How to Read a QR Code

By Anne Hirsh

Quick Response (QR) codes store information, much like bar codes on the items you purchase in retail stores. Also like these items, QR codes require a scanner. Most data-enabled mobile devices that have built-in cameras can scan QR codes. The camera acts as the scanner, and the app translates the code into information, such as a company's contact information, a short message, a coupon or a link to more information. QR stands for "Quick response" because scanning the code allows a nearly instant response with further information about the company providing the code.

Things You'll Need

  • Data-enabled phone with camera

Step 1

If you do not already have a QR scanner, open your phone's applications store, such as the App Store on the iPhone or the Android Market on an Android-based phone.

Step 2

Enter the term "QR reader" into the store's search box, and choose one of the scanners that comes up as a result. Your phone might have both free and paid options, so read the features carefully to find a QR scanner that suits your needs.

Step 3

Download and install your chosen scanner on your phone. Start the app after it finishes installing.

Step 4

Hold the device with the camera toward the QR code. Follow any onscreen instructions if the app does not automatically scan the code. Some devices might require that you press the photo capture button or other feature to begin scanning.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check the apps on your device to see whether it already has a built-in QR scanner. Look for an icon that looks like a QR code, or open your device's "Help" menu and search for "QR code." As QR codes become more widely used, some phone developers might include the scanner as a basic feature of the core software.
  • Some devices other than phones, such as the iPad 2, can also read QR codes.