Ditch Your Fax Machine Forever With These Helpful Tools

Ditch Your Fax Machine Forever With These Helpful Tools

Laura E. Hall
Mar 8, 2011

Until recently, signing and faxing a document required a complicated series of steps involving scanning, printing, editing -- and actually finding a fax machine. But with the introduction of new services intended to automate all those cumbersome steps, the days of needing a fax machine of your own seem to be receding into the distance.

Often, the steps for faxing off a document look like this:

  1. Get document. If it's via email, you're in luck! If not:
  2. Scan document.
  3. Open image editing program.
  4. Meticulously fill in information.
  5. Add signature; this can go two ways: a. Print out document and sign, or b. Sign a piece of paper and scan or photograph it, sending it to yourself to add.
  6. Send off document, either by emailing it (for the lucky ones) or by printing and faxing it.
  7. Shred all that paper you just used, as it contains your private info.

Let's not even go into what most people have to do to actually get near a fax machine these days, what with all the transitioning of homes to mobiles-only.

Luckily for all of us, there's a new online service that eliminates the need for all that hoopla: HelloFax.

HelloFax lets you edit documents right on the site, and it handles a myriad of file types. You add in your signature by uploading, drawing or emailing in an image, and HelloFax saves it for future use so you only have to do it once. Just hit "Add signature" and it's inserted for your dragging-and-dropping convenience. Then enter a fax number or email address, hit "Send" and the deed is done.

Right now, you can send 20 faxes for free, and more if you email their customer service and ask nicely.

So now that the faxing itself is taken care of, we've also dug up a couple of tools that, while not all-in-one fax replacements, help make the job a little easier:

Signature Capture

Need some help capturing that signature? A new feature in Mac OS X 10.7 is going to make that particular task a lot easier, as 9to5mac.com reports.

With "Signature Capture", you can write backwards on paper and the built-in Mac camera will read it and place it in Preview. Simple as that! It may not be something you'd use every day, but for the times you do need it, it seems like it will be fantastically easy.

EasySign Signature App

This app is iOS-only so far (don't worry, Android users, we'll let you know as soon as its Android counterpart is released) and it fills another void: signing documents while the on-the-go.

With EasySign, you trace your signature using the touch screen, and the app stamps it onto the document before sending the PDF back to the sender. The app gives you three free sends, then charges $4.99 for an additional 20 sends.

So unplug that phone cord and put the fax machine in a box. Or better yet, remember that scene in Office Space, where they've had enough of their office fax's mysterious error messages, and administer some baseball bat justice to it? Just sayin'.

(Dusty fax machine: Flickr member Abhisek Sarda licensed for use under Creative Commons. Signature Capture screenshot via 9to5mac.)

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