The “Business Fax” in Outlook

Over the years, people have levelled thousands of complaints against Microsoft Outlook. To Microsoft’s credit, they have listened to their customers, slowly but surely fixing bugs and interface annoyances over the years. However, a few of these “annoyances” remain, and none is more annoying to some people than the “Business Fax” number being listed in the Outlook Address Book.

Here’s the issue in a nutshell: if you open a new email in Outlook and click the “To:”, “CC:” or “BCC:” buttons on the email, you’ll be presented with a list of email addresses and “Business Fax” numbers from the selected Address Book.

For most people, these “Business Fax” numbers just get in the way. If they’re sending out a mass email, they can’t just select all the addresses in the list, as sending an email to a Business Fax address makes Outlook (and\or Exchange) throw a hissy fit. And it’s easily to accidentally click on “Bob Smith (Business Fax)” instead of “Bob Smith (Email)” and end up sending Bob… nothing.

You might ask why Business Fax numbers even appear in the Outlook Address Book in the first place. That’s because many companies have fax servers – a computer with one or more fax modems installed. Instead of walking across an office to a fax machine, you can simply send a fax over your local network to a fax server, which then sends it out. Microsoft Exchange (and other third-party software programs) have integrated fax servers with Outlook, so if your company has Exchange and a fax server, you can easily fax someone simply by creating a new email, addressing it to a “Business Fax” address, attaching a Word or Excel document (if desired) and sending it on to Exchange, which then forwards it on to the fax server. It’s quite handy, actually.

But for people that don’t have a fax server, it’s a pain to have to sift through fax number when sending an email. Thankfully, though, there’s a simple workaround: just put a letter (any letter, although I use “F”) in front of any “Business Fax” number entries (e.g. change Bob Smith Enterprise’s “Business Fax” entry from “704-555-1212” to “F704-555-1212”).

This will prevent the “Business Fax” numbers from appearing in the Address Book, but you will still be able to view the numbers in Outlook’s “Business Card” view (and, as you might guess, you can also see the information by opening the Contact).

One Reply to “The “Business Fax” in Outlook”

  1. 9 year-old post and business fax is still listed before mobile in Outlook contacts in 2017. Microsoft has no user experience division.

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