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Installing and Managing Media Devices (part 3) - Using Windows Fax and Scan

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3/28/2011 9:36:39 PM

Using Windows Fax and Scan

Before the rise in popularity of the Internet and the availability of e-mail, a common method of transferring documents was by fax machine. These machines used an analog phone line to transfer data. Although the transmission speed and quality of faxed documents are not ideal, they do offer advantages over alternatives (such as physically printing and mailing a document).

The functionality of a fax machine is similar to the combined functionality of both a printer and a scanner. You use the scanner component to convert a paper document to a digital format for storage or transmission. You use the printer component to do the opposite: based on a digital source, you output the file to paper. Additionally, an analog modem device is necessary to connect to a phone line. Many different types of devices that perform these functions are available today. A stand-alone fax machine is able to perform scanning, printing, and transmission functions without the need for a computer. These are still found commonly in business environments.

Working with Windows Fax and Scan

Many Windows Vista users occasionally need to send and receive faxes. They might not want to invest in a dedicated device for this purpose because of the cost and space requirements. Windows Vista includes faxing capability. The Windows Fax and Scan program allows users to perform the most common operations through an analog modem that is connected to a phone line. Additionally, if a user has installed a scanner device, he or she can use it to scan paper documents and then use a printer to create a hard copy of a received fax.

You can launch Windows Fax and Scan from the Start menu or in Control Panel by clicking Hardware And Sound and then clicking the Scan A Document Or Picture link in the Scanners And Cameras section. Figure 9 shows the default user interface of the program.

Figure 9. Using Windows Fax and Scan

The primary window layout of Windows Fax and Scan is similar to that of the Windows Mail application. The left side of the interface includes several folders:

  • Incoming The location of new fax items when they are received

  • Inbox The location of Windows Fax and Scan items that have been imported

  • Drafts A folder for temporarily storing documents that have not yet been sent

  • Outbox The location of documents that are pending delivery (such as an outbound fax that is currently being transmitted)

  • Sent Items The location in which a copy of all sent items is stored

The bottom of the left panel also enables you to select whether you want to work with Fax documents or Scan documents. The latter option enables importing documents into the computer, as described earlier in this lesson.

Setting Up a Fax Account

Before you can send a fax by using Windows Fax and Scan, you must configure a fax modem. The process is known as setting up a fax account because it contains all of the settings that enable a user to send and receive faxes. The first step is to verify that the computer has an analog modem with fax capabilities installed and configured. You can do this by using Device Manager, as described earlier in this lesson. In addition, the fax modem should be connected to an analog phone line.

More Info: Digital phone lines

Some small-business environments might use digital phone systems rather than standard analog lines. Although the plug connector might look identical to that of an analog phone line, it is possible to damage a modem by incorrectly plugging it into a digital wall socket. Be sure to verify the type of connection before you attempt to connect a modem.


To begin the process of setting up a fax modem, click New Fax. If a device has not yet been configured, you have the option of doing it at this point (see Figure 10).

Figure 10. Setting up a fax modem

The first option is to connect to a fax modem that is installed locally on the computer. The second option involves connecting to a fax server that is located on the network. This process is similar to connecting to a network printer (a topic covered later in this lesson). When you choose to use a local modem, you’ll be able to provide a logical name for it. This option is useful if there are multiple fax-capable devices installed on the computer.

The next step enables you to configure settings for the receipt of faxes when using a local modem (see Figure 11). The options are as follows:

  • Answer Automatically (Recommended) This option automatically answers incoming phone calls after five rings and starts the fax receipt process. If the phone is answered before five rings, Windows Fax and Scan does not attempt to receive the fax.

  • Notify Me This option enables the receipt of faxes, but the user must manually select the option to start receiving. If the phone line is used for both voice and fax communications, this option can be helpful. The typical process is for the user first to answer the phone. If a fax beep is heard, he or she can then start the receive process. Note that if a user is not present, faxes are not received automatically.

  • I’ll Choose Later; I Want To Create A Fax Now This option effectively disables the receipt of faxes until the settings are changed at a later time.

Figure 11. Configuring receive options for a fax modem

You can add or remove fax accounts by clicking Fax Accounts from the Tools menu (see Figure 12). You’ll learn how you can configure other settings later in this section.

Figure 12. Managing fax account settings


Creating a New Fax

The screen for creating a new fax appears similar to that of an e-mail message (see Figure 13). You use the To field to specify the recipient of the fax. You can provide this either by using an item from the Windows Contacts list (assuming that the contact has a fax number) or by typing the number manually.

Figure 13. Creating a new fax

When sending a fax, the exact dialing rules can vary. Sometimes, you must enter a number to access a line that can dial out. In other cases, you might need a country code or area code for long-distance calls but not for local ones. You can enter the exact number to use, including prefixes and options, manually. Alternatively, you can choose to create a new dialing rule (see Figure 14). The specific options might also vary based on the regional version of Windows Vista being used.

Figure 14. Creating new dialing rules settings


The text entered in the body of the fax is included on the cover page. You often want to use the Insert menu to attach a file or document to send. The options include the following:

  • File Attachment

  • Picture

  • Text From File

  • Pages From Scanner

You can also change the options for when a fax is sent from the Tools menu by clicking Options. Figure 15 shows the available settings. To send the fax, click Send. Windows Fax and Scan automatically attempts to dial the number and transmit the fax. During this time, the item appears in the Outbox folder. After it has been sent successfully, it is moved to the Sent Items folder.

Figure 15. Configuring options for a new fax


Configuring Fax Settings

Windows Fax and Scan provides several different options that you can use to configure how and when faxes are sent. To access the options, from the Tools menu, click Fax Settings. Figure 16 shows an example of the options. The available tabs are as follows:

  • General This tab includes settings for whether faxes can be sent through a device and whether faxes should be received automatically. The More Options button enables you to specify station identifiers (which are included in the fax header data) and to choose whether faxes should be printed or saved automatically.

  • Tracking This tab includes various settings for viewing progress and notifications related to sending and receiving faxes.

  • Advanced This tab shows configuration options for the file system location in which faxes are stored. There are also settings for redial options and for defining times during which the phone line has discount rates.

  • Security This tab enables administrators of the computer to configure which actions are available to which users. The security permissions include Fax, Manage Fax Configuration, Manage Fax Documents, and Special permissions (see Figure 17).

Figure 16. Configuring fax settings


Figure 17. Configuring security settings for Windows Fax and Scan

Other -----------------
- Removing Malware from Windows Vista (part 3) - Troubleshooting Internet Explorer
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- Diagnosing Issues in Windows Vista (part 5) - Repairing Windows Vista
- Diagnosing Issues in Windows Vista (part 4) - Troubleshooting Startup Problems
- Diagnosing Issues in Windows Vista (part 3) - Performing Windows Memory Diagnostics
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