Among the modern office workers, there is one document format which is really well known – the pdf. It is easy to work with this format on both Windows and Mac machines since Adobe works well enough on both platforms. Now, combine the vast use of this format with the also vast using of faxes and you will understand why people need to be able to fax a pdf document at any moment. This will be our main point of discussing throughout this article.
The Origin Of PDF
PDF stands for “portable document format” and is created by John Warnock, who is also one of the co-founders of Adobe. His main idea was to reduce the amount of wasted paper across offices. This portable document format potentially allowed business to send and receive important documents from each other without the need of printing out these documents and wasting vast amounts of paper.
Of course, it all took time, as it kind of depended on the digitalization of offices. Before PDF could be widely used, everyone had to at least have computers. That is why the whole process of introducing the PDF (and Adobe Reader) was kind of slow initially. Fast forward to today and the pdf’s are an indispensable part of any business.
Faxing and PDFs
As stated, the pdf format is the most popular in today’s world and logically, it is the most commonly faxed. How do you actually fax a PDF document, though? Or can you convert your faxes to PDFs? Can it be done for free? Let’s find the answer to all these questions now.
It is obvious that if we are talking about faxing a pdf document, we refer to sending a fax through a computer (or a fax software). In that case, we are left with about three major ways of being able to send PDFs over the fax line. You can:
- Use an online fax service
- Use a special fax software (found in newer fax machine models)
- Using a fax machine connected to your device
- If none of the above is an option you can still print the PDF and fax it the old fashioned way
Right of the bat, the first way is without a doubt the easiest one (as it doesn’t even require a fax machine), but let’s give the rest a chance and see what each method brings to the table.
Send Your Fax With The Help Of Online Faxing Services
There is one more thing working to reduce the overall paper waste. Its called email faxing. A few years back, the only way you could send a pdf is to print it and send it over the fax machine, but now the good old traditional way has been replaced by a more modern concept – the online faxing.
Basically, all you have to do here is sign up for an online fax provider. They will give you the opportunity to link your Gmail account and be able to send PDFs directly from it just by entering the fax number of your recipient followed by the provider’s domain. So, it goes like this – Fax Number@Provider’sDomain.com. You can check out our detailed article on this topic here.
It’s a pretty straightforward process. If you need to fax someone immediately, we’d recommend using a service like RingCentral. They have a trial period and everything gets automatically set up for you in less than a few minutes. After that, you can just go ahead and send a fax from your email client just as you’d send a regular email. The PDF document goes as an attachment to your emails.
If you’re wondering whether all online services support PDFs – trust us, they do. It is the most widely used format and no fax provider can afford not offering it as an option. Many of the providers even let you attach multiple PDFs which will ultimately be delivered as a single email. If you want to create a cover page for your fax, simply write your message in the body of the composed email.
After you press “Send” the data will go through the provider’s servers and be transformed into transmittable over the phone line data. Then, your PDF document will arrive at the recipient’s fax machine as a normal printable format.
We must note that this service will cost you money if you want to keep using it, or if you want to go above a free pool of sent/received faxes.
This method is the best one if you don’t have a fax machine nearby or an active phone line at the office yet. It also saves you from all the annoying steps of connecting a fax machine to your PC, printing a copy of the PDF doc and then faxing it. Using online faxing services you can send faxes to your colleagues without even leaving your chair.
We’ve done quite the extensive review on three of the best online fax providers – eFax, HelloFax, and RingCentral. Click here if you want to check it out.
Sending Faxes Through Fax Software On Your PC
All Windows software versions have built-in fax programs, unlike Mac OS X. On Windows 7,8, and 10 you can use the “Fax and Scan” application which is pre-installed on your computer. It basically turns your PC into a fax machine.
There are a few extra things that you’d need to finalize the process, though. Those are a fax modem (either on your computer or an external one) and an active landline. The latter is important as you can’t really use the internet connection of the computer with the fax software. That is perhaps the biggest downside of this method. VoIP lines are out of the equation as well, as fax data won’t go well through them.
When faxing, you will realize that Windows’ “Fax and Scan” is so close to Outlook that you basically wouldn’t require any guidance if you’re used to the mail client. The only major difference is that you can fill the information for the cover pages. Once you send it, the computer will gather up the information and transform it into a fax, which will then be sent through the landline to your recipient’s machine or online directory.
This method is in some ways similar to our next one:
Connecting An Actual Fax Machine To Your Computer
Basically, what you’ll be doing here is just attach the fax machine (or multi-purpose printer) to your PC and it will start acting as a proxy fax machine. You will still need a landline but in this case, you won’t need a modem.
Different fax machines connect to your computer through various ways – some with USB, others with Bluetooth. Some might even connect to your PC over a shared internet connection (shared wifi, for example).
You can also use your phone in some instances, connecting it to a fax machine wirelessly like that. Find out more on that here.
Once your computer is connected, simple open the fax program and load the PDF document you want to send and send it as a fax. Another method is to go through the print menu at a Word document for example (Ctrl + P). If your fax machine is connected properly, you will be able to select it from the drop-down menu on the printing screen.
These were the more “modern” ways of faxing a document with a pdf file format. Let’s take a few moments to honorably mention the old school way, which still works for PDFs, as a matter of fact.
Printing Your PDF Document And Then Faxing It
If there is a fax machine near you, and you don’t see a 10-person line for it, chances are that this method will be as quick as the rest.
If you aren’t a fan of doing things online or through dedicated computer programs, this might be the perfect method for you. Just print out your PDF file and go ahead and put it into the fax machine, enter your recipient’s number and you’re done.
We must mention one tiny downside, though. You might experience a slight PDF quality degradation using this method. Printing the document and then copying it in the fax machine are two processes that will both slightly take some quality off of your final product. This means that anything that demands a high level of quality kind of requires the previous three methods.
Fax To PDF
What many people forget to explain is that when using any of the computer methods for faxing (both online and when connecting to a fax machine) you will have the opportunity to reverse the whole process. This means that any fax that is sent to your number can go directly to your PC, where it will ultimately be transformed into a PDF. That means that you can check your incoming faxes from your email client, or on the dedicated applications pre-installed on your Windows.
PDF formatted documents are perhaps the easiest files you can fax. You can do that through online faxing services, or through your computer when connecting it to a fax machine or a modem and a landline. Even printing a PDF and then faxing it is still considered relatively easy if you got access to a fax machine nearby. The great thing about these methods is that you don’t even need a fax number to be able to send your documents. In case you want to receive faxes through the same channels, though, you’d need one. The beauty of online fax providers is that they automatically give you a fax number (most commonly toll-free) so that you can receive your faxes at the same place you sent them from. This has helped businesses reduce their electricity bills, their paper costs and be more time-efficient, so no need to wait in order to make the next big step!