A fax printer normally refers to a program which converts documents of various types into a TIFF file suitable for faxing. This type of product became fairly widespread following the advent of fax modems.
A fax printer essentially is a piece of software that takes advantage of the virtual printing capability. This implies that once it is installed, a new printer shows up on the system. To create a fax, a user needs to find the document to be faxed, open it in the associated editor or viewer, and print. This causes the fax printer to convert the file into a TIFF file and store it on the computer’s hard drive or a remote server. Following that, the document can be faxed using a fax modem or a dedicated service.
The market currently offers quite a few fax printers. Some have minimal functionality only. They simply convert document to TIFF. Normally, these are freeware redistributable utilities. Others offer conversion configuration capability: by selecting a compression algorithm, creating a single file out of several source documents, etc. In addition, several fax printer products enable users to apply signatures or stamps to the documents being created, to modify their scale, resolution, etc. This functionality is usually found in commercial software.
See also: PDF Server, Virtual Printer, PDF Print Drivers.