If you have been working in an office for more than one month, then you’ll know how important PDFs are. This file format has cemented its place in modern offices thanks to its ease of use and its compatibility with Mac and Windows based computers. Given its widespread use, it’s easy to understand why people are looking for ways to fax a PDF to a fax machine. In this article we will be discussing your different alternatives.
What is PDF?
PDF is a file format created by John Warnock and his team at Adobe, as a way to reduce the amount of paper consumed each year in offices. Back in those days, offices had special rooms just to store the sheer amount of papers used within the company, which was not limited to faxes. With a digital file format suddenly we could read documents on our computer screens, printing only those that we needed physically.
The change wasn’t overnight. Offices needed time to slowly adapt to this new way of sharing documents, and many of them didn’t even have computers! Although obscure at first, the file format started popularizing within years to the point that everybody has a PDF reader installed in their computers.
PDF Fax: Your Alternatives
It’s true, PDFs are everywhere nowadays. But what about businesses that still have to fax regularly? Is there a way to convert PDF into faxes? Can you also receive a fax as a PDF?
There are different ways to deliver a PDF to a fax machine. The first thing you’ll need is a computer because that’s where your PDF is. Then you’ll need use one of these methods:
- Use an Internet fax service.
- Use a faxing application or program.
- Use a fax machine that connects to your computer
Let’s take a closer look at each one of them:
Method 1: Use An Online Fax Service
Just like the PDF file format, online faxing was created to reduce paper consumption. Instead of the traditional method of printing a document to then send it through a fax machine, you can fax from your email address with a service.
There are no special requirements for this method, and it is hands-down the easiest one on the list. You simply sign up with an online fax provider, and it will ask you to enter an email address to send faxes. Once you have completed the sign up process, you are ready to fax a PDF.
The process of sending a fax from email is very easy. Basically you are just changing a few things in the process of sending a common email. The main differences is that instead of entering a common email address, you enter the number this way: email@example.com. You can check out the step-by-step process to send a fax in this tutorial.
To send a PDF you attach it to the email message and click Send. That’s it. After that, your fax will be on its way and the PDF will be converted into a file format that can also be received by fax machines. All fax services are compatible with PDF files among other types of files such as TXT, DOC, JPG, BMP and you can send multiple documents in a single fax transmission.
Once the document is transmitted it will arrive at the recipient’s fax machine as a common printable fax.
Services cost a low monthly fee, but we recommend signing up for a service such as eFax or RingCentral, which let you open a free trial account active for a month,including a number to receive faxes.
Method 2: Faxing with Fax Software
This second method also lets you fax directly from your computer, but you have to use a program to do it.
Fax software has been around for more than a decade. As a matter of fact, all Window users have had the option for years to install the “Windows Fax and Scan” from the OS installation disk, but few of them know it!
Setting up your computer for faxing is a bit trickier than simply using a service. The first thing you’ll need is a fax modem which connects to a line, and then of course, you need the actual physical line. A dedicated fax line is a must if you want to keep faxes flowing throughout the day because these programs can’t work through VoIP. These extra requirements have decreased the popularity of software over the years.
Using “Fax and Scan” is really simple, once you have made the appropriate connections you just fill all the details and send the fax. The programs converts your documents into fax transmissions and then sends it through the physical line.
Method 3: Connect a Fax Machine to Your Computer
These days you can find multi-functional printers that also act as proxy fax machines. You simply connect them to your computer using the method required by the manufacturer (it can be through USB, Bluetooth or through Wi-Fi).
Multi-functional fax machines use a fax program to connect to your computer, but keep in mind that you’ll still need a physical line. The only exception of this is the HP Photosmart 7150 machine which includes integration with eFax, one of the leading online fax services out there.
Receiving Fax as PDF
So far we have talked about sending PDF to a fax machine. But what if you want to receive incoming fax online as PDF? Can you convert documents the other way?
From the three methods listed above, the one that lets you convert and receive faxes as PDF documents is online faxing. Online fax services provide an email fax number with each account. This number will catch incoming fax transmissions and send the contents for conversion, once the fax image has been converted to a PDF file, it is forwarded to your email.
This process, also known as email fax, takes place automatically whenever someone wants to send you a fax. You simply check for incoming faxes in your inbox.
PDF documents are very easy to fax with the right tools. You can use a program, a compatible fax machine or multi-functional printer, or go for the fastest alternative with online fax services. If you only have a fax machine at hand, then your only option is to print the PDF and fax it as you usually do, but know that there are better alternatives out there.
PDF faxing is here to stay, helping reduce the amount of paper we consume in the office, saving time and taking your communications to the next level.