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How to scan a QR code on Android

QR codes are the easiest way to share digital information in the real world. QR code readers can direct you to a website, show a Wi-Fi password, log you in to a user account, transfer contacts and files, and lots more.

To use a QR code, you have to know how to scan it. On iOS, the stock Camera app can scan QR codes, but the same doesn’t hold true for Android phones (at least not all of them). Keep reading to learn how to scan QR codes on your Android device.

How to scan QR codes on Android

How this works really depends on your Android version. If you have a new phone, this first set of instructions will work for you. Otherwise, you’ll need to follow different directions; but no worries, scanning a QR code is still very doable (and free) from any Android device.

Android 9.0+

Modern versions of Android make it so easy to scan a QR code. It’s intuitive because it works directly from the Android Camera app.

  • Open the Camera app. The shortcut might be on your Home screen, but if not, search your phone for it.
  • Switch to Photo if you’re currently in video mode. Some phones might call this mode Camera.
  • Point the camera at the QR code, but don’t take a picture. You should see a preview of the code’s contents.
  • Tap the link to trigger whatever it is the QR code does. For example, if it’s a website URL, it will launch the site in your web browser.

Scanning a QR code from a Google Pixel phone

Tip: If these steps don’t work for you, update your device to at least Android 9 (released in 2018). See Google’s guide to updating Android for help. The update option is in the Settings app.

Older Android versions

If your device is running Android 7.0 or older, there are a few ways you can read QR codes, depending on your specific version.

  1. Activate Google Assistant either by pressing the dedicated key, holding down the Home button, or opening the app from the app drawer.
  2. Tap the lens button. Grant the app access to your camera if it asks.
  3. Point your camera at the QR code and take a photo.
  4. Tap the information that you want to use, e.g., a URL address that will open in your default browser.

Another way to understand the QR code is to download a free QR code scanning app. One we’ll look at here is called QR & Barcode Scanner. It has ads, but they’re not very intrusive.

  1. Download QR & Barcode Scanner from the Google Play Store.
  2. Open the app and grant it permission to access your camera and photos.
  3. Point the camera at the QR code you want to scan.
  4. The app will scan the code and display the information it has found.

The QR and Barcode Scanner Android app

What are QR codes used for?

A QR code can be used for lots of things:

  • Share long, hard-to-remember or difficult-to-type URLs.
  • View restaurant menus.
  • Share contact information.
  • Send files.
  • Transfer login credentials between devices.
  • Verify a ticket purchase.
  • Join a Wi-Fi network.

QR stands for quick response. They’re like barcodes and can be scanned in much the same way as the black and white codes you see on products in a store. The purpose is to tie specific information to the code so that when it’s scanned, that information is lifted out.

It might look like QR codes are all the same. That’s because they do, in fact, appear that way upon first glance. But upon closer inspection, you’ll notice the patterns are actually slightly different. These patterns are what set them apart.

QR code example

Below is an example of a QR code. Using the directions you learned above, give it a quick scan to see what’s hiding inside!

Qr Code


QR codes can be found in all sorts of places, and they’re a great way to provide quick information. Scanning QR codes is basic, much like making a phone call or being able to send a text message. For users with newer Android versions, this tool is provided out of the box, but it’s obvious it took Google a few years to realize it should add a stock option for scanning codes. Another neat way to use your Android is for extracting text from images with an OCR app.

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