How to Scan a Barcode on an iPhone

It's more complicated than scanning QR codes

What to Know

  • To scan a barcode with your iPhone, you’ll need to download an iOS barcode scanner app.
  • There are a large number of paid and free iPhone barcode scanner apps available.
  • Once installed, open the barcode scanner app, click the scan button, and place the barcode in view of your iPhone’s camera.

This article will walk you through the steps for how to use your iPhone smartphone to scan a regular barcode. While focusing primarily on traditional, or 1D, barcodes, this guide also contains some additional information on how to scan a QR code with your iPhone and what you need to do to scan documents for editing and sharing.

The following instructions for scanning a barcode with an iPhone apply to iPhones running iOS 9.0 and up.

How Do You Scan a Barcode?

To scan a barcode on your iPhone or iPad, you’ll need to first download a barcode scanner iOS app. There are many iPhone barcode apps available for download from the Apple App Store but, for this example, we’ll use QR Code Reader - Barcode Maker. This app is easy to use, supports all major barcode formats, and is free. This app can also be used to make your own barcodes.

  1. Open the QR Code Reader - Barcode Maker app on your iPhone and tap the large circular barcode icon in the center of the screen.

  2. The app will ask for permission to use your iPhone’s camera. Tap OK.

    The app will only ask for permission the first time you use it.

  3. Position the barcode you want to scan in view of the camera.

    Barcode on a SeaQuest DSV Blu-ray box being scanned by an iPhone app.
  4. Your iPhone should scan the barcode automatically and display its data. This could be a series of numbers, some text, or maybe even a website address.

  5. To view more information about the barcode’s data, tap the Search icon.

    Barcode being scanned by an iPhone app with details being shown in a Google search result.

How Do I Scan a Barcode on My iPhone for Free?

While there are many paid iPhone apps for scanning barcodes, there’s also a large number of apps that are either completely free or offer some in-app purchases for additional functionality.

The QR Code Reader app used in the above instructions is a good free option for general barcode scanning. Other popular iPhone apps which feature free barcode scanning functionality include ShopSavvy for shopping deals, Fitbit for logging food and drinks, and Good Reads for tracking physical books your own or have read.

How Do I Scan a QR Code on My iPhone?

You don’t need to download any additional apps to scan a QR code on your iPhone or iPad as the native iOS Camera app has this functionality built-in. To use your iPhone to scan a QR code, all you need to do is open the Camera app and aim your device at the code.

You don’t need to take a photo of the QR code. The code being seen by the Camera app is enough to trigger an automatic scan.

How Do I Scan With My iPhone?

In addition to scanning barcodes, your iPhone can also be used to scan documents. The easiest way to scan a document with your iPhone is to use the Notes app though there are also a variety of third-party iOS scanner apps which provide a number of additional features such as faxing and advanced image and text editing.

  • How do I scan a barcode on an Android phone?

    As with iPhones, scanning a barcode with an Android device requires a third-party app. Go to the Google Play Store and perform a search using the term "barcode scanner." Download, install, and open the app you choose. To scan a barcode, hold it up to the app's reader box. Based on what you scanned, the app will offer you several options, such as going directly to a website or starting a Google search.

  • How do I scan a barcode to find out where something was purchased?

    There may be times when you want to track down where something was purchased, such as when you want to return a gift. Usually, an item's barcode won't offer this information. Most barcodes are UPC codes, which identify only the product and company. Some companies, however, may make a barcode specific to a store or area. The only way to see what information is available is to scan the code.

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