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How to Fax in Lion

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
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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