Tech Tips: Send faxes online & renaming printers in Windows
April 29, 2018
As much as I find it difficult to believe, I was recently forced to send a fax in order to complete a business transaction. I don't have a fax machine. I haven't had a fax machine since, well, I can't remember when. I ended up taking the pages to be faxed to an office supply store, and having them fax it for me for an outrageous price per page. Is there some way I could have done this transaction online?
Talk about a time machine back to 1995. Faxes represent a technology that seemed so modern when they first became available, and so terribly quaint now.
Amazingly, faxed documents are still in use in many industries in which security is an issue (banks, medicine, real estate) because you're sending the document via a private channel, and it never hits the Internet at all.
(Of course, we always worry who's seeing the fax at the receiving end, right? Is the fax machine sitting out in public in the office? Who picks up the document you fax that includes your Social Security Number, anyway?)
These days, we do our best to avoid doing business with vendors that requires us to fax things to them. Phooey on fax! We don't have fax machines, or fax telephone lines, or fax anything.
Yes, you can take a document to the nearest office supply or shipping store, and they'll be happy to fax the document for you, but you have to actually go somewhere and pay them to do it for you.
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Back in the heyday of the World Wide Web, when anyone tried any venture to make money, there were a lot of online fax services. You sent them a document, and they faxed it for you, for free.
You could pay for extra services, but there were many free options. Those days have passed, and at this point, we know of only one reputable free fax service: FaxZero.com.
FaxZero.com allows you to send a limited number of pages, a limited number of times per day (and this should be plenty for most casual faxers).
The free option limits you to three pages plus a cover sheet, FaxZero branding on the cover sheet, and no more than five faxes per day. You can pay $1.99 per fax to get up to 25 pages, no branding, and priority sending.
It's up to you, but either way, you can send a fax without going out, and without paying the exorbitant fees charged by local vendors for the service, if you can even find someone to do it.
To use FaxZero, you will need an electronic copy of the document. That is, you'll need a Microsoft Word document or a PDF file.
If you have a piece of paper in hand that you need to fax, you'll need to scan it first. Remember that smart phones all have the capability of taking a photo of a document and converting it to a PDF file, so even if you don't have a scanner, you can make it happen.
If you have a casual, infrequent need to fax, check out FaxZero.com. Its price is right, and it will save you the time, hassle, and cost of using a real, 1995-era fax machine.
Renaming printers in Windows
In my office, we have several printers from the same manufacturer. It's really hard to remember which one is which when sending a document to one of the printers. Is there some way to distinguish between these printers?
Whenever you attach a printer to your computer, whether it's a direct connection or a network connection, Windows lists the printer name in its list of devices.
At the time you first attach the printer, Windows assigns the printer a name; if you have multiple printers from the same manufacturer in your office, they're likely to have similar and perhaps confusing names. You can change the name of the printer in every version of Windows.
You may find it useful to assign a more user-friendly name for each printer, perhaps including the usage and location ("Form Printer in Bill's Office," for example).
In Windows 10, start by bringing up the Settings app (press Windows Key + I to do this). Select Devices, and then Printers & scanners.
Click the printer you'd like to rename, and select Manage. Select Printer Properties.
On the new dialog, find the General tab, and change the name of the printer. Save your changes, and you're done.
For Windows 7 or 8, open the Control Panel. Select the Devices and Printers item, and then find the printer you want to rename. Right-click the printer and choose Printer Properties.
In the dialog box, change the printer name. Save your changes, and the printer should appear with its new name.
You can follow these steps with any device on your Windows computer — if you're confused by the built-in name, select your own.
Doug Behl and Ken Getz spent years answering technical questions in private, and are minimizing the questions by pre-emptively publishing the answers. Hear Doug and Ken's tech tips on KNCO radio weekdays at around 8:21 a.m. and 5:38 p.m.; find full write-ups including links to the products they mention at http://blog.techtipguys.com. Submit your own technical questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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