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Faxing with an all-in-one printer
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Standalone fax machines from range in price from around $22 (Sharp UX-B750) to upwards of $560 (Panasonic KX-FG2451), depending on features. All include a phone, some include an answering machine. Not everyone needs a fax machine, but almost everyone will have to send a fax at one time or another. Your local Staples and UPS Stores offer this service, and there are online faxing services like and, and they typically offer free 30-day trials.

Any Windows or Macintosh computer equipped with a fax modem (e.g., the TRENDnet 56K USB 2.0 Phone, Internet and Fax Modem, $26.99/Amazon) can fax open documents and images. Just make sure the fax modem you choose is compatible with your operating system. This function has been a part of computer operating systems since the middle 1990s. After it's set up, fax service will appear in the list of printers available to the system. You just need to select to print to it and a form will appear with spaces for the number to which to fax, and you can add a cover page if you'd like.

But there's an even easier way. All-in-one printers typically include a scanner, and so, copier and fax capabilities as well. As a group, they're not very expensive when ordered from Amazon, for example. Prices shown include shipping:

  • Epson WF-2540 at $89.00
  • Canon Pixma MX452 at $59.00
  • Brother MFCJ450DW at $94.99

These all-in-ones print sharp, clear text, but if you need to them to print even sharper, color-correct photos as well, you may consider the Epson C11CD29201 at $149.99, or the Canon Pixma MX922 at $99.99.  All of these units come with the software needed for printing, scanning and faxing. (By the way, HP makes reliable all-in-ones as well, but the software that comes with HP products is generally unfortunate and to be avoided.)

The fax programs provided with all-in-ones can be used very much as described above using the applications included with Windows or Mac OS X, but here's the easier part: your all-in-one can function just like a standalone fax machine, provided you've connected it to a phone line:

1. Place the original on the scanner glass;
2. Press the Fax button on the printer console;
3. At the printer's prompt, enter the telephone number of the fax machine on the receiving end;
4. Press a Start button (color or black and white);
5. The printer will scan the first page, prompt you for additional pages if you have any, and finally dial the number and send the fax. If the number is busy, it will tell you so, and then wait a few minutes and dial it again until the job is done. Just like a fax machine.

Your printer can also automatically receive and print faxes when you set fax reception to Auto Answer mode. If you've connected a telephone, you can use the same phone line for faxes and voice calls. You can also set it to receive faxes manually. This allows you to check for a fax tone using the telephone, and then press a button on the printer to receive the fax. Just make sure to load paper in your product and to select your fax settings before receiving a fax.

John can set up your all-in-one printer and get you started with faxing. He awaits your call.
May 8, 2014

John G. Thomas,  your all-natural geek for

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