As archaic and antiquated as the fax machine might seem, it’s still alive. Certain sectors send and receive faxes regularly, including law firms and government offices. Of course, most of us don’t have a fax machine lying around anymore. This leads everyone to ask if it’s possible to send fax from Gmail, the world’s most popular email service. As a matter of fact, it is possible. But you need to be careful.
If you search “send fax from Gmail” you’ll probably find dozens of articles and pages that seem official. But if you inspect those URLs, you’ll notice that not a single one of them is an official website belonging to Google. Plenty of people take advantage of the fact that faxes are unexpected these days. Know how to send your fax safely. So, here’s how you can safely and securely send documents via fax using your Google email account.
A Simple Guide to Sending a Fax From Gmail
How to Securely Send Fax From Gmail
Ok, let’s get one thing clear: Google does NOT have integrated fax services for Gmail. That means that there is no such thing as Gmail fax or Google Drive fax support. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t send a fax from your Gmail account. It just means that you’ll need a third-party tool to do so.
And this is where the problems arise. You’re in a hurry because someone randomly asked you for a fax, and you have no fax machine available. You figure the easiest thing to do is try to send a fax online. In your rush, you don’t carefully inspect your options and wind up using something that could compromise your data privacy and potentially put your PC at risk.
However, just because Gmail does not have a true fax feature doesn’t mean that you can’t send a fax online. Gmail fax options are plentiful, all you need is an online fax service. You can send a fax with or without a fax number. Here’s what to look for.
Be Wary of Web Browser Extensions
The first thing you need to watch out for are shady browser extensions that promise to help you send faxes through your email. There are tons of these, and they make it seem easy to fax through Gmail or Google docs instead of using fax machines. But watch out!
A lot of these web browser extensions are simply there to steal your data. Sure, they might actually send the fax for you, but do you know what else that extension is doing? It could be monitoring your web activity and feeding it to who knows where. Be especially wary if the extension asks you to give it access to Google Drive, where it could see all of your Google docs.
There are legitimate options that use browser extensions. They aren’t all bad. But you can’t just download extensions at random, especially considering that many times faxes include sensitive data.
Secure Fax From Gmail Services
Instead of going with a browser extension from some mysterious organization, we’d recommend you look into online fax services. These can work in a few different ways. It depends on whether you actually need your fax to come out of a real fax machine or not.
Make sure you look for services that provide end-to-end encryption and use https when you upload your documents. Otherwise, the service provider could be taking a peek at your documents!
What these services do is deliver a carbon copy of your document to the destination, whether that’s an email account or a fax number is up to you. Consider the pros and cons of each and what your fax needs are before you choose a service.
Send a Fax From Email Services
These “email fax” options may not have the ability to deliver your fax to a machine, but they could be useful. This is also known as a virtual fax. All you do is attach your document and submit it to the service. Enter the recipient’s email address and it will deliver the document. So, what’s the difference between a virtual fax and simply attaching a file via email?
Once you click that send button, the fax service provider adds some text to the document, including the time it was sent and how it was delivered. This certifies that the document is authentic and was not modified by anyone else along the way. However, not everyone considers this a legal document and it may not be acceptable, especially when you’re dealing with the government.
Some faxing services will deliver your fax by asking you to send the document to their email server first. From there, it will be forwarded to the final user’s email address. In other cases, they might give you a virtual fax number. That brings us to the real deal.
Using a Fax Number to Send Fax From Email
Okay, but what if you want the real thing? If you want to send a fax to a fax machine from Gmail, you need to use a service that has a fax number. Some providers won’t assign you your own number; instead, they’ll just ask you to upload your document to their website and they’ll forward it on. However, if you have a fax number, you can also receive faxes to your Gmail as well as send them to machines.
The virtual number method is often used by VoIP providers. They will give you a virtual fax number that can receive faxes by forwarding them directly to your email. It’s almost as if someone sent you a real fax, then scanned it and sent it via email instead of giving you a real printout.
Since most fax machines still rely on traditional phone lines to operate, you can’t usually connect your virtual number to these machines. However, what you can do is set up an automatic email to print service that takes the fax from your email and prints it out immediately. Many printers have software or websites that allow you to do this very easily.
How Much Does Online Faxing Cost?
There are online fax providers that ask for a monthly payment to send a certain amount of faxes. For example, HelloFax charges $9.99 per month and gives you the freedom to send and receive up to thousands of faxes each month. VoIP providers like RingCentral also have virtual fax options using their virtual phone numbers. So if you’re already paying for their services, you might have faxing included.
Other services charge per page or per fax. Rates can range from a few cents per page to $1.99 per fax with a higher page limit. You should compare these services to see which is right for you based on the kinds of documents you expect to fax. EFax gives you a free trial of their faxing service, so give them a look.
If you rarely fax and only need to send one once in a while, there are some options out there that don’t charge you anything. Yes, it’s possible to send a fax for free! For instance, FaxZero lets you send up to 5 free faxes each day. The only catch is that they’ll put their branding on the cover letter to market their service to your recipient.
The Fax Isn’t Dead
It might surprise you to learn that in other countries faxes are still going strong. Especially in places where internet connectivity is not as ubiquitous as it is in the United States, you can find fax machines all over the place. Millions of machines are sold each year. Billions of documents are sent too. So, while yours may have collected dust over the years, plenty of other people are using theirs.
But don’t rush out and buy an expensive fax machine when all you need is a Gmail account and the help of one of the handy websites we mentioned. We’re going to review more of these email fax providers to give you a better idea of which one is right for you.
Don’t let a surprise fax hold up your business. Check out online fax service and create an account before you need a fax service, then you’ll be ready for your next fax emergency.