Fax from computers: The evolution of fax from fax machines to online fax
Even if there are more advanced document transmission solutions like email and team messaging apps, fax continues to thrive as one of the most reliable ways to send files.
Of course, its usage has certainly dropped since its 1997 peak of selling 3.6 million fax machines in a year. It’s actually considered to be a historical artifact now—the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, made it a point to include the fax machine in its collection.
This does not mean, however, that the world is done with fax as a file-sharing system.
In fact, there are many nations in the world like Japan—a country as advanced as it can get when it comes to technology—that still consider fax as an important part of doing business. It is also still the preferred document transmitting method for transactions in many healthcare and financial institutions because it is considered more secure than email.
This shows that fax technology is not obsolete at all and is actually thriving as a system for transmitting documents.
How did fax continue to be relevant today? Like any technology that thrives over the years, fax has done it by evolving and adapting to technology usage in the current business environment. In the case of faxing, it’s done it through internet fax via computers.
How to fax from your computer
In the past, before the internet became what it is today, fax machines ruled the peer-to-peer document sharing field. Every business on the planet had at least one fax machine—some even had a dedicated phone number for faxing.
However, with the internet taking over how the majority of business processes work, fax had to adapt. And adapt it did.
Now, businesses are able to send faxes over the internet using their desktop PCs or laptops. But how do people fax online using their PCs or laptops without a fax machine?
The answer is through online fax software, programs, or services that you can run on your PCs.
One of the top fax software for PCs right now is RingCentral Fax®. Businesses can subscribe to a RingCentral plan for standalone online fax service.
With RingCentral, you get an easy and convenient way to fax from your computer. Simply add the recipient’s phone number, attach the document you want to fax, and send.
or log in online.
—from any devices.
How to send a fax from a computer using RingCentral
Knowing how to fax without a fax machine and doing it online is pretty simple and easy, and there are multiple ways to use RingCentral for faxing documents from your computer or laptop.
The four most common ways are through a RingCentral account, the RingCentral app, email, or a PC scanner.
How to send fax from computers: Send a fax using your RingCentral account
Here are steps showing how you can send a fax directly from your own RingCentral account.
- Log in to your RingCentral account. You can use either your business phone number or email address to log in.
- Once you are in your account, simply click on the FaxOut icon. The icon looks like a piece of paper with a slight fold on the lower right corner. It can be found on the upper right-hand corner of your account interface right under the Log Out button. It is also next to the phone icon, which is next to the online meetings icon. A pop-up window for fax will come up on your screen.
- The next step is to enter the recipient’s contact information. There are three ways to input the fax recipient's information:
- Simply type the recipient’s fax phone number directly in the To field box then press enter. The phone number format is country code + area code + phone number.
- Simply type in the recipient’s name in the To field box. If they are in your contacts, their name will appear below the field box where you can simply select and click on the recipient’s name.
- You can also access your contact lists by simply clicking on the plus (+) icon at the end of the To field box. From there, it is just a matter of selecting the name of the person you want to send a fax to, then click Insert.
Please note that you can also send a fax to up to 50 people at once. Just enter all the recipients’ contact information in the To field box one after the other.
- Once you are done entering all the recipients’ contact information, you can now attach the file that you want to send as a fax document. You can either attach files that are saved locally on your PC’s or laptop’s hard drive or you can attach files from your cloud storage account (including Box, Dropbox™, and Google Drive™).
- Once you have attached the files you want to fax as documents, you can simply click Send Now in the lower-right part of the interface.
How to send a fax from a PC: Send a fax via the RingCentral app
You can start using the RingCentral app as soon as you sign up for an account.
Here are the steps:
- Log in to your RingCentral application using your business phone number or email account..
- In the RingCentral app, just go to Phone, which is located towards the top of the left pane.
- Once in the Phone section, click on Faxes on the main screen.
- Click on the Compose Fax icon on the main screen. It is in the upper right-hand part, right at the end of the section where you will find the options Calls, Voicemails, Faxes, and Recordings. A pop-up window for fax will appear.
- Enter the recipients’ contact information. Unlike in the RingCentral account, you can only either type in the recipient’s phone number or type in their name; if they’re part of your contact list, their contact details will appear, which can then be selected.
- Once you are done, you can simply attach the file you want to fax from your PC’s local hard drive or from your cloud storage account including Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive.
- Once attached, you can simply click on Send.
How to fax from a computer: Fax via email
You can also use your email client to send a fax from your computer. Here’s how:
- The first step is to ensure that your email address is set to your RingCentral extension. If you want to use other email addresses for faxing, you also have to ensure that the email address is added to your extension’s trusted email address list. If you have not done this and do not know how, you can check out the steps in the email to fax overview.
- Once that is done, you can open your email client and compose a new email message.
- In the email recipient’s field box, you can input the recipient’s 10-digit fax phone number, followed by the domain “@rcfax.com”.
- Attach the document that you want to fax. However, you have to make sure that the following conditions are met:
- The file name should not include an ampersand (&) or other special characters.
- The file type should be supported. See table below for file types supported.
- Make sure that the body of the email is empty. Remove all content including your signature, images, and footnotes.
- Send the email.
Fax without a fax machine: Fax from PC scanner
If you noticed, all the options above are for faxing soft copies of documents. For hard copies, people usually scan it and then store it locally or in the cloud. From there, you can choose any of the options given above on how to send a fax.
If you want to send a fax directly from your scanner like it is your own fax machine, however, you can do that too. The process is similar to how you fax via email but instead of using your email client, you are sending a fax via email directly from the scanner. Here are the steps:
- Simply position your document on the scanner. It is usually face down on the scanner glass, but it will depend on how your scanner works.
- Go to the menu section of your scanner and set it to email.
- The scanner will then prompt you to enter the recipient’s contact information. Input it like how you would fax via email, which is the 10-digit code followed by “@rcfax.com”.
- When ready, just press the start button.
- RingCentral will then email this fax to the recipient. If they are using an online faxing app or software, they will receive it as a PDF file. If they are using a traditional fax machine, it will be printed.
Fax from computer: How to add a cover page to your fax
Aside from the actual fax message, you can actually add a fax cover page or sheet to your fax.
A fax cover page refers to the fax sheet that precedes the actual fax message. They provide the recipient information like the sender’s identity, contact information, and the intent of the fax message.
You may ask why there is a need to do this when you are sending it online. It should be clear when they receive it in their account that it was from you.
The answer is that some businesses still use traditional fax machines and do not always have caller ID. If your message comes in and they do not know it is from you, there is a higher chance that the fax will be ignored.
Now that you know what a cover page is, here’s the part where you learn about how to add it to your fax.
Depending on what method of fax delivery you are going to use, there may be slight variations on how you can add a cover sheet to your fax document.
Fax a cover page through an online account
To add a cover page to your fax through the RingCentral online account, you can follow these steps:
- Below the To field box is the option for adding a cover page. Just tick the enable box under the words Cover Page.
- Click on the Select box, which will bring you to another window. Choose your preferred cover page design. The current default is Contempo, which is reflected just above the Select box.
- If you want, you can add additional notes for the receiver in the Cover Page Notes field box as well. This is optional.
- You can now proceed to fax your document.
Include a fax cover page through the RingCentral app
To add a cover page on your fax through the RingCentral app, you can follow these steps:
- Right under the To field box are the options for cover page designs. Its current default design is Contempo, but you can change it by clicking the drop-down button and selecting another design.
- There is an option to put your company name in the next field box. This is optional.
- You can also add cover page notes in the next field box. This is also optional.
- Once done, you can proceed to send your fax.
Fax cover page via email
There are actually two ways you can send a cover fax page when you use your email for faxing.
- By default, if you set your outbound faxes to include a cover page, it will include a cover page each time with the information (company, address, city, etc.) that was pre-inputted. You can also enable the option that ensures a cover page will be included only when you write something on the subject line. If it is empty, no cover page will be included.
- You can also attach a custom cover page in addition to the document you are going to fax.
Now that you discovered these multiple options for faxing from your computer, you can see that it is pretty easy, simple, and convenient to use.
Check out the different RingCentral plans to see what will suit your faxing needs.