How to scan QR codes with your iPhone or iPad

You used to need a third party app to scan QR codes, but now the feature is built right into iOS.

thinkstock qr code

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QR codes can be really handy. A grid of seemingly random black-and-white squares can hold enough information to store website URLs, contact information, email addresses, pre-defined SMS text messages, and even your WiFi SSID and password.

Put a QR code on your business card, and people can copy all your contact info into their phone in a heartbeat. Post a QR code somewhere in your house, and guests can use it to instantly sign on to your Wi-Fi network.

You used to need a third-party app to scan QR codes, but with iOS 11 Apple built it right into the camera app. It couldn't be easier to use.

How to scan a QR code

  1. First, open the Camera app.
  2. Then, point the camera at a QR code so it can see it clearly.

That's it! A notification should pop up with an action based on the QR code scanned. If it contains a Wi-Fi SSID and passcode, you can join the network with just a tap without the need for typing or tinkering with the Settings menu. If it contains contact info, you'll be prompted to add the person to your iPhone's Contacts.

qr join wifi IDG

Joining a Wi-Fi network by pointing your camera at a funky image feels like the future.

If you're not seeing a notification popup even though the QR code is well-lit and clearly in view, check to make sure the feature is enabled. Head to Settings, then Camera. Make sure Scan QR Codes is enabled (and it should be on by default).

qr code enable IDG

QR codes won't scan? Make sure it's enabled in your Camera settings.

Making QR codes

Scanning QR codes is only half the fun. Once you see how convenient and powerful they can be, you may want to make a few of your own. Next time someone comes over and asks what your Wi-Fi password is, imagine pointing them to an inconspicuous spot on the wall and saying, "Just point your camera at that!"

Many websites can quickly make QR codes for you, which you can then download as an image, print out, or just save for later retrieval from your Photos app.

A few of our favorites are, The QR Code Generator, and QRCodeMonkey. The encoding format for QR codes is standardized, so it really doesn't matter which site you use, just pick the one with the features and interface you like best.

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