How to Setup a Fax Machine

By Kate Evelyn

Updated September 28, 2017

Items you will need

  • Telephone cable

  • Scanner (optional)

  • Windows XP setup disc (optional)

There are two ways to use a fax machine in your home or office. You can either have a standalone fax machine, or you can use your computer for this purpose. Either way, setup is very simple. You don’t even have to be a tech guru to do it. First, decide if you’d like to have a separate phone line for your faxes so they don’t interrupt communications at the office. If so, have the phone company install the line before you get started with fax setup.

Setting Up a Traditional Machine

Set your fax machine on a flat and even surface. Plug the power cord into the wall. Fill the paper tray and slide it into the front of the machine.

Plug one end of a standard phone cable into the phone jack and the opposite end into the port on the fax machine. It’s usually on the back or the side.

Turn on the machine and pick up its telephone. If you don’t hear a dial tone, check your phone cable to make sure it’s secure. Then turn to the LCD screen and start programming your options. Since all machines are different, see the instructions in the owner’s manual.

Place your document in the fax machine. There should be an icon on the machine telling you if it goes face up or face down. Then dial the number and wait for confirmation.

Setting Up Your Computer as a Fax

From the Start menu on your PC, select “Printers and faxes.” Then go to “Printer tasks” and click on “Set up faxing.” This will launch the setup wizard.

Put your Windows XP disc in your machine when prompted. Then pick your modem from the provided list. Give it a name, such as “fax machine 1.” Then let the wizard finish the setup, clicking "OK" when needed.

Hook up a scanner to your machine if you’d like to fax paper documents. Otherwise, you can simply fax electronic files. To fax, open your file and tell the software you’re using to “print” to the fax machine. For example, instead of choosing the name for your printer, select “fax machine 1.” Then enter the phone number when you're prompted.


If you can’t get a dial tone on your fax machine, try plugging a traditional phone into the line. That way, you'll at least know if it’s your machine or the phone connection that's at fault.

Fan out your paper before you put it in the fax. Some machines have a tendency to jam.