How to Scan QR Codes on iPhone + Best Free QR Code Reader Apps

QR codes are used for multiple different purposes. You’ve probably seen one in a magazine ad telling you to scan the code with your iPhone for more information, extra discounts, or other perks. While QR codes can be seen all-over, the Camera app on iPhone doesn’t have a built-in QR scanner. Which means, if you want to figure out how to scan a QR code with your iPhone, you’ll need an app dedicated to scanning QR codes. There are a lot of apps that make it easy to scan with your iPhone, but I’ll go through my picks for the best QR code reader apps on iPhone, as well as how to scan QR codes on your iPhone.

Related: Who Accepts Apple Pay? A List of Stores + How to Find Apple Pay Locations Nearby

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In short, you scan QR codes using your iPhone much like you would scan a barcode. Regardless of what QR code scanner app for iPhone you use, the app will use your iPhone’s camera to view the QR code, scan the QR code, and then your iPhone will bring up whatever the QR code is meant to point to, which is usually a web page. A lot of people ask, “how do I scan a QR code with my iPhone?” It took me awhile to figure it out, simply because it seemed like something my iPhone would be able to do without a specific app for scanning QR codes. But alas, that is not the case. First, I want to give you my best QR code reader apps for iPhone. That way you can select the one that’s right for you. Then, using my favorite of the apps, I’ll show you step-by-step how to scan a QR code on your iPhone.

*Need an iPhone scanning app for turning paper into PDFs and other files? Check out Evernote’s free app, Scannable

Best QR Code Reader Apps for iPhone

In general, most QR apps will work just fine. This isn’t one of those instances wherein it’s really important you find the best app to do the job. Just about any free QR scanning app you like will do. Below are a few of my favorites to make it easy to select one.

QR Scanner - QR Code Reader and Barcode Scanner

QR Code Reader and Barcode Scanner

QR Code Reader by Scan

None of the free QR code reader apps for iPhone are perfect. Now and again, you may need to close an app completely and restart the app to get it to work. Or, it may work wonderfully for you, and you might never have an issue with your QR scanner app. Personally, I use my QR code scanning app on iPhone seldomly, which means I’ve never had an issue with any QR code reading app working for me. You can also download a QR scanner app on iPad, if that’s the device you find yourself needing a QR scanner on.

How to Scan QR Codes with iPhone

Most of your QR scanners on iPhone are basically the same: when you open the app, it’s automatically ready to scan the QR code. But, for our example, I’m going to use the first app (QR Scanner - QR Code Reader and Barcode Scanner) of the three I recommended above. Here’s how to scan QR codes with iPhone:

  • Open the QR scanner app of your choice.

  • If it’s the first time you’re opening the app, you’ll need to grant the app permission to use your Camera. Tap Ok.

  • A square frame at the center of your screen will show you where you need to align the QR code to scan it.

  • When it works, the app will present you with the information contained in the QR code. If it's a link to a webpage, it may open automatically (depending on the app you're using). 

That’s really all there is to it. One of the things I love about the app I’m using for this example is the History tab that shows you past QR scans, allowing you to re-access them without needing to scan the code again. This app also allows you to create a QR code of various different types, including a QR code that points to a webpage, a QR code that reveals a photo, plain text, social media handle, etc. The list goes on. 

Top image credit: Africa Studio /

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Conner Carey holds a bachelor's in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing and resides in Fairfield, Iowa. When she's not writing, you can find her singing jazz or lifting weights. Her personal blog is currently under construction, but you can follow her on Instagram @connerleecarey.