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Sending and Receiving Faxes (part 1) - Installing, Configuring the Fax Service

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1/27/2012 3:28:35 PM
Remember when, a couple of decades or so ago, the fax machine (or the facsimile machine, as it was called back then) was the hottest thing around, the new kid on the telecommunications block? How amazing it seemed that we could send a letter or memo or even a picture through the phone lines and have it emerge seconds later across town or even across the country. Sure, the fax that came slithering out the other end was a little fuzzier than the original, and certainly a lot slimier, but it sure beat using the post office.

Nowadays, though, faxing is just another humdrum part of the workaday world, and any business worth its salt has a fax machine on standby. Increasingly, however, dedicated fax machines are giving way to fax modems—modems that have the capability of sending and receiving faxes in addition to their regular communications duties. Not only does this make faxing affordable for small businesses and individuals, but it also adds a new level of convenience to the whole fax experience:

  • You can send faxes from your computer without having to print the document.

  • Because faxes sent via computer aren’t scanned (as they are with a fax machine), the document that the recipient gets is sharper and easier to read.

  • You can use your printer to get a hard copy of a fax on regular paper, thus avoiding fax paper (which, besides being inherently slimy, has an annoying tendency to curl).

  • You can send binary files along with your faxes, provided that both the sending and the receiving fax modems support this feature.

Installing the Fax Service

If you want to get into the fax fast lane, look no further than the Fax service. If you don’t have this service on your system, follow these steps to install it:

1.
Open Control Panel’s Add or Remove Programs icon.

2.
In the Add or Remove Programs window, click Add/Remove Windows Components. The Windows Components Wizard appears.

3.
Activate the Fax Services check box and then click Next. Windows XP Setup installs the Fax service.

4.
Click Finish.

The rest of this chapter shows you how to configure the Fax service and how to use it to send and receive faxes.

Starting the Fax Console

You begin your faxing duties at the Fax Console, which you open by selecting Start, All Programs, Accessories, Communications, Fax, Fax Console. (Alternatively, select Start Printers and Faxes. In the Printers and Faxes window, double-click the Fax icon.) The first time you do this, the Fax Configuration Wizard appears. The next section takes you through this wizard’s steps.

Configuring the Fax Service

Follow these steps to configure the Fax service:

1.
In the initial Fax Configuration Wizard dialog box, click Next. The wizard displays the Sender Information dialog box.

2.
Use this dialog box to enter your name, fax number, address, and so on. Remember that this information will be added automatically to your fax cover pages, so enter only data that you want your fax recipients to see. When you’re done, click Next. You now see the Select Device for Sending or Receiving Faxes dialog box.

Note

Instead of the Select Device for Sending or Receiving Faxes dialog box, you might see the final wizard dialog box instead. When you click Finish, a Windows Security Alert dialog box appears letting you know that Windows XP is blocking the Fax Console program. If this happens, click Unblock. In the Fax Console window, select Tools, Configure Fax to restart the Fax Configuration Wizard.

3.
This dialog box has the following controls (click Next when you’ve made your choices):

Please Select the Fax DeviceThis is a list of the fax/modems installed on your computer. If you have more than one, use the list to choose the one you want to perform the faxing chores.
Enable SendActivate this check box if you want to be able to send faxes from your computer.
Enable ReceiveActivate this check box if you want to be able to receive faxes on your computer. When this check box is activated, the following two controls come into play:
 Manual AnswerActivate this option to answer incoming calls manually.
 Automatically Answer After x RingsActivate this option to have the Fax service answer incoming calls auto-matically.

4.
The wizard now prompts you for your Transmitting Subscriber Identification, or TSID. Type the text (such as your name or your company name) and click Next.

Note

Windows XP assigns a name to your fax machine. This is known in the trade as the TSIDTransmitting Subscriber Identification (or sometimes Transmitting Station Identifier). When the other person receives your fax, your TSID is displayed at the top of each page. If the other person is receiving on a computer, the TSID appears in the TSID line (or some similar field, depending on the program the recipient is using). Unfortunately, the default TSID in Windows XP is Fax, which redefines the word uninspiring. To fix this, edit the TSID as described in step 4. For example, it’s common to change it to a name—such as your company name, your department name, or your own name—followed by your fax number.

5.
If you elected to receive faxes, the wizard asks you for your Called Subscriber Identification, or CSID. This identifies your computer to the fax sender. This isn’t as important as the TSID, so enter whatever you like and click Next.

6.
If you’ll be receiving faxes, the wizard now wonders what you want to do with incoming faxes (click Next when you’re done):

Print It OnActivate this check box to have Windows XP automatically print any received fax. Use the list that becomes activated to choose the printer you want to use.
Store a Copy in a FolderActivate this check box to store a second copy of each fax in the folder that you specify. The original copy of the fax is saved in the Fax Console, which you learn about in the next section.

7.
Click Finish.

Examining the Fax Console

When the wizard exits, you end up with the Fax Console window onscreen, as shown in Figure 1. The Fax Console is where you’ll do your fax work in Windows XP.

Figure 1. The Fax Console is your home base for Windows XP faxing.

The Fax Console includes four folders that store fax-related things:

IncomingThis folder displays information about the fax that is currently being received. For example: During fax reception, the Status column displays In progress and the Extended Status column displays Answered and then Receiving.
InboxThis folder stores the incoming faxes that were received successfully. Note that the TSID column shows the name or phone number of the sender.
OutboxThis folder stores data about the fax that is currently being sent. For example: During the send, the Status column displays In progress and the Extended Status column displays Transmitting.
Sent ItemsThis folder stores a copy of the faxes that you have sent successfully.

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