How to Use Your Scanner as a Fax Machine
Do you want to be able to send faxes from home, without having to install another phone line, or share your current line? How would you like to be able to receive faxes anywhere that you have an internet connection? Or how about sending a fax via email? That is all possible now, using online fax services. The online fax service I’ve been using is RingCentral, an internet telephone service that also offers faxing.
Why RingCentral? After a couple of years of coping with the flakiness of fax over VOIP, I decided I wanted a solution that was more reliable. I also needed a solution that was simple, since I wouldn’t be the only one using it. RingCentral’s price was right, too, compared to other online fax services. Read on for my impressions of RingCental, and an explanation of how I I set up RingCentral’s fax service, so that I could easily use my Fujitsu ScanSnap S300 and my computer to send faxes. If you want to print faxes, you’ll also need a printer.
Setting up RingCentral to send faxes from my PC involved creating a new profile in my scanner’s software. When I select this profile from the system tray, any document run through my scanner will automatically start the RingCentral fax application, which only requires me to input the recipients fax number and click "send." The best part? RingCentral’s fax service is $2 per month cheaper than the $10 monthly fee I paid to Vonage for our fax line (actually, for a limited time it is only $6.39 a month for 300 incoming and outgoing pages). It’s also significantly cheaper than eFax, the big name player in the field. Here are the down and dirty details for setting up RingCentral, for those of you who want the specifics.
How to Do It
Setting up a Fujitsu ScanSnap S300 (the scanner that I use) for faxing is actually quite simple, and I imagine that the setup on other scanners will be similar. When you first install the software that comes with the ScanSnap, it installs an icon in your system tray. Simply click on that icon, and select "SCAN button settings."
In the window that appears, click the "Add Profile" button. Name your profile, and then click "OK" to return to the settings window.
With your new profile selected, go through each tab to change your settings. Under the Application tab, you will need to click the "Add" button to select RingCentral as the program for the scanner to launch. Click the "Browse" button under "Application Path." I browsed to the RingCentral installation directory (for me, it was C:\Program Files (x86)\RingCentral\RingCentral Internet Fax\), and selected the RCSendTo.Exe file. I named that "Send to Fax" in the Application box, and then clicked "OK" and "Close" to return to the settings screen.
Under the "Save" tab, I then picked a folder in which to save a copy of my outgoing faxes. Under the "Scanning" tab, my settings looked as follows:
Under the "File option" tab, I selected PDF as my file format. I used "Letter" as my paper size under the next tab, as I assume that the paper size will need to match the paper size of a normal paper fax machine. Finally, under the "Compression" tab, I set the slider at 3, right in the middle.
I’ve found that RingCentral’s fax service works remarkably well. In order to see the results of a sent fax myself, I’ve sent faxes to my office fax machine. They come through looking like any other fax, assuming you’ve configured the RingCentral Call Controller with your personal information. This is a bit hard to find. In the Call Controller, you need to select the fax button, then select the Options dropdown menu, then select "Options." In the menu that appears, you’ll see "Faxes" down the left column. Select that, and then click the "Personal Information" button and fill in your info.
This will put a proper header on your outgoing faxes. One caveat- I found that faxes sent to my office fax machine printed RingCentral’s master fax number in the footer of the fax. I assume my office fax machine has a caller ID of sorts, and puts that information in the footer. This wasn’t a dealbreaker for me, since my info still appeared in the header.
To make faxing more streamlined, you can also set RingCentral to use your contacts from your Outlook or Windows Mail address book. I don’t use Outlook or Windows Mail, so I’ve created a link to the Windows contacts folder on my taskbar, and add frequently-used contacts there. I located the contacts folder by typing "contacts" in the Windows 7 search box.
You can also send faxes via email, by entering the recipient’s fax number in the email address field, and adding "@rcfax.com" (for example, firstname.lastname@example.org). Your account settings page on the RingCentral website has a spot to input every email address from which you want to be able to fax.
RingCentral also has an iPhone app. The app is designed for all of RingCentral’s telephone services, but you can use it to see a log of faxes, to view your faxes, and to get push notifications of incoming faxes.
RingCentral does offer a free trial, but you have to provide a credit card number, even for the trial. At the time I did the trial, you could cancel your account right from the account settings page, with no need to call RingCentral. I assume this is still the case, but have no way to know for sure.
So far, so good. I’ve been using RingCentral for a couple of weeks, and it has worked perfectly. I had one support issue of my own creation, and RingCentral’s support team responded within 24 hours. I love the idea of receiving faxes even when away from home, and I love being able to send faxes from email. And, as noted, RingCentral is cheaper than my prior Vonage fax service.
Do you even fax anything in this day of digital communication? If so, do you use a normal fax machine, or have a different setup?