Windows Fax and Scan

Q: What is Windows Fax and Scan? In what versions of Windows is it available? How is it used?

Windows Fax and Scan is an operating system component that lets you scan documents from a scanner; manage scanned images in shared and unshared folders; convert images and documents to fax format; and send and receive faxes. It is a very handy utility.

But Windows Fax and Scan is available only in the Business, Ultimate, and Enterprise editions of Vista. Buyers of Home editions must do without or get third-party software.

If you have the Business or Ultimate edition of Vista, you will find Windows Fax and Scan on the “All Programs” menu when you hover your cursor over the “Start” button at the lower-left corner of your desktop. It must be installed as an optional component in Vista Enterprise.

Several preset categories and folders are available for making and managing scanned image files, and for managing fax documents. You can also create customized folders. Multiple users can use Windows Fax and Scan, which will display to a user only documents and images that belong to him or her, plus any that are stored in folders shared by all users of the computer.

To send a fax, just open Windows Fax and Scan and click on “new fax.” A form pops up with all the fields you need to fill in. Fax numbers can be retrieved from Microsoft Outlook contact databases, or entered manually. You can add notes to a cover sheet as if you were writing an email. Then simply attach the document(s) to be faxed to the message and click “Send.”

The scanning function of Windows Fax and Scan works just as easily and familiarly. You can adjust the settings of the scanner – color or black-and-white, resolution, file type of the scanned image file, etc. Image files can be saved into folders automatically created by Windows Fax and Scan or to folders of your choosing. File names can be chosen by the program or you can specify a file name prefix, i. e., “Term Paper,” and the program will number sequential scanned pages (Term_Paper0001.jpg, etc.)

Earlier versions of Windows supported scanners, but only scanners attached directly to your computer. Windows Fax and Scan supports scanners across a network, a boon for office environments or home networks (if you spring for the higher-priced editions of Vista).

Routing lists can be set up to share all output from a given scan with email recipients; place copies of a scanned image in certain users’ shared folders; or place copies in a publicly shared folder.

Windows Fax and Scan is a powerful utility. It’s a pity that at least the scanning function is not included in Home editions.

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