How to fax from macOS Sierra

Apple dumped USB modem support for faxing, but still claims it exists.

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Dale Mericle needs to fax, and he’s relied on his Mac since 2000. In macOS Sierra, it no longer works: his USRobotics 5637 doesn’t appear as a printer option. Dale, it’s not you, and it’s not USRobotics, which continues to support this popular USB modem model for dial-up Internet connections, but notes that macOS Sierra doesn’t support faxing.

Apple has a support page updated in September that claims macOS continues to allow direct fax modem support, but folks who rely on faxing have posted reports all over the Internet about how their various USB modems no longer work as a destination for output. Modem makers seem to have confirmed this, though perhaps to avoid annoying Apple, it’s rather tepidly stated on update pages.

But you can still fax from a Mac—just not through a USB modem.

  • If you’re considering upgrading or swapping out a printer, scanner, or combo unit for something more robust, look at a multi-function printer that includes fax service. MFPs typically copy, print, scan, and fax (incoming and outgoing) via a feeder or flatbed and integrate with desktop software. The Wirecutter recommends the HP OfficeJet 8720 All-in-One Printer ($200 on Amazon). Check with whatever MFP you consider to make sure it supports Mac-based faxing and is up to date or compatible with macOS 10.12.

  • Sign up for a web-based fax service. You upload a PDF, Word doc, or other files, and manage an address book online. Incoming faxes typically arrive via email, or can be downloaded from your account page. TidBITS has a detailed rundown on affordable offerings after Maxemail, a budget service I relied on for years, was acquired by eFax and quintupled its price. Read reviews carefully; we haven’t tested these services individually.

  • Look for a Mac fax app; some of the web-based fax services also feature Mac and iOS apps that link to the same account and let you print directly. Again, we haven’t reviewed these services, so look for reviews and recommendations from friends and colleagues.

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