how to receive fax gmail

Countless people around the World use Gmail on an everyday basis.  ​Google's email service is, at the time of writing this article, the biggest free email provider in the World​. But... did you know that you can also use it to ​receive fax?

Thanks to the advances in online fax ​technology we can receive fax ​​to email without having to buy a machine or install a dedicated line in the office. ​

​In this guide you'll learn ​how to setup incoming faxes on Gmail so you can spend less time and money. Let's get started!

​How to Receive Fax ​to ​​Gmail

​​There is a way to receive fa​xes on Gmail ​by obtaining a virtual fax line and linking it to your Gmail ​address​, you just need the help of an online fax service. Incoming faxes will arrive as a​n email attachment, ​and you can receive mobile notifications instantly.

If you don't have a Gmail address, you can ​create one completely free in just a few seconds. ​

For the purpose of receiving fax to Gmail, we recommend you create a separate ​email address.  If you use your personal ​email, faxes will be mixed with the rest of common ​messages, including those coming from ​social sites and promotions.  ​

​An email fax service, on the other hand, will ​give you a Google fax number, which is a virtual number that redirects incoming fax to Gmail. Your virtual fax line will stay active all day long, receiving faxes automatically and converting them to PDF before sending them to your inbox.  It will stay active even if your computer is turned off, just like emails arrive even when you are not on your computer.

​So far, the only way to receive fax ​on Gmail is with the help of an online fax service, because through them is the only way you can get a virtual fax number.

You can receive fax to Gmail for free by signing up for a free test-drive account with services like RingCentral Fax, eFax or MyFax among others, which let you have a free fax number for a trial period.

​​Linking a Fax Number to ​Your Gmail Address

setting up your gmail fax number to receive fax

​To start receiving ​fax to Gmail, all you need to do is link a virtual fax number to your Gmail address.  The easiest and most direct way to do this is at the moment of creating an account with the online fax provider of your preference.

When you sign up with an online fax provider, you are asked to choose between a local or toll-free fax number.  Don't worry, you don't have to pay anything extra, the number is included in your monthly plan.

At the moment of signing up with an email fax service just enter your desired ​email and pick your number (you have the option between local and toll-free depending on your country/area). Once you’ve done this, both will be automatically linked, so if someone sends you a fax using that number, it will be converted and forwarded to your inbox as a PDF fax attachment.

NOTE: ​Some services let you link the same Google fax number to up to 5 different addresses. The process is the same and faxes will be delivered at the same speed.

Alternatively, you can head out to the web fax online account and change ​the ​email address used for receiving fax. Here’s a simple example on how this looks when faxing with RingCentral Fax. ​All services are similar in this aspect.


configuring your virtual fax number with gmail

Once you’ve done this, you are ready to receive fax to email. ​They will be automatically sent to your Gmail account as an attachment. You can access a copy of all your incoming faxes through your online fax account, in case you can't access ​your inbox.

​As you can see, you don't have to go into your Google account and mess with the settings.  Online fax services use web-based technology that is always up, no matter if you have your computer turned off. They will handle the configuration of your account, which shouldn't take more than just a few minutes after completing the sign-up process.

Instead of rushing to a create a paid account, sign up for a free trial account to test how this technology works. You've got nothing to lose, you can cancel these services at anytime to try another one. It's 100% safe.

​Moving Your Existing Fax Line

​If you already have a fax number but are looking for a way to receive fax​ to Gmail, you can do so by porting your fax number to a digital line.  The process is called "fax number porting", and most services offer it at no extra cost.

At the moment of creating your account ask your email fax provider for a transfer process and they'll take things from there.  ​The porting process may take a few days to complete, that's because your number is now working online, and it needs to propagate on the Internet to be 100% functional.  During those days, you​r preferred service will provide a free temporary fax number.

How Do I ​Get Alerted When I Receive a New Fax?

​With online fax, you won't hear a ring on your fax machine whenever a new fax comes your way.  Instead, you'll work with online notifications.  Setting up an incoming fax alert is pretty simple.

Faxes will arrive automatically​ to your Gmail inbox, but we wouldn't recommend you to check your account every minute to make sure you are not missing any fax. ​It's a much better idea to set up alerts on your web browser or on your phone.  

Let's take a look at how you can do this.

1. Enabling Email Notifications in Gmail

By enabling notifications in your Gmail settings, you can start receiving notifications on your web browser.  If you work online a lot or are always on your computer, this can prove to be a quick and easy faxing solution. 

Whenever a new email fax arrives to your email inbox, a small pop-up window will appear on the side of your web browser.

Follow these steps to start getting these alerts:

  1. Head to Gmail Settings by clicking the Gear icon button.
  2. You'll arrive at the General section, now look for "Desktop Notification".
  3. ​Click on the option "“Click here to enable desktop notifications for Gmail”"
  4. Now make sure you allow Gmail notifications on your browser once the button pops-up.
  5. ​Save settings.

What's great about this method is that you can choose to receive notifications for all incoming fax or only for those that you have labeled as essential.

2. Receiving Incoming Fax to Gmail Alerts on a Cell Phone

There are two ways you can receive fax​es from anywhere with your phone, ​using one or another depends on ​the features offered by each online fax provider.

Using a Mobile Fax App

This is the easiest way to know when a fax has come your way. ​A fax app will link to your virtual fax number and Gmail address, allowing you to receive faxes on your cell phone from anywhere.

​A good cell phone app will allow you to ​send and receive faxes with ease, and there are additional perks you can enjoy such as the ability to sign faxes electronically..

​This is a pretty cool feature, because instead of having to print a document, you just add your digital signature and ​start faxing back the document.

Unfortunately though, not all fax services have ​developed apps for smartphones.  The ones we recommended above do, but some others can send notifications onlye through text messages, as you'll see below.

Receiving SMS Alerts for Incoming Fax

​Some ​fax service companies ​don't have apps, so they instead send you instant notifications of faxes to your phone using a text message or SMS.  The great thing about receiving notifications this way is that it uses your phone signal.

To configure this option enter your online account through your browser​.  Then find the section on receiving faxes, usually you'll find there a field where you can enter your phone number for SMS notifications.

​What Are the Advantages of Receiving Faxes ​Online?

One of the coolest things about this new way of receiving faxes online is that provides a lot of interesting and useful features that can make faxing and sorting documents easily. Let’s take a look at some of them:

  • Labeling faxes​
  • Integration with Google Drive​
  • Integration with fax services​
  • Lightning-fast speed​
  • Access faxes anywhere​

​Receiving fax ​to ​Gmail is very easy and it doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes to set up your account​. Once the number is activated by your provider, it will be ready to receive faxes.  

​This method is 100% compatible with traditional fax machines, people ​who send you fax won't notice ​you are using Internet for the job.  You, on the other hand, will be able to read fax directly on your screen without having to waste paper. When receiving a fax that has been sent through a fax machine, it will be first converted into a PDF digital document and then forwarded to your email address.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Where Are The Faxes I Received Stored?

​Whenever you send and receive faxes, ​copies of them are stored on your online fax account and in Gmail.  Each of ​these ways of storing fax has its advantages.

From your web dashboard you can easily find faxes according to certain criteria. ​Some providers let you store fax indefinitely, while others store them for a maximum amount of time, usually a year.

​On the other hand, when a fax arrives as a PDF on your email, you can immediately store it on your Google Drive account.  Google offers more than enough space to keep thousands of faxes.

2. Does My Fax Number Only Work With Gmail?

You can link your fax number to any email account you have, even if it's a proprietary email client. Email addresses are linked to powerful fax servers.