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How to scan a QR code on your phone or computer

Man scanning QR Code in magazine
A man scans QR Code in a magazine.
wundervisuals/Getty Images
  • You can scan a QR code using the camera on your smartphone, tablet, or computer.
  • Scanning QR codes lets you easily access websites, restaurant menus, videos, and more.
  • Most smartphones have QR scanners built-in, but you'll have to download third-party apps to do it on your Mac or PC.
  • Visit Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories.

If you're vigilant, you can find QR codes everywhere. These black-and-white squares tie the real world to the internet, and scanning them gives you quick access to ID cards, restaurant menus, social media sites, and more.

QR codes are so popular that nearly every device with a camera lets you scan them. Here's how to do it with your phone, tablet, or computer.

How to scan a QR code with an iPhone or iPad 

Both iPhones and iPads have a QR scanner built into the camera.

1. With a QR code nearby, open the camera on your iPhone or iPad. 

2. Position the camera so the QR code is in frame. Your iPhone or iPad should scan it automatically, without any input needed from you.

Once it scans the code, a notification will appear at the top of your screen with the link to the QR code's content. Tap this and you'll be brought to it.

Scanning a QR code using an iPhone camera.
Make sure that all four corners of the QR code are in frame.
Ron Lyons Jr./William Antonelli

How to scan a QR code with an Android phone or tablet

Similarly to Apple users, Android devices have the QR code scanner built into the camera. However, you might need to open a special app to use it.

1. With a QR code nearby, open the camera on your Android device.

2. Position the camera so the QR code is in frame. Your Android should scan it automatically, but if it doesn't, press and hold your finger on it.

You'll be given the link that the QR code leads to, and a choice to open it, copy the URL, or share it.

Scanning a QR code on an Android phone.
You'll be given a few choices of what to do with the QR code.
William Antonelli/Insider

If this doesn't work, download the Google Lens app from the Play Store. This app's QR scanner is one of its major features.

How to scan a QR code on a Mac

It isn't often you see people scanning QR codes with their computer, but if your Mac has a camera it can be easily done. The easiest and free app we've found is QR Journal, which you can download from the App Store.  

1. Download QR Journal and open the application. 

2. Click on Scan in the top-left corner and give the app permission to use your Mac's camera. You might have to restart the app after doing this.

A macOS QR code scanning app, with the "Scan" option highlighted.
Select the "Scan" option.
William Antonelli/Insider

3. Once your camera turns on, place your QR code in front of your computer's camera. Once it's identified, you'll be able to open or save it.

A QR code being scanned on a Mac.
You can open the link or save it.
William Antonelli/Insider

How to scan a QR code on a Windows PC

For PCs, the process is similar. We recommend downloading QR Code for Windows 10, which you can find in the Microsoft Store. 

1. Download QR Code for Windows 10 and open the app.

2. Give the app permission to access your camera, and then place your QR code in front of your PC's camera. 

A QR code on a piece of paper being held up to a camera.
Make sure the QR code fits in the camera frame.
William Antonelli/Insider

3. The app will read the QR code and then open it in an in-app browser.

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