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How to scan QR codes on your iPhone or iPad

It's really easy to scan QR codes on iOS devices

How to scan QR codes on your iPhone or iPad

It's easy to scan QR codes on your iPhone, iPad, or other iOS device, if you know what you're doing. If not – you've come to the right place and we'll talk you through how to scan a QR code on your Apple product.

While QR codes didn't turn out to be as popular as most people thought they were going to be, quite a few shops, websites and locations use them as a way to communicate or store information. Ticket websites, coupon codes, website links, and contact information is all often stored through QR codes.

It's really easy to scan QR codes on your iPhone or iPad, because Apple built a QR code reader right into its camera up, so it's quite a simple process if you need to scan something.

But as with all tech software, it can sometimes be fiddly working out what to do, or getting your iOS device to recognize what it's looking at. That's why we've come up with this simple guide on how to scan a QR code with an iPhone.

This works has worked since iOS 11, coming in as a useful extra, and has been upgraded a few times with every new version of Apple's OS.

How do I scan a QR code on iPhone?

  1. Open up the camera app on your iPhone or iPad
  2. Hold the camera so the QR code is clearly visible
  3. Your device will recognize the code, and show you a notification
  4. Tap the notification to be taken to the destination of your QR code

How to scan a QR code on iPhone and iPad

First, open up the camera app on your iPhone or iPad. This can usually be found on the home page, in the bottom right corner of the device, although on iPads it's on the first page and if you've moved it around it'll be somewhere else.

Now, hold the device's camera up to the QR code. No need to hit the shutter button, your iOS device will automatically recognize the QR code and provide you with an on-screen notification. (Make sure you have mobile signal or you're connected to Wi-Fi, otherwise this won't work.)

Tap the notification to be taken to the destination of the QR code. This could be a website, app, or feature of your phone. Remember, you can now change the default browser on your iPhone or iPad, thanks to a relaxation in recent versions of iOS, meaning you'll see a notification to go to Chrome or Safari when scanning.

There – in those few steps, you've easily scanned a QR code on your iPhone or iPad.

An example of a QR code on iPad

An example of a QR code on iPad

The secret code scanner in your iPhone

There's also a secret code scanner in your iPhone - did you know that? It's not an app, as such (well, it is, but you can't see it in your app library) but can be found using Spotlight.

It does the same thing as in the camera app, but just offers a larger viewfinder to play with.

All you need to do is swipe down from the home screen to open up the search bar at the top of your iPhone and type in 'Code Scanner' - or you can head to 'Settings', then to 'Control Center' and add 'Code Scanner' to your mix.

Now you can access it by just swiping down from the top right-hand side of your screen, and can get all scan-like whenever you fancy.

Wallet app can scan QR codes on iPhone and iPad

There's also a built-in QR reader in the Wallet app on iPhone and iPod. To access the scanner, open the app, click on the plus button at the top of the "Passes" section, then tap on Scan Code to Add a Pass. 

From here, you can scan QR codes for coupons, boarding passes, tickets, and loyalty cards, but only for the specific things that Wallet considers "passes." If you try to scan any other QR code, you'll get an error message. 

If you don't fancy either of the above two methods, you can also head to the App Store where you'll find a wide selection of free QR code reading applications.

John McCann

John joined TechRadar a decade ago as Staff Writer for Phones, and over the years has built up a vast knowledge of the tech industry. He's interviewed CEOs of some of the world's biggest tech firms, visited their HQs and has appeared on live TV and radio, including Sky News, BBC News, BBC World News, Al Jazeera, LBC and BBC Radio 4. Originally specializing in phones, tablets and wearables, John is now TechRadar's resident automotive expert, reviewing the latest and greatest EVs and PHEVs on the market. John also looks after the day-to-day running of the site.