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How to Fax in Lion

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Faxing has been around in one form or another since the mid-1800s, and while there’s no question that it’s disappearing from many businesses around the world, there are still industries that rely heavily on faxed documents, notably real estate and construction, where paper trails of signed documents remain important. Standalone fax machines aren’t going away any time soon, it’s relatively easy to find multifunction print/scan/fax devices, and Internet faxing has become commonplace, but it has become more difficult to fax using a modem attached to your telephone line.

That’s especially true for users of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, which deprecates faxing in several ways. First, the Print & Fax preference pane from 10.6 Snow Leopard is now called Print & Scan, but when you click the + button to add a device, you can still add a fax modem. Second, the Apple USB Modem (discontinued in 2009) won’t work in Lion because it relies on 32-bit drivers that don’t work (and thus aren’t included) in the 64-bit Lion.

Though I haven’t tested this, you can supposedly start Lion in 32-bit mode with these instructions for 10.6 Snow Leopard, and user moonchilddave reported in the MacRumors forum that the old 32-bit drivers for the modem can be copied over from Snow Leopard to Lion. Others had trouble with his procedure, but if you have an Apple USB Modem that you need for a very occasional fax, it’s worth a try moving the drivers over and restarting in 32-bit mode.

A better solution that doesn’t require restarting or fussing with old kernel extensions is simply to buy a new USB modem that does work in Lion. Reader James Cutler has confirmed for us that the US Robotics USR5637 modem works perfectly in Lion (you can download possibly unnecessary firmware and modem script updates from the US Robotics Web site, which previously reported this model as being “Lion 10.7 Ready”). In a thread in the Apple Support Communities, the Zoom 3095 modem is also reported to function under Lion. Both of these modems cost about $45.

These changes in Lion don’t affect us, since we rely on a now-discontinued Epson AcuLaser CX11NF multifunction printer for outgoing faxes of physical documents, and the MaxEmail Internet fax service for incoming faxes, which appears to be one of the cheapest around at $24 per year (for the “Lite Non-Local” fax-only plan). But your needs may vary, and if that includes sending and receiving faxes from your Mac running Lion, a compatible modem may be your best option.

I’ve received several queries about alternatives to Smile’s PageSender, which is full-featured fax software that provides capabilities well beyond just printing to fax in Mac OS X’s Print dialog. Smile tells me that they will continue to maintain PageSender for use with Snow Leopard, but have no plans to update it for Lion. As far as I’ve been able to discover, there is no comparable Lion-compatible fax software for individuals still in development; for groups that need a fax server, Soft Solutions has a beta of 4-Sight Fax Server that claims to be compatible with Lion. However, the cheapest package of 4-Sight Fax costs $495, so if you really don’t need a group fax solution, you might find it easier to set up an old Mac mini with Snow Leopard and PageSender.


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Comments about How to Fax in Lion

Glenn Fleishman  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-08-17 22:56
Adam first referred me to MaxEmail, and I've been paying them $15 per year for several years for the one fax a month or so I've needed to send or receive. For a buck or so a month, it saves me so much time in getting set up to fax. (That price buys you in an incoming phone number. You pay 5¢ a page (roughly, depending on a page's complexity) for outgoing faxes. Love them.
I went to MaxEmail and they are charging 9.95/month, 24/quarter or 80++ per year. Did I miss something?
Sorry, my bad. Found the 'lite' version that you cite, it's now $24/yr but still fair deal
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-08-18 18:45
Yes, I think the price has gone up, but it's possible Glenn was grandfathered in.
Glenn Fleishman  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-08-18 19:47
Ah, interesting. I figured I would be charged the prevailing price (as I don't have any special arrangement, and they literally don't know me from Adam), but I see that I was charged last year and will be charged this year $14.85. Must be a grandfathered deal.
You mentioned some hardware replacements for the Apple modem, what do you suggest to replace the wonderful PageSender Fax program that many have come to rely on?
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-08-18 14:56
I'm not aware of anything, but I'm looking into it. Any recommendations from others out there?
Jim Rea  2011-08-18 20:27
Another fax problem with Lion is the eFax service, which I guess is similar to MaxEMail. This has worked well for me for nearly a decade, but their client software is PPC last time I checked a couple of months ago. So perhaps I'll be switching to MaxEMail, sounds like it is cheaper also.
David Weintraub  2011-08-18 22:13
Something you don't mention: It might not be a software issues.

Faxing over IP/VOIP phone lines (which are becoming more common) may simply not work unless your ISP takes certain steps to allow it. And, even then, it can be iffy.

I spent almost a full day trying to get an HP OfficeJet to work. We finally had to slow the "modem" speed down to about 2400 bps. And, that was only after the ISP setup stuff on their end.

I remember a time when all the high tech people had three landlines in their house: Computer, Phone, and Fax. Now, many of these same people don't even have a single phone line.
Nicholas Barnard  2011-08-19 00:55
I used to work at a VoIP provider and we hated the faxing question.

I'm actually quite amazed those multifunction machines haven't been directly integrated with eFax or the like. It'd seem so much simpler.

The other thought I had back when I was at the VoIP provider, is that we should hack together (or get Cisco/Linksys) to hack together a fax modem that acts as a translation end point for faxes. The fax would be received, then converted into a PDF or TIFF in the customer's office, then transmitted digitally to the provider to be spat out via a fax modem again, bypassing the VoIP problem.

I also was going to recommend eFax for receiving. Hopefully they fix the PowerPC problem, but in the meantime I just threw eFax onto my Windows installation in VirtualBox.

For those who are really light on sending I recommend FaxZero -- Two, two page faxes to US Numbers for free every day, and $1.99 for upto 15 pages if your fax is more than 2 pages.

Andreas Frick  2011-08-19 06:50
There are similar problems with the software of my Draytek miniVigor 128 ISDN adapter, which I use, when I'm staying at my parents. The software is PPC, still doesn't use launchd and there is no fax support. Also there is a drawback with Apple's fax solution. It uses cups, so the pdf is converted to a universal raster image firstly and then into fax format. To avoid this intermediate step one has to install foomatic. But my old Nokia 6310i mobile phone can also send faxes. Unfortunately this is not enabled during paring of the phone using bluetooth. One has to do that separately.
jungle  2011-08-19 07:14
Not sure what is offered in US, but here in NZ I get a fax number included with my cellphone. People fax me, I ring my voicemail and forward to any handy fax...the one at work or my landline at home...moved the Apple USB modem to the old G3 laptop (also running Quicken). Handy as I don't need to leave the landline on fax answer, but just set it to answer on the spot when i forward from the mobile.
Joachim  2011-08-20 17:42
hmm I use a brother MFC-7820N (fax, laserprinter, scanner with Ethernet) at work , under 10.6.8 the included fax (and scanner) are accessibly thru print dialogue and image capture. Can anyone using a similar setup under Lion confirm that this will still work ?
Louis Bergeron  2011-08-22 17:06
I am on 10.6.8 and FAXstf PRO still works fine. It is not supported however and sometimes there are problems receiving. There is no signal that the fax was well received, so the machine at the other end faxes again.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2011-08-22 17:39
Can you check and see if FAXstf Pro is a PowerPC application, as I suspect it is? Just Get Info on it, and look in the Kind line.
Avid Newsreader  2011-08-26 01:30
I'm using Faxstf Pro 10.9 and the Get Info says it's a Universal application.

It's also a tad flaky on Snow Leopard, as I usually have to unplug my Zoom 3095 modem and perhaps restart to get it to locate the modem, but this usually takes care of it. Once it finds the modem, it tends to be reliable. I sure wish they had not dropped this software, I've been using it for years and I love the searchable fax phone book plus I have customized cover sheets for several purposes that I can switch back and forth between. I actually tried Pagesender and hated it, the interface seemed a lot more clunky than Faxstf.
swallows  2011-08-30 02:34
If you still have a working Mac with internal modem lying around with TIGER 10.4.11 driving your system, fax away cheaply under PRINT/PDF.

JL Sydney
Rob Lewis  2011-08-30 03:02
Something that some people might want to watch for is whether the fax modem supports Distinctive Ringing (which allows up to 4 phone numbers on the same physical line, identifying incoming calls by the number of quick ring pulses for each ring interval). You probably only want the modem to answer calls coming from one of the 4 possible ring patterns.

Some time ago I went on a search for an Apple-compatible USB modem that supported Distinctive Ringing, and came up empty. Anybody know of one?

If you want to try this, you have to edit the /usr/bin/fax file: Go to the line that reads
INIT="-iZ -i&FE0&D2S7=120 -i&C0"
add at the end to read:
INIT="-iZ -i&FE0&D2S7=120 -i&C0 -SDR=n"
where n is the Distinctive Ring pattern number (1 for a standard ring, 2 for 2 quick rings, and so on). At least this worked for earlier OSes. Don't know about Lion.
Randall Williams, NewSouth Books  2011-09-06 05:11
I don't pay the bills in our office so I'm not sure what it costs, but we've used for several years for incoming and outgoing faxes. The incoming is simple: a fax machine that dials our old land-line fax number reaches Send2Fax instead, which converts the fax to a PDF and emails it to us. For outgoing, we make the document into a PDF and attach it to an email addressed to "[fax phone no.]". We get a confirmation email when the email is sent and another when it is successfully received. This has worked for us on OS 9 through 10.6; I don't see why it won't keep working on 10.7.
Mike Sweeney   2011-10-16 02:14
I was able to get faxing working again in lion by purchasing a ten dollar USB modem off eBay. Lion picked it right up without any issues.