Beginner's Guide to QR Code Readers

Barcodes have never been something that the average consumer interacts with very often, especially not the data inside of them. These were always outside of the realm of the customers interest, with serial codes and product codes embedded inside of them used by manufacturers and store clerks for tracking and pricing products. This impression of barcodes may lead many to be wary of QR codes - just how interesting can a barcode be? The answers, and how easy they are to use, may surprise you! If you're new to the world of QR codes, follow this step by step guide to get started.

Step One: Choose a QR Code Reader

The first order of business is to make sure you have a smart phone. Sadly, QR codes can only be read by smart phones with a camera. A QR code reader app uses the phone's camera to scan the QR code and decode the data inside of it. Searching for a QR code scanner can be overwhelming. Thousands of apps are available for popular platforms like Apple and Android. Luckily, they all work mostly the same. Try downloading one of the top results. If you're only looking to casually use QR codes then a free QR code reader app will work fine. Some may charge a small fee for use, but these scanners will often offer features that wouldn't be relevant to the casual user.

Step Two: Find a QR Code

Once downloading the QR code reader app, you have all the tools you need to start scanning QR codes. Finding a QR code to test it out on may seem difficult, but they're more prevalent than most people realize. Before understanding what QR codes are, many people overlook them as simple barcodes without even registering their existence or function. Instead they are simply disregarded as not useful. When you start looking for them, you may realize that they're everywhere! Try looking on store front signs, on coupons, in newspapers, magazines, even on the internet! But how does one recognize a QR code? QR codes are black square barcodes made up of pixel like dots. In the bottom left, top left and top right corners of these barcodes are black boxes. These boxes appear on every QR code - they must be there for the barcode to be scanned by a QR code reader app! If you see a black barcode that looks similar but without the boxes, chances are it's a different type of 2D barcode and won't work with a traditional QR code scanner.

Step Three: Scan the Barcode

When you find a QR code that you're curious about, navigate to the QR code reader app that you downloaded in step one. On your screen it should have a button to press or option to let you "Scan". Choose this option and then hold up the smart phone with the camera facing the QR code. At this point you will see your QR code reader scanning the QR code and analyzing the different elements of it. In a few moments, maybe even instantly depending on the code, the scan will stop and the data inside the QR code will be displayed. This could be a link, a photo or video, contact information, or even just a plain text message. Clicking on the item presented will perform an action, such as starting a phone call or launching a website. If your QR code scanner seems to endlessly analyze the QR code that means it can't decode the data. This could be a problem in the QR code itself, or mean something is distorting it for the scanner. Try holding the mobile phone directly straight above or in front of the QR code. Minimize glares and other distractions. Most often these items won't interfere, but for a touchy barcode this could sometimes become an issue. If the QR code reader still can't decode it, try moving onto another QR code.

That's it!

Getting started with QR codes really is a simple three-step process. QR codes, after all, are meant to provide a quick and easy way to provide digital media to users. Never before have barcodes been so interactive, or had such a wide target audience! Enjoy scanning the many QR codes your bound to find out in the world, and maybe even try your hand at creating your own!