Travel tip: use Google Drive to fax online, without a fax machine

By John Walton, July 31 2012
Travel tip: use Google Drive to fax online, without a fax machine

"Yes, we'll need that by fax. No, you can't scan and email it." Just about every business traveller has hit the fax machine roadblock at some point.

Whether it's an obscure country's visa requirements to receive triplicate faxes (don't laugh, it's happened to us) or some well-meaning but misguided corporate type who insists that scan-and-email isn't possible, faxing is sometimes required.

Doing business in Japan, for example, requires a fax -- for some reason, Japan relies on fax machines and hasn't made the switch to scan-and-email yet. And everyone has a story of that business or service that doesn't accept an emailed scan or smartphone snap.

Hello, HelloFax

HelloFax is our online fax service of choice, with a range of fairly reasonable prices -- from free if you just need to send a couple of pages to $70 if you want thousands of pages and various extra features.

HelloFax also integrates cleverly with your Google Drive, both for incoming and outgoing faxes. To our minds, that makes it much better than an actual fax machine, since you won't need to wait by the machine for the fax to come in.

Outbound faxing is simple: right-click on a document in your Google Drive. You can also sign the document with a signature that you draw in with a mouse, upload from your computer or snap with your smartphone.

(If you don't have a Google Drive account, you can still fax by uploading a file from your computer instead.)

Inbound faxes come into your Google Drive account in a special HelloFax folder and are forwarded to your email as a PDF, ready for reading or printing. Your outbound faxes will be saved there as well for reference, or if the recipient doesn't get it.

Non-Google Drive users get a notification email with the PDF.

Note the Australian pricing 

HelloFax is priced by pages in US dollars, with certain other countries as a multiplier of the page. Sending a fax to Australia costs two "pages" per page of faxing, with other countries costing between 1 and five "pages".

The free option lets you send five "pages" (so two pages to Australia), with the paid accounts enabling the "receive" option on your own fax number. Paid accounts all have a 30-day free trial.

Prices are pretty good, with $5 option giving 50 "pages", $10 getting you 500 "pages" and a power user option for $70 giving you 2000 pages a month.

Get it: the basic version, using Google Drive or through the Chrome app.

For more nifty tricks and travel hacks, follow us on Twitter! We're @AusBT.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

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