We first looked at how to use your PC to send and receive faxes eighteen months ago, a lot has happened since then. Email has taken over as the preferred means of moving text and documents from one place to another but the biggest change is that Microsoft, in its infinite wisdom, decided not to include a stand-alone fax utility in Windows 98. That upset quite a lot of people who upgraded from Windows 95 and we get a steady stream of letters and emails – and quite a few faxes – asking how the feature can be restored.

That really doesn't surprise us, fax still has a several advantages over email. To begin with a hard copy appears more or less instantly on the recipients fax machine where it commands immediate attention and you get instant notification that it has arrived safely. Admittedly email is a lot cheaper to use, especially when sending documents abroad, though there are ways of sending faxes over the Internet and we'll look at those in a moment.

The good news is that Microsoft hasn't abandoned fax but has integrated the facility into various applications like Outlook and Word. There's also a separate fax program, called At Work Fax, hidden deep hidden inside the Windows 98 CD-ROM. Another development that has made faxing more PC-friendly has been the appearance of several modems with a built-in fax capability, which means you don't have to leave your PC switched on or in standby mode to receive in-coming faxes.

We'll begin by reminding Windows 95 users how to install and use Microsoft Fax since it may not to be included as standard Windows component. From the Start menu go to Settings and the Control Panel, select Add/Remove Programs and the Windows Setup tab. Scroll down the list to find Microsoft Fax, check the box next to it and click on the OK button. Follow the prompts and when asked insert the CD-ROM installation disc.

When it has finished you will be able to send a fax direct from applications like Microsoft Word by clicking on Print on the File menu. In the window that appears choose Microsoft Fax from the list of Printers, click OK and this will start the Compose Fax Wizard. It asks you enter the recipients fax number and gives you the option to include a cover page. Word 97 includes a selection of blank Fax templates that you can personalise these can be found on the File menu, select New and the Letters & Faxes tab.

Now we move on to Windows 98 and a word of warning. If you have Outlook 98 or 2000 installed on your machine you should use the built-in faxing utility. Problems can arise if you install At Work Fax since this will overwrite critical files. You'll have to muck about removing and re-installing Outlook to get it to work. To enable WinFax in Outlook go to Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel, locate Outlook, click the Add/Remove button and confirm that you want to Add New Components. Follow the prompts, insert the CD-ROM, choose the Mail Components option and select Symantec WinFax from the list. When you next start Outlook you will be asked to configure WinFax and this will include the option for automatic reception of faxes. WinFax also check the modem is operating correctly and helps you to design and layout cover pages.

If you haven't got Outlook on your machine then you can safely install At Work Fax from the Windows 98 CD-ROM. Pop the disc into the drive and exit the setup program if it starts automatically. Open Windows Explorer or right click on the CD-ROM icon in My Computer and choose Explore, Open the Tools Folder, then Oldwin95, Message and Intl and you will see two files called 'wms.exe' and awfax.exe. Double click on wms.exe, click OK to the licence agreement and the program automatically installs itself on your C: drive. If you are asked to configure the mail client you can say no at this stage and elect to do it later. Next double click on awfax.exe, it also installs itself and asks permission to restart the PC. A new icon should appear on your desktop called Inbox, double click on it and the fax configuration wizard starts, follow the prompts to enter your phone number and it's ready to go.

To fax send a fax from a word processing program like Word or WordPad select Print from the File menu -- as before – and choose Microsoft Fax from the list of printers to start the Compose Fax wizard. Word 97 also has it's own fax utility, you'll also find this on the File menu, under Send To, click on Fax Recipient and the Fax Wizard starts. It only takes a few moments to fill in the details of where you want it to go, and whether or not you want a cover page.   

Earlier we mentioned that you could send faxes from a PC over the Internet to a fax machine. It's a good way of cutting the cost of sending international faxes but be prepared for your documents to carry advertising and you may end up on junk fax mailing lists, nevertheless two sites worth investigating are:

Next week – Creating forms




A customisable fax page containing your name, company name, phone number, recipients details etc.


Effectively the PC goes to 'sleep', programs stop running and the hard disc powers down. The PC can be programmed to wake up when the modem detects an incoming call


A self-activating helper program that guides you through a simple set-up routine for a particular feature or application



If you use Word 97 and habitually work with a lot of open documents, you will know how time consuming it can be to save and close each document separately, when you exit the program. There's a hidden set of commands that will speed things up considerably. All you have to do is hold down the shift key and then move the mouse pointer to the File drop-down menu. You will see that Close has changed to Close All, and Save is now Save All. To exit Word in double quick time click Save All, followed by Close All and watch those documents disappear! Incidentally, Word will prompt you to name any untitled documents, so there's no fear of loosing track of anything.

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