January 1999--Sending or receiving
a fax is now an easy task, thanks to computers. This month, we'll
examine a number of programs that make faxing easier and faster.
It used to be that you had to print a document
then spend time feeding the document into a fax machine. That has
all changed. Virtually any computer you purchase today will have a
modem and that modem will have fax capabilities. You will need fax
software, but it's not difficult to obtain or use. Often, it's as
simple as printing to your fax modem instead of to a printer. We're
slowly but surely moving to a true paperless office.
Windows 95 included an application called MS Fax.
For some, that was all that was needed. MS Fax could be cumbersome
to use and if Outlook was also installed the process was even more
Windows 98 also includes MS Fax but you have to
hunt for it on the Windows 98 distribution CD. U.S. users will find
the file in \Tools\Oldwin95\Message\US\Awfax.exe. International
users will find the file in \Tools\Oldwin95\Message\Intl\Awfax.exe.
With Notepad open, the file titled Wms-fax.txt is in the same folder
for information on how to install it, as well as the MS Messaging
If you are looking for something that may be
easier to use or have more functions, consider the following
alternatives. This list is not inclusive, as there are a wide
variety of options available on the market today. I often resort to
using an older Windows 3.1 FAX program because it's simple to use
and I need to get something out in a hurry.
Before we get to the list, I want to discuss
Telephony Application Programming Interface (TAPI), which was
introduced in Windows 95 and also is included in Windows 98 and
Windows NT 4.0. TAPI is the interface between a fax program and the
fax modem. One of the primary reasons TAPI was developed was so that
application programs no longer needed to maintain support for the
many brands of modems available on the market. TAPI handles all the
details. When the operating system recognizes the modem, any TAPI
compliant program will automatically support the modem.
TAPI allows more than one application to share the
modem port without having to manually open and close programs. In
the Windows 3.1, if a fax program was configured to always wait for
incoming faxes and a communications program wanted to use the port
you had to manually close the fax program and then open it up again
when the communications program was finished. With TAPI, when a user
needs to initiate a dial-up networking connection you don't need to
worry whether or not a fax program is already running. This works as
long as the fax program is written for 32-bit operating system
(Windows 95/98/NT). You'll still need to manually manage Windows 3.1
Some of the programs available on the market are:
In addition to sending and receiving single faxes,
WinFax can be used for faxing the same items to a group of
individuals in a single operation (often referred to as broadcast
faxing). WinFax Pro supports using one or two modems at once. One
could be configured for sending and one could be configured for
receiving. Of course, two phone lines are required for this
This package doesn't have the power WinFax does,
but it's also easier to configure and use. Hot Fax supports a single
This package includes a variety of options, such
as supporting as many modems as your computer can handle and faxing
in color if the recipient is using a computer. Stand-alone fax
machines will process the fax in black-and-white.
This package combines a number of programs:
Faxing, web browsing, email, remote access, and more. This may be
overkill for you, but if you're looking for one package that does it
all, ProComm Plus is definitely worth checking out.
Some folks have asked me what fax program(s) I
use. For the quick stuff where I need to fax a note or something I
have scanned in, I use the 16-bit version of ProComm Plus. Yes, it's
an older program, but it does what I need and I'm used to it. I
should probably switch to Version 4.7 and remove one more
application from my system. For heavy duty faxing, I use WinFax Pro
because it can handle that without a problem.
Until next month, happy faxing. Often, it's as
much of an art as a science, but it's much easier than it used to