How to switch a phone to fax

Updated March 23, 2017

If you work from home, run a small business with only one phone line or would simply like to receive faxes while in your house, switching your phone line between phone and fax may be the right solution for you. Though it may seem complicated, switching a phone line to a fax line or multi-use line is actually a simple process requiring several steps.

Purchase a line-sharing device. These machines recognise which type of call you are receiving and forward it directly to your phone, fax machine or answering machine.

Plug the line-sharing device into your regular phone jack. The device will have a cord similar to a phone cord, with a tab you press down to insert it into the phone jack. Depending on which device you purchase, you may also need to plug it into an electrical socket with a separate cord, usually provided with the machine.

Plug your phone and fax into the line-sharing machine. Each device should have a jack in the line-sharing machine specifically for it, marked with either a small image or with letters. If you have an answering machine, some line-sharing machines will also have an outlet for it; otherwise, you can plug it into your phone as usual.

Set the line-sharing device to automatic or semiautomatic, depending on your needs. If you wish to screen each call as it comes in, semiautomatic will work better for you; however, if you want the machine to automatically forward each type of call to the device it believes will answer it, set the machine on automatic.


If you don't wish to purchase a line-sharing machine, simply have your phone company install another line. A regular phone line --- set up without voice mail --- will also answer faxes when connected to a fax machine.

Things You'll Need

  • Phone
  • Fax machine
  • Phone line
  • Line-sharing device
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