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SRFax and Other Internet Faxing Alternatives to MaxEmail

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.

How much a subscription to SRFax costs depends on your expected fax volume, and whether you’re a home or a business.

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:

  1. In your standard email app, create a new message just like you normally would.

  2. In the To field, enter the destination fax telephone number followed by @srfax.com.

  3. 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.

If you have any questions about SRFax that their Internet Fax FAQ doesn’t answer, ping them via their contact page.

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.]

 

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Comments about SRFax and Other Internet Faxing Alternatives to MaxEmail
(Comments are closed.)

dave nuss  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2016-10-07 22:29
Thanks for this Mr. Singer, right on time for us.
We're also victims of J2Global and eFax Plus and happy to know more options. Recently we had a need for faxing with family in Europe and so signed up for the Plus 30-day trial and were happy to see a local number where our family lives, which was great. System also worked fine for the documents sent. Now we just have to try to cancel the free account, which we don't expect to be easy.
We poked around a bit about this use case, receiving faxes from outside the US, and found:
SRFax lists a 60-day free trial and only numbers in North America;
Faxbetter's toll free inbound number is a US toll-free number;
Faxburner does not make it clear on their site where their fax numbers are based, but it appears likely it is also US-only.
so eFax still looks like the best for that use case. Otherwise I'll check out the others if I need domestic US/Canada fax capability.
All this makes me wish service providers like this would think briefly outside their continent and specify up front where the service is available. People anywhere could find their pages in search results. It could be as simple as adding the reference to their text... 'US-based toll-free number' etc...
Thanks again for writing this!
Steve Nicholson  2016-10-09 12:06
I didn't realize faxing was around in the 19th century. My high school history books completely glossed over the fact that Abe Lincoln and Jefferson Davis were sending faxes to each other. 😉
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2016-10-10 11:15
Just a hair too late for those two - the first commercial fax service came in 1865 in France.

https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Fax#/Wire_transmission
Dennis B. Swaney  2016-10-10 17:00
Don't forget there was a predecessor:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x357mzf
Cecil Clift  2016-10-09 15:32
Happy SRFax User.

Replaced cable telephone line used only for faxing. $350 a year vs $66.
Smooth port, about 10 days.
While waiting for port, calls the fax number were forwarded (via cable phone's *72 code) to a temp SRFax number we were given. No missed faxes.
We set it up so that our iPhones ding with a unique tone (telegraph)—and we also receive a notification message on our phones—to tell us SRFax emailed us that a fax has been received (and when a fax has been sent successfully or has failed). We set up an email address just for faxes.
The web portal lets us jot down notes about from whom the fax was sent, the subject, etc. The portal doesn’t use Flash, unlike a service we also tried (Nextivia). Reading/sending faxes via email is also nice, esp. when out of office.
We mostly send by scanning into a Brother MFC, which automatically puts the scanned PDF file directly into an email that opens for emailing to 1+FaxNumber@srfax.com
Very pleased!
Grace Stamper  2016-10-10 00:41
I have been using the FREE Faxing website http://www.bestfreefax.com/BFFSendFreeFax.php with my Safari for 5 years, including last month. You may send two, fourteen-page, faxes totally free — without ads being inserted into your fax document! Yes, that's nearly thirty pages of free faxing to any destination in the Continental 48 United States, Canada or Hawaii. BestFreeFax.com is easy to use and very reliable. Users always receive an email confirmation with every fax.
Faxaway.com
pay only for what you use. Barebones but reliable have been using for years. Can only fax plain text in body of email or any document as attached PDF.

Edit: $1 / month maintenance fee. Still cheapest option for occasional users.
If you happen to own a license for any recent version of Windows or your Fax usage makes it worth spending around $100 for an unsupported license, you problems are over. Just download Virtual Box and install it on your Mac and then install Windows into it. Windows, even Windows 10, still supports faxing. After installing Windows, just link your fax modem to the emulator, then install the fax modem driver for Windows from the manufacture's website. Then you are all set to use your fax modem from your Mac. Create the document on you Mac as a PDF, then move it to the Windows side and fax it. While I have not tested it I assume you can receive as well, just have sender notify you first so you can launch Windows to receive it. This might also work for Linux which doesn't need a Windows license. I hope that Apple is embarrassed enough by this to add back the capability or someone writes a Mac PDF popup for it as Apple originally intended it to be in MOS 10.12
George Cowie  2016-10-11 00:28
I do actually have an all-in-one that will fax, but for faxing directly from my Mac, I use an early OS-X version on an early laptop that accepts Apple's fax dongle. I can share my documents in PDF format on my home network if they are not compatible with the software on my older fax-friendly Mac. I, too, felt burned by eFax, and developed my own solution. I applaud your article for the multiple sources offered. Thank you for that, and for your continuing Apple knowledge and support.
Deborah Loth  2016-10-11 03:58
Thanks for this. One question: how long will your discount be valid? My MaxEmail (now eFax) account renews in February. Will your discount still be valid then?
Randy B. Singer  2016-10-11 07:23
I haven't been able to get a firm commitment from SRFax. But I don't think that they are in any hurry to discontinue the offer.
The '$20 credit' link you provided simply goes to their 'pricing' page, without any reference to you or the credit.

Is a coupon code necessary?

Thanks for all your hard work.
Randy B. Singer  2016-11-12 07:09
I contacted the SRFax people and they say that the discount is still available and that the site will reflect that again in a day or so.
Randy B. Singer  2016-11-12 16:54
The promo message has been restored!
Doug Lerner  2016-10-11 07:42
I found this interesting. I use MyFax which costs $10/month for 100 pages out and 200 pages in. But unless I'm doing a HIPPA thing, or something very occasionally with bank I rarely use it. Months could go by without a fax coming in or going out. I will check them out.

One question though. You mentioned how to send faxes. It sounds a lot easier than the MyFax app. What about faxes coming in though? Do they just arrive by email as attachments?
Randy B. Singer  2016-10-11 08:15
Yes, it's really easy to send faxes using SRFax. It's even easier to receive them. They just show up as file attachments in PDF format. No special proprietary app is required to read them.
Doug Lerner  2016-10-11 21:17
Thanks. I'll give them a try.

By the way, I didn't get a notification of your response. I don't see a way of setting notifications either. I guess we just have to check back here to see if there were replies?
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2016-10-12 09:45
There's a checkbox at the top of the comment section you can set to receive further comments via email.
J Sidney  2016-10-11 15:26
Get a phone number at www.anveo.com. $2/month. You receive faxes using your phone number by email. Send faxes by uploading your files (pdfs,jpg,txt, doc,xls,etc.) at anveo.com. Works very well.
Doug Lerner  2016-10-12 08:23
Hmmm.... I signed up for a new account, which seems to also include a 60 day trial, and sent a test fax.

The test fax was a one page PDF file (a W-9) with all the relevant fields filled out.

It arrived as a two page PDF file with missing fields.

I have no patience to debug stuff like this. If it's unreliable it's unreliable.

I'll stick with my $10/month MyFax number instead. $64 more per year, but I've never had a problem like this with MyFax.
Doug Lerner  2016-10-12 09:02
I tried the reverse - sending from MyFax to SRFax and it was sent just fine. A 1 page PDF with no missing fields.

SRFax added an extraneous GIF to the received message though.
Laryenth Lancaster  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2016-10-13 23:28
For the last few years I've found that the US Robotic USB fax modem and PageSender app work very well together and provide great, simple fax capacity to my home iMac at virtually no cost. Troubling, however, is the fact that the PageSender app is no longer supported. Do you know of any others?
Steven Oz  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2016-10-21 18:42
I hate to throw a good computer... so I have 9 in my house. I use them all too! Each of them does something well... that the others don't do, either for hardware or software reasons.
For faxing, I use my 2003 Mac Dual G5 tower. It has a telephone line port in the back and I merely need to point the built-in fax app to a PDF I've made from a scanned document(s)... and off it goes! I use it with some regularity.
What's the built in fax app? What system are you using?
Fred S  2016-11-26 05:38
I flagged another outfit back when MaxEMail jumped the shark and emailed me about their rediculous price increases. Yes, they have added features, but many of us don't need them. Any experience with these folks? http://www.onesuite.com/internet-fax
Randy B. Singer  2016-11-26 07:12
I've never heard of them. Looking at their Web site, they are reasonably priced, but you can't fax via e-mail with them if you have a Mac, you have to use their Web interface. For any kind of serious faxing, I'd prefer a company that is full-featured for Mac users, not just Windows users.