Would it surprise you to learn that the fax machine is still a necessary part of life for many people? We might live in an age of technological wonder, but industries from medicine to mortgage brokers still rely on this 1980s tech to run their businesses and their lives. Fortunately, you don’t need to own a big fax machine with a dedicated phone line – we’ll show you how you can send faxes from iPad.
If you haven’t had to buy a house or deal with a law firm or the government recently, you might not know that the fax, as a means of sharing papers, is alive and well. It’s often the easiest way for customers, many of whom may not be technology experts, to share important documents, like contracts and bills.
It’s helped by the fact that many of these businesses are notoriously conservative, and thus reluctant to adopt new technologies. Fax rates are even higher in developing countries and Japan, so if you have to deal with companies in those nations, you might unexpectedly find yourself needing to send faxes there, too.
You can send faxes straight from your iPad, no fax machine necessary
Fortunately, sending a fax from your iPad is actually pretty easy. There are a number of apps in the App Store that can take care of this service for you – what generally happens is that you send the app developer a digital copy of your fax – either by scanning or taking a picture, for example – and they operate or contract out a computer that gets connected to the old-school phone lines. Even if your documents start life on your iPad, they can easily be sent to an old-school, beep-boop-bleep fax machine on the other end.
There are a few things to watch out for when you’re looking for the best app for sending faxes on iPad. First, you’ll want to make sure that the app supports taking a picture of the document you want to fax, which some apps will call “scanning” documents in. It should auto-recognize documents and even receipts, and straighten them for you – usually by detecting the corners of a page and determining where the straight lines are.
Once you find an app that manages to deliver good looking documents, take a look at how much it costs to send faxes. This is where many fax apps tend to fall down. If you’re looking to send out a lot of faxes each week, you’ll want to find a service that works on a subscription basis, instead of per-fax or per-page. Most people, however, are unlikely to send a fax all that often; these people will want to find apps that let charge a rate for each fax sent, with no other monthly costs. Many apps within this group will charge a flat rate per page (often up to $0.99 for every page sent!), while the best ones will charge in ranges based on how many pages you’ll need to send.
The best app for sending faxes from iPad
We looked at a number of options in the iOS App Store, and our choice for the best app to send faxes from an iPad is Readdle’s Scanner Pro (iTunes Link). It produces consistently great results, even in mediocre light, and one app purchase will let you scan documents and send faxes both from your iPad and your iPhone. You can take a skewed color image with low contrast, and the app will deliver an easy-to-read black and white scan, perfect for sending to a fax machine. It’s the best option when you need to sign a paper document and fax it back to an entity.
Scanner Pro managed to “scan” a pretty good copy of this crumpled Star Wars ticket, even in a low light setting.
The best part, however, has to do with Scanner Pro’s fax price structure. Instead of charging a monthly fee or per page, you get charged based on how many pages you’ll need to fax. There are three prices: Fax Unit pack 1, Fax Unit pack 2, and Fax Unit pack 5, which are 99 cents, $1.99, and $4.99, respectively. Faxes of up to and including three pages fit in pack 1, faxes of between 4 and 7 pages fit in pack 2, and faxes of more than 7 pages will fit in pack 5. If you’re sending a fax from the US to the US, however, you can fit up to 7 pages in the 99-cent pack 1.
While Scanner Pro is itself not free, the app’s cost is a single purchase, and comes with quick updates for new versions of iOS or new iPads. Most of the time it costs $6.99, but you can snag it for the time being at just 99 cents.
To send a fax, all you need to do is snap a picture with the app, or once in the Scanner Pro app, open a previously saved document (it supports cloud services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and others, as well as integrates nicely with the iOS Photos app), and tap the Share button near the bottom of the screen. You’ll see a list of options appear – one of them will be to fax your document.
If you tap on fax, you’ll get the option to fill out the country it’s going to, the fax number where you’re sending the document, the recipient’s and sender’s names, as well as the option to add a cover page. Fill that out and hit next, and Scanner Pro will determine how many pages your fax is, and confirm how much it’ll cost – from there, you can enter your iTunes password or use Touch ID, and poof! Your fax is uploaded and sent out.
The best app for signing faxes and PDFs on iPad
Sometimes, however, you’ll need to sign a document and email it back out (if you need to email a paper copy, you can sign it via pen, and upload it in Scanner Pro – just like sending a fax in the last section). Readdle makes a companion app named PDF Expert 5 (iTunes Link) that will help you out. The biggest reason we went with PDF Expert 5 is Readdle’s constant updates and support – while many signing apps still don’t support the iPad Pro, PDF Expert 5 (as well as Scanner Pro) already do, and manage to look great. That means that if you’re using an Apple Pencil in conjunction with the iPad Pro, you’ll probably want to use it to do the edits and signing, rather than your finger.
The other reason we like PDF Expert 5 over other options is its affordability. Many document signing apps will charge per signed document, which seems like a ridiculous cost, or impose monthly or yearly fees, or fill up with ads. PDF Expert 5 has a single fee to buy the app, after which all the features are unlocked – in addition to signing, the app supports any number of PDF markup tools, and you can store multiple signatures, which is handy for spouses or administrative assistants.
To sign a document with PDF Expert 5, first you’ll need to open it in app. You can tap on a PDF in your email and open it within PDF Expert 5, or browse your favorite cloud storage service from within the app to find the document you want. Once you have the document open in the app, tap on an icon in the left navigation bar that looks like a fountain pen. This will open the signature dialog – if you haven’t saved a signature before, you can do it from this menu. Once you have a signature stored in the app, you can simply press and hold where in your document you want to sign, tap on signatures, then ‘My Signature’ – the app will deposit your signature where you first tapped, but you can move it to wherever on the page you need it.