How to scan QR codes on iPhone

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A Faster Way to Scan
Scan QR codes faster with these tips.
Image: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

You can scan and open a QR code directly from your iPhone camera or a picture — you don’t have to download a third-party app. Here are the three ways you can open them: inside the camera, using a shortcut in Control Center and directly from your photo library. 

If you’re in a restaurant and you want to open their digital menu, or you’re setting up two-factor authentication using a code, you don’t want to fiddle with installing an app. This functionality is built right into your phone.

Keep reading or watch our short video.

Scan a QR code on iPhone

Scanning a QR code from the Camera
Just tap the yellow button to open the link.
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

Time needed: 1 minute

Scan a QR code from the iPhone camera

  1. Open the Camera

    Swipe left on the Lock Screen to open the Camera; or while your phone is unlocked, open the Camera app.

  2. Point the camera at the QR code

    Make sure you’re holding the phone steady, the area is well-lit and you’re looking at it straight-on.

  3. Tap the yellow link at the bottom

    You should see a yellow button that you can tap to open the QR code.

The camera has other tricks up its sleeve — using Live Text, you can copy words out of the camera or even translate them into different languages.

Add a shortcut to Control Center

Adding the Code Scanner button to Control Center
The Code Scanner button in Control Center is much faster than the Camera.
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

For a nicer experience, you can add a QR code scanner to Control Center.

  1. Go to Settings > Control Center, scroll down and tap + Code Scanner. Drag to rearrange it in the list.
  2. From Control Center, tap the Scanner button to open the app.
  3. Unlike the camera, this app is optimized for scanning QR codes. Center the code within the square and it’ll open immediately — you don’t need to confirm by tapping a button. 

If you scan QR codes regularly, this is much faster than using the Camera app.

Scan QR code from a picture

Opening a QR code from a photo
Tap and hold to open a code from a photo.
Screenshot: D. Griffin Jones/Cult of Mac

What if you take a picture or a screenshot of a QR code — how do you scan it if it’s in your pictures? Do you need a second phone? No.

  1. Open the Photos app. You can tap on the Search tab and type in qr code to see all the codes in your photo library.
  2. From any photo with a QR code in it, just tap and hold on the code. You’ll see a pop-up menu.
  3. Tap Open in Safari for web links or Add Verification Code in Passwords for two-factor authentication setup codes. 

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