PDFs are the most popular document file format in the world today. Understandably, they’re also one of the most popular virtual documents to fax.
But how do you actually fax a PDF? What’s the best method for faxing a PDF?
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There are four main ways to fax a PDF, including:
- Using an online faxing service
- Using fax software
- Using a fax machine
- Printing and faxing a PDF the old fashioned way
Keep reading to discover how to send a PDF easily with each of the above methods.
Using an Online Faxing Service
All online faxing services out there today support PDF faxing. If a faxing service didn’t support the PDF file format, it would not be very successful or popular.
PDFs are the one type of document you never have to worry about online faxing. With PDFs, you can simply attach them to your virtual fax and relax knowing that the file will be converted successfully by your provider.
Online fax services all pretty much work the same way for faxing a pdf:
Step 1) You sign up for an online fax service and pick a plan that works for you. Some fax services offer plans with thousands of incoming and outgoing faxes each month. Others let you fax a small number of faxes – say, 10 – per month for free. If you only plan on sending a few PDF faxes, then there’s nothing with the free plans. As mentioned above, you don’t have to spend much time comparing file formats between providers if you’re only faxing PDFs: all online fax services accept PDFs.
Step 2) Compose a new email on your usual email platform. In the recipient field, type in your recipient’s fax number followed by your online fax provider’s website, like firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step 3) In the body of that email, write a message that will appear on the cover page of the fax. This cover page typically introduces the fax and may have contact information for both you and your recipient.
Step 4) Attach your PDF document to that email. Many computer fax providers allow you to attach multiple documents to a single email to be delivered as a single fax.
Step 5) Once you’ve verified all of the information is correct, hit Send.
After you send the file, it will be processed by your online fax service’s servers. The PDF will be transformed into data that can be transmitted and faxed down a phone line.
Then, the PDF will arrive at your recipient’s fax machine and appear as a normal PDF.
If you have multiple PDFs attached to your email, then they will all be delivered as part of that same fax. Some online fax providers have a limit on the number of attachments you can attach to a single fax, or the number of pages in length a fax can be. However, this limit is usually high enough that it’s not an issue.
Online faxing is the best way to fax a PDF if you don’t have a fax machine or active phone line. It’s also a great solution if you don’t want to go through the hassle of connecting a fax machine to your computer, printing off a copy of the PDF, or leaving your office chair. It’s fast, cheap, and convenient.
Use Fax Software on your Computer
Mac OS X is the only major computer operating system that does not have functional fax software.
Windows PCs, like Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, and 10 all have built-in fax software (although you need to install it from the disc on Windows XP). In Vista, 7, 8, and 10, you can just type “Fax” into the Windows search bar and find the Windows Fax and Scan utility, which lets you turn your computer into a fax machine.
To use that software, you’ll need all of the following:
- A Windows or Linux PC
- A PDF document you want to fax
- A fax modem on your computer, like an internal modem or an external/USB modem
- An active land line phone connection
That active land line is important. You can’t use your computer’s internet connection with fax software. You also cannot use a VoIP line, as fax data will get scrambled when transmitted through the line.
If you have all of the above materials, then you’re ready to move forward.
To send a fax using software on your computer, you proceed basically like you would send an email.
In fact, if you’re using software like Windows Fax and Scan, then you’ll find that it’s almost identical to Outlook in many ways.
The only major difference with fax software is that you can fill in information for the cover pages and fax numbers are added to the pages of your PDF as it’s converted by the software.
Once you press the “Send” button on your faxing software, the computer’s faxing software assembles the information and faxes it to the receiving fax machine.
Connect a Fax Machine to your Computer
If you have a fax machine in your office or home, then this method is an easy way to send a fax from your system to a recipient.
Attaching a fax machine or multi-purpose printer to your computer lets you use your computer as a proxy fax machine. You use your computer’s printing driver (or fax software) to send faxes through a connected printer.
You still need an active phone line (you need to connect it to the fax machine). But you don’t need a fax modem or any other hardware attached to your computer.
Here’s what you need for this method:
- A fax machine or multifunction printer (i.e. a printer that can print, copy, scan, and fax)
- A PDF document that you’re trying to fax
- An active landline phone line you can plug the fax machine into
Sending an email fax with this method involves you connecting your fax machine to your PC – typically via USB cord or sometimes via Bluetooth. Some fax machines or multi-purpose printers will also connect themselves to your network, in which case you may be able to connect to your fax machine using your computer’s wireless network.
Once your fax machine is connected, you can open the fax program and load the PDF to be sent as a fax. Or, open any file and simply access the print menu (say, by pressing Ctrl + P in Word, for example).
Your print driver should recognize the attached fax machine. If you have installed your fax machine’s drivers correctly, then the fax machine will pop up on your dropdown list of attached devices. Press Ctrl + P from within a document to open the print menu, then find your printer or fax machine under the dropdown menu.
Printing and Faxing a PDF the Old Fashioned Way
You don’t have to be old fashioned to appreciate our final way to fax a PDF: there’s nothing wrong with printing off your PDF and then faxing it through your existing fax machine.
Using this method, you can also take your PDF to Staples or other business stores with faxing services on-site. If you’re not a fan of online faxing and don’t want to go through the hassle of setting up your fax machine or Windows-based faxing service, then there’s certainly nothing wrong with the old fashioned way.
The major downside with doing it the old fashioned way is that you might experience some PDF quality degradation. When you print off the PDF, then re-copy it into the fax machine, you consistently lose quality at each stage.
If your faxed PDF is a highly technical document, or anything that demands a high level of quality, then you should try to avoid the extra scan and do one of the faxing methods listed above.
Ultimately, PDFs are some of the easiest file formats you can fax. They’re supported by all online fax providers and easy to attach to faxing software on your computer. That’s why there are many different straightforward ways to fax a PDF.