Google Fax: How to Send and Receive Faxes with a Google Fax Number
Before Google even existed, and for many years, faxing required you not only to buy a fax machine, but also invest in everything that involves having one: the installation of a dedicated fax line, the purchase of supplies for the machine and its regular maintenance. The mere fact of implementing this technology required spending extra resources and time.
Nowadays things are so different, that it’s possible to get a working fax number in a matter of minutes.
We have advanced so much in the field of Internet fax, that we can use a free online fax number to send and receive faxes directly on your Gmail account, without having to buy a fax machine or paper supplies. In this article you will learn how to fax using Google services and get a free fax number!
What Is a Google Fax Number?
A Google fax number is an online fax number that is linked to your Gmail address, and lets you send and receive faxes through it.
Now, Google doesn't offer a fax service so right now, the only way to get a Google fax number is by using one of the third party online fax services on the market. These are companies that basically let you fax over Internet using your email, without having to buy additional equipment. They use a technology known as FOIP, which lets convert incoming analog faxes into digital files and vice versa.
When you sign up with an online fax service, you get to pick your own fax number and the Gmail account you want it to be associated with. Most fax services will give you the option between choosing a toll-free fax number or a local fax number. One of the best things about getting a fax number this way is that it is ready to be used in just a few minutes.
A sinlge fax number can be linked to 5 different email addresses at the same time, which is perfect if different people must have access to incoming fax.
Understanding How Google Fax Numbers Work
For the user, a Google fax number will automatically receive faxes on a Gmail account, so they can be read electronically. But what happens in the background before that?
When someone sends you a fax, she/he will have to dial your virtual fax number. There will be no difference the person sending you the fax, but this fax number sends the transmission through a digital line to powerful fax servers. It's on these servers that the fax documents will be converted to a digital file, more specifically a PDF which can be opened on any computer or mobile device.
Once the document is converted, it is included as an attachment in an email and then sent to your Gmail account. From there you can download, read or print it as you like. This process takes only a few seconds to complete, and is 100% secure (even more than traditional faxing!).
Can I Get a Free Fax Number?
Online fax services have been around for quite some time now. These are services that charge you an affordable fee to be able to send and receive a certain amount of pages per month. For this, they provide you a virtual fax number in charge of redirecting incoming faxes to your Gmail account.
Most of these services let you create a free account for 30 days. What’s great about this is that these accounts come with all the set of features included with the service. You basically get a basic plan for a full month, and among these features is the availability of a free Google fax number to receive fax.
At the moment of signing up you’ll be asked to enter the email address you want to use for receiving faxes, and then you’ll need to pick the number associated with the account. There are tow option: a local or a toll-free number.
The only caveat of this method is that you need to enter your credit card information. But you don’t need to worry, they won’t charge you any fee to your credit card unless you keep using your account after the month has passed. Just make sure you cancel it before the trial period and you won’t have any problems. Also, it is a good idea to stick with reputable online fax vendors such as eFax, RingCentral Fax, etc.
What Type of Fax Number Can I Pick?
Having the right type of Google fax number number is very important in some industries, so don’t skip this info! Let’s get started!
There are 3 types of online fax numbers you can use to fax:
Local Fax Numbers
These are the ordinary Google fax numbers that are used across the USA to send and receive faxes. If you are in the same area you just fax to the seven-digit number, but people outside the area (but inside the USA) need to include the number 1 followed by the area code.
Toll-Free Fax Numbers
These are fax-to-email numbers that are free to reach, and are billed for incoming calls. Not so long ago, the only way to request them was through your phone company, using a physical line. Now, services are able to offer numbers with different toll-free prefixes including: 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, 844 and 833.
Note that these prefixes are for a US-based fax number. If you plan to get a toll-free fax number for another country it is best to talk to your provider first and see what you options are.
A vanity number is a special kind of Google fax numbers because they are not offered right away when you create an account, yet you can request one of these for an additional fee (RingCentral, for example, charges you a $30 setup fee).
Vanity numbers are simply numbers that spell a certain word. I’m sure you have seen them before, they look like this: 1-800-DOCTORS, 313-KANSASFC, etc.
Porting a Google Voice Fax Number
Changing your fax number and updating your contacts can be a real pain in the you-know-where, especially when you have had a fax number for years. In these cases we recommend you move your current number to a digital platform.
If you wish to fax with your Google Voice number, this is way to do it.
The number porting is done through Google fax services, taking advantage that they have already relationships with phone companies across the United States in some countries around the World.
To start you need to request the porting process to your current fax service. You may be asked to pay an additional fee to complete the process.
By porting a number you are moving it from a landline to a virtual line. This means your number will now work over an Internet connection, using what is called Fax Over Internet Protocol, or FoIP.
Now, because this number works over the Internet, it’s not just a matter of quickly changing the company handling the number. The process may take a few days to complete, until the information has been propagated across the Web.
Services know this may cause interruptions and problems when trying to reach your line, that’s why they give you a temporary fax number. This number will forward incoming faxes to a Gmail account while the propagation is completed. Once the process is finished you'll be able to fax online.
Recommended Online Fax Services
A good fax provider has to be able to easily provide a Google fax number and at the same time provide the features you need to speed up your faxing tasks. Stay away from services that promise low prices but then want to charge you hefty set-up and overage fees.
Here is the best Google fax service we can recommend to get started. It allows you to create a free account in a few steps, so you can link your Gmail account to a fax number very quickly.
eFax is the biggest fax service on the planet, offering virtual fax numbers in dozens of countries around the Globe. With flexible plans, and fully featured free trials, eFax is the perfect service for those who want a hassle-free online fax experience. It integrates easily with Google tools including Gmail, Google Drive and Docs, and their mobile fax app is the best one in the market, letting you keep in touch with your faxes from anywhere.
Getting a Google fax number with eFax is pretty easy, just select the number you want and your country, and then enter the Gmail address you want it to be associated with. After a few minutes, your line will be set up and ready to receive digital fax.
2. RingCentral Fax
RingCentral offers a complete line of virtual office products, including online fax. This is one of our the best Google fax services because it is always at the forefront in the field of email-faxing, providing advanced functions that help you send and receive faxes easily, like the ability to fax with Google products (a Gmail account, Google Drive, Google Docs), fax scheduling, and a custom mobile fax app to fax from anywhere without a fax machine.
They offer toll-free and local fax number alternatives in all the cities of USA, Canada and United Kingdom. As a plus, their customer support is top-notch. Their basic faxing plan it's good to start sending and receiving hundreds of fax pages per month.
Sending and Receiving Faxes Through Google
With an online fax service you can both send and receive fax using Google, using your Gmail account. Let’s take a look at how this works:
Sending a Fax from Google
To compose and send a fax you need nothing but your Gmail account, just make sure it’s linked to an online fax service. Log into Gmail and follow these steps:
- Step 1: Compose a new email message.
- Step 2: Enter the recipient's fax number followed by @ on the TO field, like this: firstname.lastname@example.org. Use the domain provided by your Google fax service, and don’t forget to add the country and area codes if needed. As an example, with RingCentral Fax this is what a sample number should look like: email@example.com. If you want to send Gmail fax to multiple recipients, separate them with a comma.
- Step 3: Attach the file you want to fax to the email message. In Gmail, this can be done by clicking the paperclip on the composing window. This file will be converted to a fax image.
- Step 4: If your fax needs a cover sheet or cover page, enter the text on the Body field, or the Subject field, both work OK for this purpose. The cover page will precede your fax.
- Step 5: Check that the information is correct and press the Send button to begin sending a fax.
After you send a fax, you receive a confirmation email and a copy of your message on your Gmail inbox and your online fax account. You can send faxes using different types of files, inlcuding Word document files, PDF files, BMP, JPG and many more. If the fax can't come through, you'll receive an error message in your email with more details about why this happened.
You can learn more about Gmail fax on our guide for sending fax from Gmail.
Receiving Faxes on Google
Once your number is linked to your Gmail address, all incoming faxes will be automatically forwarded to your inbox, even those faxes that are sent to you through a fax machine using a common land line. Once you've received faxes, a copy of them will also be sent to your online fax account, you can access it through your web browser.
Incoming fax will arrive to your inbox as a PDF attachment. Services use this file format because it can be opened on practically any device for free. Most operating systems have a built-in way to read PDF.
If you are always on the go, you can also download your service’s app and receive fax on your phone, your dedicated fax number forwards incoming fax to your app. To learn more about setting up Google fax alerts, we recommend you read our guide on receiving fax to Gmail.
Faxing from Google Drive
Google Drive has become one of the preferred cloud storage services on the Web, it not only lets us store documents in the cloud in a simple way, but it also has useful tools to compose work documents such as Google Docs and Google Sheets. If you are accustomed to working on this platform, you should know that you can send faxes straight from Google Drive, without having to take any extra steps.
This is possible thanks to Google Drive add-ons, which you can install with just a few clicks. Services with add-ons available for download will enable a new sidebar for faxing. In this sidebar, you will find a form that you just need to fill out with additional information to send your fax. The digital fax service provider will grab this file and convert it to fax automatically.
Not all services will have this option though, it's better to ask before starting a subscription. To use the add-on, install it and simply navigate to the menu bar, and click on "Add-ons". A new sidebar will pop-up, fill it and check the number is correct, whenever you are ready to send it then just press Send.
Is Google Fax Secure?
Security to send and receive faxes is extremely important, especially if you work in fields like law, healthcare and finance, where there are strict regulations governing the sharing and faxing of sensitive information.
Organizations of all kinds still choose fax as the preferred method to share documents, even when sharing a file these days is as easy as using an instant messaging app. That’s because they value security above else. Despite all the conveniences of instant messaging, we have been proven time and time again that mass-oriented online messaging technologies are not as safe as we would want to.
When you send faxes with a machine things are relatively secure. The document travels directly to its recipient using an analog phone line service, and there is no chance that this information gets intercepted. On top of that, you get a confirmation when your fax is fully printed on the other end, unlike modern apps that have the option of hiding this information.
But what happens in the case of online faxing? If we are using the email channel, does this means that our documents are vulnerable? In this article we will take a look at these questions. You’ll learn that email faxing is actually more secure than using a fax machine.
This is what happens when you send faxes:
- You compose an email message with an attachment
- The email goes your online fax service’s fax servers, where the attachment is converted into a fax file.
- The service encrypts this information and sends it to the receiver’s fax machine.
As you can see, you are not sending the fax to another email. You send it for conversion on the service’s fax servers which act as a protective “wall” against interceptions. The document goes then through additional security measures before reaching the fax machine.
The only way other people can read a fax you send is if your email information is compromised. That’s why it is recommended you use a dedicated email for online faxing strong password and change it at least every month. Gmail lets you know at the moment of creating your account if your password meets the strength criteria.
On the other hand the online fax service gives you maximum security. With additional options designed to ensure your documents arrive safely and privately.
Security Features of Email Fax Services
Password protection. On your service’s settings area, you can add password protection for faxes arriving to your email. enter and confirm your password, and next time a fax arrives your email, it will contain PDF protection, meaning only you can read its contents. The password can be changed or turned off at any time without accessing Gmail.
Encryption. Before your fax travels from the fax servers to the receiver, they will be protected with point-to-point encryption. This type of encryption adds a cover to your data, effectively hiding it.
Automatic fax removal. You can set your faxes to be deleted from your account after they have been opened. This option can remain active for scheduled amount of time.
Unique file types. There are some fax services that have developed their own apps to send and receive faxes with encryption. They basically deliver your fax in a unique file format, that you won’t be able to read unless you use the app or program. It’s a very ingenious way of handling additional fax security, although it depends on the operating system you are using.
Access Control. Corporate online fax services let you access all your faxes from a virtual drive. This cloud storage is protected using 256-bit AES encryption.
What About HIPAA Compliant Faxes?
If you work on healthcare, you must ensure your faxes are not only 100% secure, but are also HIPAA-compliant. The HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which states that:
“Individually identifiable health information should be protected with reasonable administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to ensure its confidentiality, integrity, and availability and to prevent unauthorized or inappropriate access, use, or disclosure.”
Luckily, the best fax services are able to provide this kind of security, but you have to ask for it at the moment of creating your account, or by opening what is known as a “corporate” account. The service must hand you a “Business Associate Agreement” for this purpose. In this agreement your online fax service provider will be determined as your HIPAA fax partner. The agreement is required by HIPAA HITECH.
Benefits of Faxing Online
For those who want to get rid of a fax machine, using an online fax company is an easy and fast solution to send and receive faxes. With an online fax number you can receive a fax straight on your computer without any type of physical installation.
What are the benefits you enjoy when you get a Google fax number? There are many ways online faxing will improve your faxing experience:
- It’s faster.
- It replaces a dedicated landline.
- It’s affordable to fax from Google.
- You can have one just minutes from now.
- Access your faxes digitally through an online fax service.
- Improves security.
- You can choose between different types of numbers.
- It’s available for international companies.
Let’s take an in-depth look at each one of these benefits.
With a Google fax number you can send and receive faxes automatically, and it does this much faster than a fax machine. Instead of waiting for the document to be printed, it is forwarded as digital form to your Gmail address.
You’ll also be free from problems such as paper jams and poor document printing results, which can take precious minutes of your time. It only takes a couple of minutes to compose and send a fax.
2. Acts as a Dedicated Fax Line
A fax machine needs to be connected to a dedicated line service to avoid interruptions during transmissions. Sure, you can use a common phone line service but be prepared to miss some faxes along the way! Things get worse when you have a home office, you could be in the middle of a fax transmission when someone uses the phone number. The result? Yo have to request the document all over again.
A Gmail fax number works just like a dedicated line. This number is used exclusively for fax transmissions and it remains active all day, every day even when your computer’s been turned off. People sending you faxes won't notice a difference between a fax service and a physical dedicated line.
3. It’s Affordable and Ready to Be Used in Minutes
Speaking of dedicated lines, to have a new landline you need to request it from your phone by paying a fee. Then you have to wait a few days or weeks until the technicians come to your office and add your line so you can connect it to your fax machine. In the meantime, you won’t be able to receive faxes.
An online fax number, on the other hand, is given to you immediately at the moment of signing up for a service. Enter your details, the email address you want to receive fax online, pick your number and then start faxing right away.
The virtual numbers are also more affordable and ready to be used when you need a fax delivered. You are just basically just paying for the service, the number is given to your for free as long as you have an active membership with a provider.
4. Deliver faxes digitally
Why keep using paper when we can simply read any fax document on our screen? A digital number lets you get started with paperless fax, reducing the amount of paper waste and consumption in your office. Fax a PDF or any other type of digital documents from your chosen Google fax service.
Paperless offices are the future. As global warming continues to increase, it's our duty to use technology that helps us reduce the amount of damage we are doing to the Planet. Upon receiving a fax document you can choose to print it only if it's needed. There also the option to fax from Google Drive and other cloud fax providers, letting you pull documents form the cloud seamlessly.
5. It's Safe
Digital faxes are even more secure than fax machines. Not only fax providers include security measures like advanced encryption and secure transmissions, but they are also able to give you a HIPAA compliant service, which comes in handy if you are using fax for sensitive information like patient info, if you work on the healthcare industry.
Incoming faxes can arrive in a special format that is only readable by the app provided by your service, and you can easily add passwords and watermarks to incoming and outgoing PDF files.
6. Multiple Number Options
You have 4 types of numbers you can use to send and receive faxes: a toll-free number, a local number, a vanity number, or you can keep using your Google Voice number to fax if you want. This last option is called number porting, a process that will transfer your number from your phone company to a virtual fax server. All of them work the same, it's the perfect way to get a dedicated line.
7. International availability
Plenty of fax services have relationships with foreign phone companies, allowing them to offer numbers in other territories. An international fax number lets companies from other countries use the service, and can help expanding your company’s presence.
For international number availability, refer to the FAQ section of your preferred email fax service. There are companies like eFax and MyFax with numbers available in dozens of countries around the Globe. Just keep in mind that not all countries offer toll-free and vanity varieties of numbers.
8. Easy to Use and Get Started
If you want to get a fax number that works with Google right now, simply head to the service of your preference and create a new account. It's as easy as following a few information fields!
Even if you don't want to invest in a monthly fax subscription you can obtain a number for free by creating a free trial account. Most services let you test out their plans for a month, including an online fax number. They may ask you for credit card info, but they won't charge you anything during that month, it's just a way of preventing fax fraud and spam.