Windows 2000 includes a native fax service called, appropriately, Microsoft Fax. You can use the fax service to send and receive faxes through a fax modem. Microsoft Fax includes a handful of cover sheets and enough handy features to make it a good, general-purpose fax solution for most users. With a little poking and prodding, you can even get it to deliver your incoming faxes to your Microsoft Outlook mailbox. In today’s Daily Drill Down, I’ll show you how to do just that.

What about XP?

Microsoft opted to remove support for Outlook from the fax service included with Windows XP. Although you can certainly send and receive faxes with it, you can’t configure it to deliver your faxes to Outlook. You need a third-party fax application that supports the Messaging Application Programming Interface (MAPI) to accomplish that in Windows XP.

Faxing in Windows 2000
As you might expect, the fax service operates as a fax printer, enabling you to fax from any application. You can choose from a handful of cover pages, customize the existing ones, or create new ones with the Cover Page Editor, which is also included. Cover pages can include variables for such information as your name, fax number, and other properties that you set within the fax service.

Sending a fax with Microsoft Fax requires a fax modem connected to the computer. The service doesn’t support sharing, however, which means that others on the network can’t send faxes through a shared fax modem. To do that you’ll need a third-party application or the fax service included with Small Business Server.

Naturally, Microsoft Fax can also receive incoming faxes. It offers three options for handling received faxes. You can configure the service to print the fax to any local or network printer, save it to a folder (the default), or deliver the fax to Microsoft Outlook. If you choose the option to save incoming faxes to a folder, Windows stores them as TIF files, which you can view with the Imaging application included with Windows 2000 in the Accessories folder. You can use the Imaging applet to add annotations, print the fax, rotate pages, and so on.

The third option is the focus of this article: Microsoft Fax’s ability to deliver incoming faxes to a Microsoft Outlook account. When you choose this option, you specify an Outlook profile on the local computer. Microsoft Fax delivers the incoming faxes to the Inbox folder of the specified profile. If you’re running Outlook 2000, the fax service can deliver incoming faxes to your Inbox only if Outlook is running in Corporate/Workgroup mode. You’ll have to use a third-party application if you need to deliver incoming faxes to a profile that uses Internet-Only mode. Outlook 2002, included in Office XP, integrates all messaging into a single, unified mode. So Outlook 2002 can use the native Windows fax service for fax delivery regardless of the types of accounts in the profile.

If you need extended fax features like fax modem sharing or fax broadcast, you’ll have to take a look at third-party applications. For casual fax use, however, the Windows fax service is a handy and inexpensive way to pull faxes into the Inbox.

Configuring the fax service
When you install Windows 2000, Setup installs the fax service automatically, so you don’t need to use the Add/Remove Programs applet to add it. In fact, the Add/Remove Windows Components list doesn’t include the fax service, so you can’t uninstall it (at least not without some sleight-of-hand). Although you don’t have to install the fax service, you do need to configure it to enable it to work with Microsoft Outlook. There are three general requirements to get the Windows 2000 Microsoft Fax to work with Outlook:

  • User account: The user’s account must be a member of the local Administrator’s group.
  • Service logon: The Microsoft Fax service must be configured to log on with the user’s account rather than the system account.
  • Account rights: The user’s logon account must have the right to log on as a service.

If none of these three requirements stresses your security requirements or policies too far, you can start configuring the service.

Configuring the user’s account
When configuring the service, start with the assumption that the user’s computer is a member of a workgroup rather than a domain. First, log on to the computer with the administrator account, right-click My Computer, and choose Manage to call up the Computer Management console. Expand the Local Users and Groups branch and click the Users node. Double-click the user account used to log on to Outlook. Click the Member Of tab, add the Administrators group, and click OK. Then, close the Computer Management console.

If the user’s computer is a domain member, you need to use a slightly different method. Log on to the user’s computer as administrator, right-click My Computer, and choose Manage. Expand the Local Users And Groups branch, and then click the Groups node. Double-click the Administrators group and click Add in the Administrators Properties sheet. In the Select Users Or Groups dialog box, select the domain where the user’s account resides from the Look In drop-down list. Select the user’s domain account, click Add, and click OK. Click OK again to close the property sheet, and then close the Computer Management console.

Adding the fax transport to the profile
After you configure the user’s account as a member of the local Administrators group, your next step is to add the fax transport to the profile. For Outlook 2000, right-click the Outlook icon on the desktop and choose Properties, or open the Mail applet in the Control Panel. Click Show Profiles, select the user’s profile, and click Properties. If the Fax Mail Transport isn’t listed in the installed services, click Add, select Fax Mail Transport in the list of available services, and click OK. Click OK to close the profile, and then click Close to close the Mail property sheet.

For Outlook 2002, right-click the Outlook icon on the desktop and choose Properties, or open the Mail applet from the Control Panel. In the Mail Setup dialog box, click E-mail Accounts. Select Add a New E-Mail Account and click Next. Select Additional Server Types and click Next. Select Fax Mail Transport and click Next, then click Close.

Configuring the fax service
The third step to integrating the Windows 2000 fax service with Outlook is to configure the service to log on with the user’s account. Use the Services console to configure the fax service’s logon account. To open the console, open the Computer Management console, expand the Services And Applications branch, and click on the Services node. Then double-click the fax service to open its property sheet.

You’ll probably want the service to start automatically, so select Automatic from the Startup Type drop-down list on the General tab. Next, click the Log On tab. By default, the fax service uses the System account to log on. Click the This Account option, and then click Browse to select the user’s local account. Enter the associated password in the password fields and click OK. Windows 2000 automatically grants the account the right to log on as a service. Stop and restart the fax service to make the change take effect.

After you configure the service logon properties, the next step is to configure the delivery options for the service. Click Start | Accessories | Communications | Fax | Fax Service Management to open the Fax Service Management console. Click Devices and double-click the fax modem. Select Enable Receive, set the number of rings allowed before the modem answers, and then click the Received Faxes tab. The bottom option on the page, Send To Local E-mail Inbox, lets you configure delivery to Outlook. Select this option and then select from the Profile Name drop-down list the profile containing the Inbox to which you want the incoming faxes delivered. As a precaution against lost messages, consider also delivering the faxes to a folder. If you accidentally lose one in Outlook, you can always pull up the copy stored in the target folder. The default location is Documents and Settings\All Users\Documents\My Faxes\Received Faxes.

Configuring Microsoft Fax options
At this point, Microsoft Fax is ready to start delivering faxes to Outlook. However, you might want to take the extra step to configure the rest of the fax options now. To do so, log on as administrator and click Start | Programs | Accessories | Communications | Fax | Fax Server Management to open the Fax Service Management console. Next, right-click Fax Service On Local Computer and choose Properties to open the fax service property sheet. The General tab contains several options that control the way the service sends outgoing faxes:

  • Retry Characteristics: These settings determine the actions that the fax service takes if the initial attempt to deliver the fax fails.
  • Print Banner On Top Of Each Sent Page: When this option is enabled, the fax service includes your name, fax number, and other information at the top of outgoing faxes. You configure this information through the Fax applet in the Control Panel.
  • Use The Sending Device TSID: With this option enabled, the fax service includes the Transmission Station Identifier (TSID) of the fax device on the cover page rather than the fax number specified in the user properties.
  • Don’t Allow Personal Cover Pages: Enable this option to prevent users from using cover pages other than the default pages included with Windows 2000.
  • Archive Outgoing Faxes In: Enable this option to store a copy of all outgoing faxes in the specified target folder, which defaults to Documents And Settings\All Users\Documents\Faxes\My Faxes\Sent Faxes.
  • Discount Period: Use this option to set the time range when outgoing calls are less expensive, based on your long-distance phone plan.
  • E-mail Profile Name: In addition to delivering incoming faxes to an Outlook profile, the fax service can also send delivery notifications of outgoing faxes to an Outlook profile. Use this drop-down list to specify the location of the profile.

The Security tab lets you control the actions that users can take with the fax service. By default, administrators and power users have full control over the fax service and can manage other users’ faxes. All users can send faxes and manage their own faxes, but not those created by others. You can add and remove users as needed and set their permissions to control their ability to fax.

Configuring user settings
In addition to configuring general settings for the fax service, you should also take the time to configure user settings. You configure these settings through the Fax applet in the Control Panel. The applet displays a tabbed property sheet containing four tabs. The User Information tab lets you specify the name, fax number, e-mail address, and other general information that the fax service can include on cover pages and the fax banner. The information included on a cover page depends entirely on the variables defined on that page. You can use the Fax Cover Page Editor to view and modify existing cover pages, as well as create new ones.

You can access the Fax Cover Page Editor from the Cover Pages tab, which also lists your personal cover pages. The default pages are stored in Documents And Settings\All Users\Documents\My Faxes\Common Coverpages, and your personal pages are stored in My Documents\Fax\Personal Coverpages. Click New to open the editor to create a new page; click Add to copy a cover page to your personal folder (for example, copying from the common store); or open a cover page for editing. Use the Status Monitor tab to configure options that control how the service receives faxes and displays their status. Use the Advanced Options tab to open the management console (which I already discussed), open the Help file for the fax service, or add a new fax printer.

Working with received faxes
You can choose either automatic or manual fax reception. If you choose the automatic route, the modem answers automatically and the service stores the fax in your Inbox. If you opt for manual reception, Windows displays a dialog box when it detects an incoming fax call. The user simply clicks Yes to receive the fax. Regardless of which method you use, the fax is attached to a notification e-mail message with Received Fax as the message subject.

Faxes are stored as TIF files, which by default are associated with the Microsoft Office Document Imaging application. If your system has a different application associated with TIF files, that application would open instead. In order to view a multipage TIF fax, the viewing application must support multipage TIF files. If you’ve installed a graphics application that took over TIF file association, and you want to restore the association to the Document Imaging application, simply restore the original association. Open My Computer and choose Tools | Folder Options. Click the File Types tab, scroll through the documents list to select TIF, and click Change. Then select Microsoft Office Document Imaging and click OK. Click OK to close the Folder Options dialog box. Test the change by opening a received fax and verifying that it opens in the Document Imaging application.

Moving the fax from the Inbox
Finally, the Windows 2000 fax service doesn’t give the user the ability to specify the target folder for incoming faxes—it always stores them in the Inbox folder. However, users can create a rule to store incoming faxes in a different folder if they prefer. They simply create a new rule with the condition  With Specific Words  In The Subject. Next, they must enter Received Fax as the words to match, specify the action Move It To The Specified Folder, and choose the folder in which the faxes will be stored. Voila! All incoming faxes with the subject titled Received Fax will now be stored in the user-specified folder.