Can I Use a PDA to Send Faxes?

Can I use a PDA to send and receive faxes from my regular local fax number?

There are many fee-based and free services by which you can send and receive faxes via personal digital assistant (PDA). However, using your existing local fax number to do so is a little trickier.

The short answer is, you can set up a fax service so that faxes sent to your existing fax number end up on your PDA. But if you need to send a fax from your PDA and have the recipient see it as coming from your existing fax number, you may be out of luck.

Perhaps you want to keep using your local fax number so you don’t have to inconvenience clients and others by informing them all of a new number. It’s true that you must accept a new number if you sign up with an Internet-based fax service that acts as an intermediary, turning faxes into PDF or TIFF files that show up as an attachment to your e-mail on your PC or PDA. However, there is a fix. You’ll need to subscribe to call-forwarding through your local telephone service provider and then set it up so calls (faxes) sent to your existing fax number forward, unbeknownst to the sender, to your new, Internet-based number. Be sure to check before choosing an online fax service provider to make sure the call-forwarding or a “porting” feature is compatible with their system. Unfortunately, the fix doesn’t work both ways. You’ll still need to use the Internet-based service to send faxes from your PDA, and it will display them as coming from the new number. However, if it’s still important to you, you could always clarify your local number in a cover sheet or elsewhere in the fax.

To be able to send, receive and view faxes, your PDA must have sufficient memory and resolution as well as offer a data connection in the form of an internal or cable-connected modem, via HotSyncing to an Internet-connected PC or by accessing a cellular network equipped for fax transmission. Most advanced handheld devices, including the Palm Treo and the Smartphone/Blackberry, should work fine.

There is some after-market software that enables PDA users to send, receive and view faxes securely and fee-free without going through a gateway e-mail system. This is a clever tool, but still does not solve the problem of needing to retain your existing fax number. We’ve seen suggested, but haven’t personally tried, installing HylaFax, connecting it to your fax line, and manually setting up faxes to forward to and from your e-mail just as they would with an Internet-based service—only now you should be able to choose the number displayed.

Do you have a question about faxing? Send me your fax question.