Phone/Fax/Answering Machine Setup

I found these two articles online somewhere which should help you get your phone/fax/answering machine set up right.
They both say pretty much the same thing but in a little different manner.  Hope it helps!
(The second article starts under the picture)
When you have an external telephone answering device (TAD) on the same telephone line as the fax machine, the TAD answers all calls and the fax machine "listens" for fax calling (CNG) tones. If it hears them, the fax machine takes over the call and receives the fax. If it doesn't hear CNG tones, the fax machine lets the TAD continue playing your outgoing message so your caller can leave you a voice message. 

The TAD must answer within four rings (the recommended setting is two rings). The fax machine cannot hear CNG tones until the TAD has answered the call, and with four rings there are only 8 to 10 seconds of CNG tones left for the fax "handshake". Make sure you carefully follow the instructions in this manual for recording your outgoing message. We do not recommend using the toll saver feature on your external answering machine if it exceeds four rings.

  1. Plug the telephone line cord from the wall jack into the back side of the fax machine, in the jack labeled LINE.
  2. Plug the telephone line cord from your external TAD into the back side of the fax machine, in the jack labeled EXT. (Make sure this cord is connected to the TAD at the TAD's telephone line jack, and not its telephone set jack.)
  3. Set your external TAD to four rings or less.
  4. Record the outgoing message on your external TAD.
  5. Set the TAD to answer calls.
  6. Set the Receive Mode to TAD:ANSWER MACH..

If You Subscribe to your Telephone Company's Distinctive Ring Service:

You may connect an external TAD to a separate wall jack only if you subscribe to your telephone company's Distinctive Ring service, have registered the distinctive ring pattern on the fax machine, use that number as a fax number and set your machine's Receive mode to MANUAL. The Ring Delay setting on the TAD must be 4 rings or more when you have the telephone company's Distinctive Ring Service.

If You Do Not Subscribe to Distinctive Ring Service:

You must plug your TAD into the EXT. jack of the fax machine. If your TAD is plugged into a wall jack, both your fax machine and the TAD will try to control the phone line.


Do not connect a TAD elsewhere on the same phone line (unless you have the Distinctive Ring service).

Set up a Fax Machine & an Answering Machine on One Line

My latest consumer electronics challenge was attempting to get our fax machine to play nice with our telephone answering machine on the same telephone line.  To jump to the step-by-step approach that worked for me, please scroll down to the numbered steps. 

My fax machine is in a Brother MFC-8460N.  My telephone answering machine is a garden variety AT&T unit with a cordless phone that sits in it.  

The fax manufacturer's setup instructions came complete with a decision tree diagram.  Though helpful, they did not provide the step-by-step solution that I, a consumer electronics user but non-expert, find easiest to use.  If a reader knows a better way or has a suggestion for improvement -- it would be most appreciated if you would share it with me, and I will revise this guide accordingly. 

I am writing this to share info with those who undertake the same task, possibly saving them some time, as well as the cost of a separate, dedicated fax line that may not be worth the monthly outlay.  

All that said, this was my vision:  

·    A call comes in, be it a person who wants to talk or be it a fax.  Fine.  If it's a person, and I'm not there, the person can leave me a message.  If it's a fax:  a) I don't have to be there and b) I don't have to do anything ... just, voila, the fax gets received and printed out automatically.  Everybody's happy.  

·    If I am at my desk, and the phone rings, I can choose to pick it up, worrying just a little bit about whether it is an incoming fax that I might abort (who knows) and that the caller might then need to resend (I think this might happen, don't really know.)  But that's ok with me, as I get more people calls than faxes, and am happy to just let the machines handle the incomings, with me doing my part by returning voice messages and reading faxes when I am ready to do so.

How hard can this be, I thought.  

Well, it was pretty hard.  It was time-consuming and frustrating at times.  I had to abandon my original plan of putting the fax machine off in a separate room someplace, since I don't use it that often.  Also, during my setup phase, people who called usually received an eardrum-piercing series of fax tones ...  always nice.  The two devices duked it out, one wresting control from the other, as I attempted to follow the manufacturer's instructions involving various codes and settings, while taking trial and error notes.  My brother, who has probably disowned me by now, sent me numerous test faxes throughout the process.  

Finally, at last, success. I hit on a setup that worked to my satisfaction.  Like so many things in life, once you already know how to do them, they make sense and are easy.

Anyway, here's what I did, step by step:  

1.  Put the two devices near each other, and within reach of a phone wall jack.

2.  Go to the fax machine.  Take the telephone line with the clip on the end of it that comes out of the fax machine.  Put that into the telephone wall jack. 

3.  Go to the answering machine.  Take its telephone line with the clip on the end of it and put that into the BACK OF THE FAX MACHINE.  The port on the back of my fax machine says something like EXT TAD which means external telephone answering device.  

4.  Go back to the fax machine.  You'll now need to play around with the menu options for the fax.  My Brother MFC shows this stuff in a little screen on the front.  Try and find the Fax Setup options.  Next, try and find the Fax Receive options.  If you do, select something like External TAD fax receive mode.  Do not give up, you're almost done.

5.  Next, set ring numbers on both devices, the fax machine and the answering machine.  I set both devices' ring numbers to 4.  I don't know if these are the optimal settings, or what happens if you set them at different ring numbers.  I only know that a "4 and 4" setting works for me, and am not inclined to mess with it.

6.  Final detail:  the setup should be transparent to a voice caller.  Someone who is sending a fax, though, might be a little confused IF, like me, they lean over to listen to their fax machine dial and screech, just to be sure it's working.  Such a person may faintly hear my outgoing answering machine message before they heard my fax machine's screech kick in.  They might think that they had a wrong number, cancel the fax, try again, call me with questions, etc., etc.  So I changed my outgoing message to something like:  'You have reached xxx xxx xxxx.  To leave a voice msg, please wait for the tone.  To send a fax, please continue the transmission and it will be printed.  Thank you!'  

That's it.  Hope this was helpful to someone!