As amazing as this may be to people under 30, many Mac users still need to send and receive faxes. That’s especially true for people who regularly deal with government agencies that won’t accept email, or email attachments, because of security concerns, or those bound by HIPPA guidelines. Certain industries, like construction, also still rely heavily on faxes. Yes, it’s silly to use 19th century fax technology in 2016, but you try convincing a government agency to change its ways.
Lots of these folks have been using an Internet-based fax service to send and receive faxes via email, as faxing via email is easier and faster than using a standalone fax machine or modem. Plus, faxing via the Internet doesn’t require that you maintain a separate fax telephone line or that you keep your computer on all the time.
One of the most popular of these Internet fax services was MaxEmail, which Adam Engst recommended over a decade ago in “Replacing eFax with MaxEmail” (4 April 2005). But MaxEmail was recently purchased by J2Global, the people behind eFax, and many MaxEmail subscribers have had bad experiences with J2Global/eFax.
Many MaxEmail users aren’t happy about suddenly becoming eFax customers — particularly those who already switched once from eFax to MaxEmail. Some have already received an email notification from MaxEmail because their contracts are nearing an end, telling them that their prices will be rising precipitously. Some users are reporting a price increase of over 500 percent!
Lots of MaxEmail users are now looking for an alternative Internet fax service that’s reliable and easy to use. I’ve been using such a service for years now: SRFax.
As a long-time user of SRFax, I wanted to see if I could get a deal for Mac users who want to switch. The company offered me a $20 credit for every Mac user I could convince to sign up (the same offer is available to any SRFax subscriber), but I don’t want any compensation for this. So instead, SRFax offered to give the $20 as a credit to each new user. Once again, I have no financial stake in this. I’m just a happy SRFax customer.
SRFax Plans and Pricing -- To receive this $20 credit on any of the company’s plans, sign up using this link.
For a home user with minimal faxing needs, SRFax charges $36 per year, which includes 25 inbound or outbound pages each month, with additional pages priced at 10 cents each. The next plan up costs $66 per year and provides 200 pages per month with additional pages billed at 6 cents per page. The highest level business plan costs $435 per year for 2500 pages per month.
SRFax does not charge any fees for setup, but does charge a one-time fee of $25 to port an existing fax number to SRFax.
SRFax Signup and Usage -- Signing up for SRFax takes only a few minutes. On the signup page there is a radio button to indicate if you would like to port your existing fax number to SRFax. If you select that option, your account will be set up with a temporary toll free number until SRFax ports your old number, which will then replace the temporary number.
Not all fax numbers are portable to SRFax, but the company’s Fax Number Portability page lets you check if your number can be ported. At least one MaxEmail number I checked was portable.
If your fax number is portable, you can download the documents required for porting. The porting process takes 10 to 15 business days to complete. You won’t experience any downtime during this process and SRFax’s staff will inform you of the day that the port will take place.
Faxing using SRFax couldn’t be easier. You don’t need to download or install anything. Follow these steps:
In your standard email app, create a new message just like you normally would.
In the To field, enter the destination fax telephone number followed by
Attach the document(s) you want to send as a fax to your email message.
Supported file types include Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, PDF, plain text, HTML, and many others. You can attach as many documents as you like to one message and SRFax will fax them in the order they’re attached.
That’s it! Once your fax has been sent successfully, SRFax notifies you with an email receipt.
Alternatives for Infrequent Faxers -- If you send only a handful of faxes per year, you probably don’t want to pay an annual fee.
The following services allow you to pay per outgoing fax without any contractual commitment. They all provide Web-based interfaces, rather than letting you send faxes via email. Unfortunately, you can’t receive faxes with them (but read on for solutions to that problem):
FaxFresh: This service is perhaps the simplest, asking for the recipient’s fax number and the PDF file you want to fax. It charges $0.25 per page, with a minimum of $1.99 per transaction. FaxFresh even has a free Mac app!
FaxZero: Your cover pages will have FaxZero branding, but the service is free for up to five faxes per day, of 3 pages max. If that’s not sufficient, you can pay $1.99 per fax of up to 25 pages and avoid the brand on your cover pages. FaxZero accepts PDF and Word files.
GotFreeFax: This service lets you type your fax without having to upload a document, although it also takes PDF, Word, and JPEG files. It’s free for up to two faxes per day, of 3 pages max. If you need more, you can pay $0.98 for up to 10 pages, $1.98 for 11–20 pages, or $2.98 for 21–30 pages.
If you need to receive the occasional fax, there are a few other options as well:
eFax Free: eFax will try to get you to upgrade to the paid eFax Plus, but if you need to receive 10 or fewer pages per month, the eFax Free service should let you do that at no cost.
FaxBetter: This service provides a toll-free number and charges nothing for receiving up to 20 pages per month, but it takes 24 hours to set up a new number and you must receive a fax every 7 days to keep the number.
FaxBurner: For those who mostly use an iPhone or iPad, check out the free FaxBurner app for iOS. The company’s free service provides a toll-free fax number that’s good for 24 hours, and it lets you receive up to 25 pages per month and send up to 5 pages per month. It also offers email-to-fax support. For $9.97 per month, you can send and receive up to 500 pages and you get a permanent fax number.
If you have another favorite Internet fax service, let us know in the comments!
[Randy B. Singer has been writing about the Macintosh for close to 30 years. He has several Web sites, the most popular of which is currently Mac OS X Routine Maintenance.]