How to Scan With a Smartphone

by Aubrey Kerr

You've seen those square images that look like static on an old television. They're printed all over advertisements, marketing materials and even billboards. These puzzling graphics are QR, or quick-response, codes. Scan them with your smartphone and they'll take you to a website or display contact information. But you can't just take a photo of a QR code; you need to download and install a QR scanning app that can interpret the angular squiggles. Launch the app, then scan with your smartphone and view all the coded information with the touch of a button.

Visit the app store for your device. iPhone users tap the App Store icon on the home screen. Android users touch the Android Market icon or go to Android Apps on Google Play. BlackBerry users select the BlackBerry App World icon.

Choose and install a QR reader. Some readers also scan bar codes, so read the features list before you choose which app to install. Use the search feature or browse Utilities. RedLaser, i-nigma and QR Code Scanner Pro are three of the many QR apps available. Whichever app you choose, they're used in basically the same way.

Tap the QR app icon to launch the program. The phone's camera turns on and you see a square scan box near the middle of the screen.

Place your phone's camera over the QR code until the code is centered inside the scan box.

Touch the scan button and wait for a beep. The QR scan app automatically opens the website or displays the contact information encoded in the QR code.

About the Author

Aubrey Kerr is a writer and photographer. With a B.A. in media arts and public relations, she has helped small business owners design and implement online marketing campaigns since 2004. Her work appears on several websites including and the Houston Chronicle.

Photo Credits

  • Marianna Massey/Getty Images News/Getty Images