Sending faxes used to be a staple of the modern office, but recently email is the dominant method of small file transfer. Still, if you do need to send a fax, but want to upgrade your office to a fully-digital system, an Email to Fax service or system might be the best solution. There are online and in-house services that make this possible using your own email account. Here is how email to fax is done in 5 easy steps.
- Choose Your Provider or System
Decide which online email to fax service provider you want to use. There are several, including eFax, Send2Fax, MetroFax, FaxAge, and others. You may want to see if other locations in your organization already use or recommend a particular vender, but if not you can typically give most a test drive before getting too far into the process. You want a provider that makes the system simple and easy to use (a service that uses the least number of steps and which offers the greatest amount of flexibility or features).
- Understand Your Rates and Fees
After you choose a provider, decide what level of service you need to cover the requirements for your required users and monthly volume. Email to fax fees can range from $8/month (500 pages) up to $36/month or more (2,500 pages) for single user accounts or you can get a scalable architecture that can work for your entire company. Alternatively, some providers charge an annual “membership” fee as well as a monthly use fee, and then bill you on a cost per sent and received faxed page over a certain amount.
- Configure Your Mail Program as Needed
Sending a fax will entail opening your email program and creating a new message or attaching a file. It may also involve a direct email from any application that can send to email. For the best results, you’ll want to configure an Address Book entry for your particular Email to Fax account. This way, you can simply type “Fax” and call up the appropriate address as needed. With some systems, you will need to enter the receiving fax number in Recipient email field followed by the Email to Fax domain name (it may look like: “email@example.com”). Other systems may have different protocols, but you’ll want to make sure you can easily configure your applications to call this up as needed. Some systems also allow multiple fax and/or email recipients.
- Details Matter!
Just because you’re sending a fax via email doesn’t mean you don’t need a coversheet. This is particularly important if you are faxing to a large enterprise which may still use a classic fax machine to receive faxes and which may be a shared device among a department. You can often store a cover sheet template somewhere it is easily accessible in your document applications, be it Adobe Acrobat, OpenOffice, or Microsoft Word.
- Old School Email Methods Work, too
If you want to send a digital file that’s all ready to go, simply send the email to the address specified on your account (see above for the formatting) and attach the file(s) you wish to send. Most email to fax services will take any attached files and automatically convert them to a fax, sending them to your recipient.
Avoiding Pitfalls in Using Email to Fax Services
Before deciding on a service, try out a demo. You can do this by signing up for a free or trial account and sending a few test faxes. This will do a few things. First, it will let you know whether or not one provider is easier to use over another, or whether it better fits into your existing workflow. You want the entire email to fax process to be a simple one and not something that requires you rethink everything you know about faxing. If it doesn’t save you time, then it may be costing you money.
Consider whether you need or want a toll-free fax number. Many services offer a toll free number, but you may or may not want to go that route—particularly given today’s “free” national calling for most phone services. Some services automatically upgrade you to toll free on certain pricing levels.
Understand and compare your costs when faxing. One service may set a limit higher than another for monthly fax volume. Incoming and outgoing are also tallied differently and the way you do business will determine how much you require of each. If your service charges “per fax” after a certain number of faxes, then you want to make sure you fully count the potential cost should you utilize higher volumes of faxes in a month. Another thing to realize is that most email to fax service providers offer a custom quote for enterprise solutions where multiple users or particularly high volumes are required.