How to Use a Fax Machine With Voicemail

by Cynthia Gomez

In office settings, it's common for fax machines to have their own dedicated phone lines, but those who work from home may find this financially inefficient and prefer to have their existing phone lines double as their fax lines. If your phone's voice mail system picks up when faxes are trying to come through, however, you may experience problems getting your faxes.

Connect your fax machine to your phone using the included wires. Look for a port on your fax machine (usually on the side or back) with a picture of a telephone if you're not sure where the wire goes in. If using a stand-alone fax machine, connect the answering machine directly into the fax machine.

Ask a friend to fax you a document before taking any further action. Sit by your phone and fax machine. Look at the LCD display on your fax to see if the machine picks up the phone. You will see a message that says "receiving" or something similar. Many fax machines "listen" for the high-pitch tone of a fax on the line to determine if they need to kick into action to receive a fax. If it does, your fax will come through shortly. If not, proceed to the following steps.

Navigate through your fax machine's menu, looking for "Rings to Answer" settings or something similarly named. Typically, you should set your fax machine to answer after two rings greater than your voicemail. For example, if your voicemail is set to answer after three rings, your fax machine should be set to answer after five.

Retry receiving a fax. If it still does not work, reverse this order temporarily so that your fax machine is set to answer before your voicemail. This is only a temporary solution, as you don't want your fax machine always picking up before your voicemail, or you won't be able to receive voicemail messages. Thus, once you get your fax, reverse the order again.

Re-record your voicemail message. Speak in an even tone, avoiding high pitches that your fax machine, in "listening" mode, may mistake for an incoming fax. Keep recording after you've stopped talking, so that there are between five and seven seconds of silence after your greeting. This will give your fax machine the time it needs to pick up and kick in.

Ask your friend to retry sending you a fax. This time, it should come in.

Tip

  • Let people sending faxes know that they may hear your voicemail pick up and that they should proceed with the fax. People may get confused and hang up, thinking they did something wrong.

About the Author

Cynthia Gomez has been writing and editing professionally for more than a decade. She is currently an editor at a major publishing company, where she works on various trade journals. Gomez also spent many years working as a newspaper reporter. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northeastern University.

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