax services charge per month. These services, although they deliver your fax, are not recommended for sensitive information for three reasons: they don't guarantee your fax has been delivered, they don't have advanced security measures and they include their own branding on your faxes for promotional purposes.
Steps to Send a Fax with Gmail
If you know how to send a simple email, you've already got 90% of the process down. There are only a few minor differences that you have to keep in mind:
Keeping this into account, here are the steps to send Gmail fax:
- 1Create a new email message by clicking on COMPOSE both in Gmail's desktop site or when using their mobile app.
- 2Enter the recipients' 10-digit fax number (with area code) in the TO field. You'll need turn this number into an email address by adding @provider.com at the end. For example, if you use RingCentral, a sample number (1-222-333-3333) should look like this: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can add up to 50 recipients at the same time separated by commas.
- 3Add the cover page text using the Subject field. The layout of the cover page will depend on the settings on your fax service account. You can also attach a customized cover page to the email. In that case just leave the field empty.
- 4Attach the files you want to fax. Just click on the paperclip icon (lower area of the composing screen in the desktop version) and pick a file from your computer. You can attach formats like PDF, JPG, TXT or DOC. For a full list of compatible formats refer to your service's support page. It's also possible to attach multiple files in a single fax transmission, but there's a limit on the size of files.
- 5Press Send. It doesn’t take more than a few minutes to fully transmit the document. Once it's done, you'll receive a confirmation message with the transmission details on your inbox, including the date/time, sender's phone number and extension, name of the recipient and the result of the transmission.
If there's a error while transmitting the fax, your service will try re-sending it until it is successful. It's very unusual to get an error message, but if you do get one it will detail what went wrong during the process so you can fix it or contact the customer support area.
Learning how to fax online will give you an edge over other companies that use traditional faxing methods. You’ll cut the time you spend faxing, while breaking away from all the issues that plagued fax machines, like paper jams and poor document quality.
At the same time it will help you save money that used to be spent in equipment, supplies and additional fax lines.