Sending faxes at night

All my boss can talk about is the “economic downturn” and how it’s affecting her small business. She’s in full penny-pincher mode and wants me to figure out how to send faxes after-hours when long-distance phone rates are down. How do I do this?

You can send faxes at night, on weekends and pretty much anytime you want, thanks to the fax scheduling capability that’s probably already a function of your existing fax machine. (That is, unless your boss also cheaped out on equipment and bought a low-end fax.)

Haul out the instruction manual for the fax machine, or go to the manufacturer’s web site for instructions on scheduling faxes. Fax scheduling is also referred to as “delayed transmission” or “timer transmission,” so check for that, too. With this function, the documents will be stored in the machine’s internal memory until it’s time to send them. Be sure to make sure your fax’s clock is set correctly so it sends at the time you really want it to!

For those using the fax machine in conjunction with a computer, scheduling faxes to send sometime in the future is an option in dialog boxes using Windows Fax Wizard (for pre-Vista users) and the Windows Fax and Scan utility (in Vista Business, Ultimate and Enterprise).

One point of etiquette to keep in mind if you’re sending night faxes is that it’s quite possible that not all of your recipients receive their faxes in a traditional office setting. If your fax goes through late at night to a home office with a loud incoming fax tone, you risk disturbing the recipient’s family and jeopardizing whatever business you were hoping to do via that fax.

You might want to inform your boss that she could potentially avoid toll charges altogether by using an Internet-based fax service. Some, but not all, online fax services let you schedule a fax delivery time, so be sure to check before signing up. There is also software with a fax-scheduling function, such as PageSender for Mac users with a fax modem. Online fax service prices and features are compared at

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