QR Codes are everywhere, do you know what to do with them?

The watchword during a pandemic is “Contactless” – don’t touch anything. That’s why we’re seeing QR codes in restaurants these days. Instead of a menu that gets passed from hand to hand, the restaurant just prints a QR code on the table on on a stand up sign. Use your phone to scan the code, and you can read the menu on your phone.

That’s just one example of how QR codes are proliferating today. They’ve also gotten a lot easier to read. You don’t need any special app, just use your phone’s camera and focus on the code. So, for example, if you point your camera at the code on the left, you should see a notice pop up on your phone’s screen. Tap on that notice and it will open a document – the 2021 Preface to our Learn Google Photos book. If you focus on the code at the right and tap the message that pops up, it will take you to a YouTube video about editing photos. Other QR codes may give you discount coupons, maps, or contact information.

Two QR codes. One opens a document, the other opens a YouTube video.

Did it work?

What if nothing happens when you focus your camera on a code? There are a few things it could be. Maybe there isn’t enough light, or you’re at a bad angle? You might want to just try it again. If it still doesn’t work (and you’ve never seen it work on your phone) it may be that you need to change a setting. All iPhones should be able to scan QR codes as long as the setting for Camera to scan QR codes is on. Most new Androids can also scan QR codes with the camera as long as the camera setting for scan QR codes is ON. Older or less popular models of Android may not have this capability and you’ll need to download a separate app, like QR Droid or Google Lens. On Pixel phones, QR scanning is a mode on the camera.

How do you make your own QR code?

Let’s say you’d like to put a QR code that links to your blog on your business card. A new browser feature has made it incredibly simple to make a QR code that links to a web page. Just click in the address bar of the web page and you’ll see a little square icon. Click on that and a QR code is now created that links to that web page! For a lot more information about making your own QR codes, see Episode 146 of “What Does This Button Do?”

A QR code can even be interactive. When you scan this last code, it will take you to a form where you can enter your name and email to subscribe to our Newsletter.