Internet, Networking, & Security Around the Web 48 48 people found this article helpful What Is a QR Code? By Liane Cassavoy Writer Liane Cassavoy is a former freelance contributor to Lifewire who has been reviewing and writing articles about smartphones since 1999. our editorial process Twitter LinkedIn Liane Cassavoy Updated December 05, 2019 vcandy / Getty Images Around the Web How to Get a VPN Tweet Share Email QR codes are two-dimensional barcodes that can be read by many cell phones and smartphones. The codes, which are small squares with black and white patterns, appear in a variety of places, such as magazine and newspaper ads. A QR code is used to encode some sort of information, such as text or a URL. What Does QR Mean? The "QR" in QR codes stands for "quick response," as the codes are designed to be read quickly. QR codes can be read by dedicated QR code readers and by some cell phones. To read a QR code, your cell phone will need a camera (so it can snap a picture of the code) and a QR code reader. You can find many free QR code readers in the various app stores for different phone platforms. Once your cell phone reads the code, the information that it stores is shared with you. You may be taken to a URL where you can watch a movie trailer, or you may be given details about the company you saw advertised. You may even be presented with a coupon for a local business. How to Use a QR Code If you own an Android-based smartphone or an iPhone and have kept your software up to date, you have a pre-loaded QR reader app. It's built into your phone's camera app! To use it, simply open your camera app, point it at the QR code, and watch your screen as a link will appear on your phone's screen. If you have an older phone or are using an older operating system you can download Scan's QR Code Reader, it's free, and is available on both, Android and iOS. Plus, it features an intuitive interface which is very easy to use.