If you want to send or receive faxes from your Mac, we’ve taken a look at all the best ways to fax from a Mac in 2023 including on the latest versions of macOS and M1/M2 chip Macs.
Due to recent changes made by Apple to macOS, there are now very few ways to send and receive faxes or PDFs from Macs or MacBooks but it is still possible.
Here we look at the best and easiest ways to send and receive faxes from a Mac in 2023 which work on all models of desktop Macs and MacBooks.
In our extensive research we found that the best way to send and receive faxes from a Mac was by using RingCentral Fax which allows you to send faxes easily from a Mac in just a few clicks.
Where Is The Fax Utility on a Mac?
It’s important to be aware that Apple has removed support for modems and faxing from all-in-one printers in macOS Sierra onwards.
This means you can no longer fax using an all-in-one printer or USB modem in macOS Ventura, Monterey, Big Sur, Catalina, Mojave, Sierra or High Sierra.
Since Apple has removed this support for modems and faxing from multifunction printers on a Mac, there is no such thing as a built-in fax utility in macOS anymore.
The last version of macOS to support a fax utility was El Capitan but from macOS Sierra onwards including up to Monterey, support for legacy fax modems in all-in-one printers or external USB modems has been dropped.
Apple doesn’t even provide instructions of how to setup an external modem with the latest version of macOS Ventura which suggests that Ventura has completely put the nail in the coffin for connecting modems to Macs.
As we’ll show you here though, you can however use fax software instead to send and receive faxes from any version of macOS including Ventura, Monterey, Big Sur and the latest M1/M2 Macs.
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With this in mind here are all the ways you can send and receive faxes from a Mac in 2022.
By far the easiest way to send a fax from a Mac nowadays is by using an online fax service.
In fact if you’re using the latest versions of macOS such as Monterey and Big Sur, using an online fax software is the only way to send and receive fax documents from a Mac in 2023.
This is because Apple has removed support for faxing from multi function printers and modems in the latest versions of macOS leaving online fax services as the only option.
Unlike using multifunction printers or modems, RingCentral Fax also does not require a phone line.
RingCentral Fax is also the only fax service to provide a fax app that works on both Intel Macs and the latest Apple Silicon M1/M2 Macs.
Most Cloud based fax tools like RingCentral Fax even allow you to send and receives faxes from your email which is about as convenient as it gets.
They’re also more likely to be up to date with latest security protocols regarding sending faxes with client data on.
For example medical institutions that use EMR software need to follow strict HIPAA regulations regarding the protection of customer data.
Some online fax services like RingCentral are also HIPAA compliant so they’re also suitable for medical centers and other organizations handling confidential data.
There are also some apps that allow you to send a few faxes for free although they are not suitable for professional or serious use as they don’t allow you to receive faxes, they insert ads or watermarks and are often unreliable.
You can also read our in-depth look at the best fax software for Mac to see other fax services that are available.
If you’re still using macOS El Capitan or earlier, you can use a multifunction printer to send faxes from your Mac as long as you have a phone landline to connect it to.
However, for Mac users that have already upgraded to Sierra, High Sierra, Mojave, Catalina, Big Sur or Monterey, using an all-in-one printer to send and receive faxes from a Mac only works on El Capitan or lower.
The latest versions of macOS such as Ventura, Monterey and Big Sur do not support faxing from all-in-one printers anymore.
The only way to restore multifunction fax support on a Mac is to use Boot Camp to install El Capitan or an older version of macOS (although note that this doesn’t work on M1 or M2 Macs).
Even if you do that, you’ll still need to check whether your printer supports faxing on Mac.
You can check the useful Apple Printer Fax compatibility page which shows which brands and manufacturers are compatible with Mac and which support faxing on Macs.
If you’re willing to install an older version of macOS on your Mac to use a multifunction printer for faxing, we recommend using one of these Mac compatible all-in-one printers.
Multifunction printers have a phone line jack at the back which you will need to plug into your phone line at home or in the office.
If you’ve done all this, here’s how to send and receive faxes from a Mac using a multi-function printer.
- Connect the printer to your computer and your Mac will automatically download and install the drivers. To check that the Printer-Fax has installed correctly, you should be able to see it by going to the Apple logo in the top left of your screen and selecting System Preferences and then Printers & Scanners. If you can’t see it, click on the “+” symbol at the bottom of the Printer list and add-it from the pop-up list of devices that appears.
- Select Print from the File Menu of the application you want to fax from e.g. Word, TextEdit etc
- In the drop down menu next to Printer, select Fax. You’ll see some Fax preferences which will vary in format depending on the modem you are using. Simply enter the recipient name and fax number of the fax machine you want to send the document to including any prefixes. The fax software may even be integrated with your Contacts already stored on your Mac in which case you can select the person you want to send it to, ensuring that the fax number is correct.
- You can also usually add a cover page. Click the checkbox Use Cover Page if you want to add a cover letter to your fax and fill in the details. You can usually preview your fax to see what it will look like to the receiver by clicking Preview at the bottom. You may also be able to configure exactly how it sends the fax if it has Preferences. For instance you may be able to choose between dialing with touch or pulse tones or pulse tones, toggle on or off the sound of the modem dialing and whether you want to hear a dial tone before dialing.We recommend leaving these all on as it’s easier to tell if your modem is sending a fax if you can hear what’s going on.
- Click Fax at the bottom and you’re done. You should hear the fax dial-up signal as it sends your document unless you’ve turned-off the dial sounds. At the top of every page, the fax will imprint the time, number of pages and your fax number for the recipient to reply. If you sent a cover page with it, you can also add a subject heading for the fax.
Receiving faxes on your Mac is also very simple once your printer fax scanner or USB modem is setup.
As long as your USB modem or fax printer scanner is connected to your phone line and your Mac is not in sleep mode, it will receive faxes.
To make sure your Mac is configured correctly to receive faxes on a multifunction printer:
- Go to the Apple logo in the top left corner of your desktop and select System Preferences and then Printers & Scanners. Select your fax device and you’ll see some details about your machine. Make sure that your fax number is correctly entered in the Fax Number field so that you can receive faxes.
- You can also get notifications of incoming faxes by checking the box “Show fax status in menu bar”. If you click on Receive Options, you can also configure whether you want your Mac to answer faxes before the answer machine cuts in, set the number of rings you want before answering faxes and choose whether you want faxes to be saved to a folder or printed automatically. Alternatively, you can answer faxes manually by choosing “Answer Now” from the fax status menu.
If you don’t have a mutlifunction printer but you do have a phone line, you can connect an external modem instead to your Mac and use the El Capitan fax utility.
However, as with faxing using a multifunction printer on a Mac, this only works on macOS El Capitan or earlier because Apple has removed the fax utility from macOS and so this will not work on the latest versions of macOS Sierra, High Sierra, Mojave, Catalina or Big Sur.
Apple doesn’t even provide instructions of how to connect a modem to the latest version of macOS Ventura which suggests that Ventura has completely put the nail in the coffin for connecting modems to Macs.
Your only option therefore to fax from a Mac with an external modem is to go through the laborious process of installing El Capitan on your Mac using Boot Camp to use a USB fax modem with your Mac.
The advantage of using a modem is that there’s no need for an internet connection as it will plug into your analog landline phone line to send faxes rather than use your internet connection.
Note that this is the only way to connect a modem to your Mac – you can’t fax from a Mac using an iPhone as a tethered modem.
To fax from macOS El Capitan or earlier using the fax utility you can find full instructions here how to fax from a Mac with a USB modem here.
Note that you’ll also need to bear the following in mind before you consider using a modem to fax from a Mac:
- Unless your Mac was built in 2005 or earlier (in which case it already has an internal modem), you’ll need an external USB modem. All external modems simply connect to a USB port and enable you to plug your analog telephone line into the other end. There is an external Apple modem available but it only works with OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and below and it also only works with iMac G5, Mac mini or Power Mac G5 making it quite a outdated for most users.
The best external modem for Mac is the USRobotics USR5637 56K modem which is the only one we’ve used which definitely works with El Capitan.
- To connect a USB modem to your Mac, go to Apple menu > System Preferences, and then click Printers & Scanners. You will see the modem appear under the list of devices. If you don’t see it, click the “+” symbol and select your USB modem from the pop-up dialog and click Add. Your Mac will then automatically install the drivers and software needed to use the modem.
- You then simply use the modem’s software or interface to send faxes. If you have problems, you should be able to download any drivers and software you need from the modem manufacturer website.
We hope we’ve helped you send and receive a fax from your Mac successfully.
The reality is that nowadays with the lack of support for modems in the latest versions of macOS, you’re much better using a faxing application on your Mac than messing around with multifunction fax printers or fax modems.
Online fax software services are ideal if you’re going to send faxes regularly and give you the convenience of sending faxes from your email account.
If you have any problems, suggestions or questions faxing from your Mac using this tutorial, let us know in the comments below or get in touch direct.