How to Receive Faxes Online Through Your Gmail Account
Faxing has evolved, nowadays you don't need a fax machine or even a dedicated fax line to receive faxes. Instead, you can opt to receive faxes as digital files straight on your Gmail inbox.
To receive fax through Gmail, you'll need the aid of an online fax service. These are services that among other features let you fax by email. They connect an online fax number to your Gmail address, delivering faxes automatically in just a few seconds as PDF attachments.
This way of receiving fax documents has proven to be a great tool for small businesses, given that it provides a fast and cheaper alternative than fax machines. Fax services only charge you a small fee per month to send and receive hundreds of documents, and there are ways to get started at zero cost.
If you have a Gmail address you can use it for faxing too, although we'd recommend creating a new one just to receive faxes and keep them neatly organized. Are you ready to start receiving digital faxes?
- 1Sign up with an online fax service. eFax and RingCentral both let you receive fax online free with Gmail through a 30-day free trial account.
- 2Pick between a local and toll-free fax number. This number will be in charge of grabbing transmissions for fax machines, to convert them to a PDF file.
- 3Enter the Gmail address you'll be using for incoming faxes.
- 4Complete your registration by adding your account details.
- 5That's it! You are ready to receive faxes!
You can change the Gmail address associated to your fax number at any time, and even use other types of emails. To do so, enter your online fax account's settings area and look for a section called "Inbound faxes" and add the address(es) allowed to fax with the service.
A copy of incoming faxes will also be stores on your online fax account.
Setting up Alerts When Receiving Fax with Gmail
Receiving faxes is an important feature of online fax services. But unlike traditional lines that ring whenever you receive a new call, virtual lines work silently to deliver faxes straight to Gmail and your online fax account.
Constantly checking our inbox for new messages is not an effective use of our time, and there’s no need to do so. There are different alternatives that let you know whenever a fax arrives, you can receive notifications via:
- Gmail Desktop & Mobile Notifications
- Notifier Plugins
- Mobile App
Incoming Fax to Gmail Notifications for Desktop & Mobile
Gmail lets you receive notifications when you receive faxes straight from your browser by showing a small pop-up window and/or sound. You can also choose to enable notifications on your mobile phone using Gmail’s mobile app.
For this method to work properly, you should use Gmail to fax exclusively. Don't mix common emails with faxes.
Here’s how to enable desktop notifications when you receive fax to Gmail:
- Go to Settings (shown as a gear icon on the upper-right part of your screen).
- Under the General tab, you’ll find the “Desktop Notifications” option. You can choose whether to be alerted of all emails or just those labeled as important.
- Click on “Click here to enable desktop notifications for Gmail”.
- Chrome users will need to click “Allow” on the pop-up window. If you are using a Firefox browser, click instead on “Always show notifications” when the pop-up appears.
- Save your settings.
That’s it, you are ready to receive incoming email fax alerts. Be sure you keep your browser open at all times to avoid missing faxes.
For Gmail mobile notifications:
- Open the Gmail app
- Tap on Menu > Settings
- Select the account you’ll use to receive faxes.
- Tap on Notifications > Inbox notifications
- Now simply set up how you want to be notified.
This method is easier to implement given that we are all accustomed at receiving notifications on different smartphone apps.
Receiving Alerts on a Mobile Fax App
If you are using an online fax service that comes with its own app, then you can receive fax on Gmail and on an iPhone or Android phone in an easier way.
To use a mobile fax app, download it on your phone and login using your credentials. Once in the app head to the settings area and configure the type of alert you want to receive. Now every time a new fax comes your way, you can tap on the notification message and you’ll be taken directly to the fax contents.
This is a good choice for people who want to keep their Gmail app for personal messages, but not all services have corresponding apps. Among those that do we can recommend eFax, MyFax and RingCentral. You may find other stand-alone fax apps on the market, but currently they only let you send faxes.
Receiving SMS Notifications
If you are using a service with no app, or don’t like the idea of having to install a new app on your phone just to receive faxes, you can opt to be notified via SMS text messages.
To access this feature you’ll need to enter your online fax account and configure it via the settings page. On the “incoming faxes area” check the option to enable SMS alerts. Then enter the cell phone number that will be associated to your Google fax account.
Note that these are only message alerts; you won’t be able to read incoming fax contents directly on the text message, but you’ll find a link that will take you to the corresponding page on your fax account.
Third-Party Gmail Fax Notification Add-Ons
If you prefer, you can use a third-party solution to notify you faxes you receive fax online with Gmail email on your desktop computer. Some of them are very flexible, letting you customize how these notifications are presented and even helping you work with different Gmail accounts at the same time.
If you are worried about your privacy, these add-ons may give you an additional signal of trust given the fact that they don’t track the fax messages you receive.
Notifier for Gmail is an open-source extension that is free to download, and include features such as: multiple account integration, RSS technology, support for Gmail tags and labels, browser integration and you can use it without giving your login credentials.
Another working add-on is Checker Plus for Gmail. This option has plenty of advanced options like text-to-speech, multiple Gmail accounts, voice notifications, fax managing through labels, monitoring of custom labels and an offline mode. If you want more configuration settings, this add-on is heavily recommended and it’s free to download.
Benefits of Receiving Fax to Gmail Alerts
- Keep track of your faxes. If faxing is an important part of your business, you can’t afford to miss a single fax.
- Receive faxes on the go. If you are a person who is constantly away from the office, receiving notifications through a mobile app or Gmail’s app is a must.
- No more waiting next to a fax machine. Incoming fax alerts arrive once the fax has been successfully received, they are ready to be received. If you use a machine you need to wait until the transmission has been completed.
Are There Other Alternatives to Receiving Fax Via Gmail?
One of the greatest things about replacing your fax machine with an online fax service is that you can receive fax to Gmail. The quick conversion process provided by a service is able to turn incoming fax (which usually arrives as a TIFF file) into a PDF file in just a matter of seconds.
The resulting document is then attached to an email and sent to you. From your email interface you can read it, download it or print it.
But this is not the only way to receive faxes online. In this article we will explore three different alternatives, each one with its pros and cons:
- Using your online fax account
- Using a cloud storage service
- Using a cell phone app
Using these options doesn’t mean that you have to stop receiving fax by Gmail. Instead, use them to complement the delivery of faxes to your email.
Receive Fax Online on Your Fax Service's Dashboard
The simplest way to read incoming faxes is by going to your online fax service account. Each service has a member’s area where you can view and download faxes. Login to your fax service and search for the section called “Incoming Faxes” or “View Faxes” (it should be located on the Menu bar). In there you will find a list of all the faxes you have received with your number, along with details about the transmission like date, sender and amount of time it took to complete.
If you want, you can read faxes directly from that page, but you can also print or download it for future reference. There’s no need to mess with the settings, this is the default way of receiving faxes online. As a matter of fact, what you are receiving on your email are copies of these faxes.
All online fax services keep your faxes stored in their servers, but not all of them offer unlimited storage, which can become a problem when you have a big number of faxes in your account. In those cases it’s better to download your faxes on an external disk, so they can be accessed even when you don’t have an Internet connection.
Receive Fax on a Cloud Storage Account
If you need to keep incoming faxes available at all time you can choose to automatically move arriving faxes to a cloud storage service account.
You can do this manually if you want to receive faxes from your inbox to your Google Drive account. Just click on the Drive icon that appears when you hover your mouse over a PDF fax attachment. From there you can organize them into folders.
Some services let you skip the steps above and send a copy of your faxes straight to a cloud storage account. To enable this, go to the settings area of your preferred provider and add your Google Drive, Dropbox or Box account.
When setting up this option, you’ll need to authorize the fax service to communicate with your cloud storage account. From there, a copy of all incoming faxes will be automatically added to your virtual hard drive. You can even set up a specific folder to contain your faxes.
Use this method when you need faxes to be accessible anywhere and to multiple users. This alternative is perfect for team-based projects, where multiple people need to have access to faxed filed.
Receive Faxes on Your Cell Phone
How do you receive faxes when you are constantly on the move? With a mobile fax app!
Despite the fact that you can also fax on the go using Gmail’s mobile app, mobile fax apps give you more features and make receiving and sending faxes a smoother experience. These apps have come a long way since they first appeared some years ago, and today you can fax without connectivity issues or the app crashing in the middle of composing a new fax.
Just by tapping on View Faxes you can access your entire fax log and read the contents within the app. Incoming faxes can be stored, forwarded, printed over a wireless network and even signed electronically. Once your digital signature has been added to the fax, it can be sent again easily.
Use this method when your job requires to be most of the time away from the office. It’s like keeping a virtual fax machine in your pockets at all times!
TIP: You can enable mobile notifications and hear a sound every time a new fax arrives.
How to Store The Faxes You Receive on Gmail
Once you start to receive fax to email, you need to pay attention at how you are storing incoming faxes. You should keep all your faxes stored in one place, especially if you need to access past faxes regularly.
The beauty of working with digital faxes is that we can have more than way of saving our faxes. Use them in combination to always have a backup of your stored files. There are three ways you can store your faxes:
- Keeping them in your online fax account.
- Saving them on your computer’s hard drive.
- Saving them on a virtual hard drive.
Let’s learn more about them.
Store Faxes in your Online Fax Account
This is the easiest way of storing your faxes because it is done automatically. Once you sign up for a service, you’ll receive space to archive your faxes. After you receive fax with Gmail, a copy will be stored in this space. To read them you only need to go login to your individual fax service and find the section labeled as “View Faxes”.
Receiving fax online on your dashboard offers advantages, especially when it comes to advanced features. Within your account you can search your faxes by taking into accounts factors such as date, fax number, name and more. You can also add quick tags to your faxes to sort them by keyword or category. For example, you can have a tag just for invoices and keep your finances in order. After you have found the document you were looking for, you can download it, print it or forward it. Other services let you set a storage period, to decide how long your faxes will be kept in your account.
Services handle fax storage or archiving in different ways. RingCentral Fax for example keeps your faxes stored for an unlimited period, but you can only store 200 faxes. MyFax on the other hand is a service that lets you store an unlimited number of faxes.
Store Received Gmail Fax on Your Computer’s Hard Drive
Once you have received a fax to Gmail, you can download it on your computer’s disk.
Go to Gmail, open the email fax message that you wish to download and hover over the PDF attachment. You’ll see some options pop up. Download it by clicking on the arrow pointing down (the Download button). Pick a folder in your disk and that’s it! You can also download faxes directly from your online fax account.
Keeping the faxes you receive in your hard drive gives you the possibility of accessing them even when you are offline. We recommend to use this alternative in combination with another one, so you have a backup in case something happens to your drive or your computer.
Remember that the goal of storing faxes is to keep them organized. For this purpose create a new folder and name it “Online Fax”, then store faxes in sub-folders by month. You can also use specialized software that lets you tag and organize PDFs, like Benubird or Zotero.
Store Gmail Faxes in a Virtual Hard Drive
If you prefer to keep all your received faxes in the cloud, you can do so by using a virtual hard drive service with Google Drive, Dropbox, Box and other similar alternatives. This alternative lets you access your faxes anywhere as long as you have an Internet connection using your computer, phone or tablet. Since it is all stored on virtual drives, you won’t be using your hard drive’s space, and documents will be kept securely.
Storing a Gmail fax this way also lets you share it. You can set a folder in your hard drive account to be shared with other people like for example members of the same work-team. Fax services let you share a Gmail fax number with up to 5 people, but with this method you can reach more.
If you receive fax to email, you can store your documents on your Google Drive account by clicking on the icon next to the download button, on the attachment section. This will automatically move your fax to your virtual space, from you can put it in the corresponding folder.
Other services need to be integrated by logging into your online fax account. On your account settings page, look for cloud integration to receive faxes and pick the service you want to use to store your faxes. After that you’ll need to authorize the communication between fax service - cloud storage service so a copy of your faxes can be sent straight to your virtual drive.
Note that this is an advanced feature that not all services have. Among those that do we can recommend eFax and RingCentral
Benefits of Storing Your Faxes Digitally
- Keeps documents easily organized. Digital files are easy to store in a variety of ways and you can keep copies as backup by a combination of methods. Keeping your faxes in one place is the best way to organize them.
- Receive fax without wasting paper. Forget about wasting thousands of paper sheets every month. It doesn’t only affects negatively the environment, but physical documents also require physical space in the form of cabinets and folders. You can receive fax on Gmail and have them all stored in a small USB file.
- Never lose a fax. By using a combination of the alternatives we have presented in this article, you’ll never have to worry about losing a fax ever again. Simply search your email, hard drive, virtual drive or you fax-to-Gmail account and find it in a short amount of time.
The most important thing you need to receive fax in Gmail, is to have a virtual fax number that converts the faxes into digital documents.
If you already have a fax number through a dedicated land line, you can keep it and move it to a digital platform. You'll have to request fax number porting, a process that takes a few days to complete while your number is propagated through the Internet. During those days, you can use a temporary fax number and avoid missing faxes.
If you don't have a fax number yet, you can choose between a local and a toll-free one. The availability of local numbers will depend on the city and country you are in, although if you are in the USA or Canada you will not have any problems finding them. These two types of numbers are offered for free with each new account.