Sending faxes via email

· technology ·

Every now and then, I need to send something by that antiquated method of communication known as the Fax. It happens less and less, but sometimes it seems that there's no way around it. If it's a work matter, I just use the machine at work, but if it's personal my scruples (or stupidity) prevent me from sneaking personal faxes through the work machine.

The last time it happened, I managed to rummage out my old modem cable, hook my PowerBook up to the phone line, and use that to send a fax. It worked, but it was a bit of an inconvenient hassle. And if I ever get one of the new MacBooks, it won't have an internal modem^1^. Of course, I could get off my backside and walk to a shop that has a public fax machine, but they are expensive, and you're never sure if your transmission will get through, especially if you're sending something internationally.

There are no end of online services that allow you to receive and send faxes, the most popular of which is Yac. However, they tend to be aimed at the fairly high volume business user, and with most you need to pay a monthly fee to receive faxes. I really don't need the incoming fax facility (because I can always direct people to my work fax number), and I only need to send occasionally. What I needed was some kind of Pay-As-You-Go equivalent for sending faxes.

Eventually, I found InterFAX. They have a send-only bundle, where you can make a one-off payment of £10 for a stack of credits to send fax pages. The per page rate is pretty reasonable, given the convenience of the system (between 7 and 10p per page for faxes to Europe or the US), and it's easy to send them by email. You can either include your content in the message body, attach the documents you want faxed, or do both, using the message body as a cover page. There are also a number of geeky command switches that you can add to the subject to tweak the settings, which rather appealed to me. You get an automatic reply to your email address if the transmission is successful, which is reassuring. Finally, you can add a number of sending email addresses, which means that you can add a GMail address for emergencies, so that you can potentially send a fax from any computer.

^1^ This is fairly typical of my sometimes skewed thinking where technical issues are involved: let's try to find a highly technical solution to a problem that hasn't actually arisen yet.