QR codes: what are they and how do you use them?

You may have noticed that a large square has appeared on the SSW news and events newsletters recently with the words ‘Scan Me’ next to it. 

This square is known as a QR Code (Quick Response Code for those that do a crossword or pub quiz) and you may have noticed them around town, on Covid 19 testing materials and in other similar communications.  

A QR Code is a more advanced version of a barcode, usually found in the retail industry. Its key advantage is that it can store more characters, which is perfect for presenting website links.  For example, if I wanted to inform you of a specific page within a website in a printed document such as the SSW Newsletter then it traditionally might look like this:


The above link is not very easy to copy, so instead we use a QR Code which looks like this:

a QR code


So how do we scan a QR Code?  

Your smartphone or tablet will come with the ability to scan QR Codes but, as always, there are some slight differences between iPhone and Android procedures, which are explained below.

Android Phone/Tablet users

An Android device will make use of an app called Google Lens.  This app integrates with your phone/tablet in a couple of places depending on how recently your phone was updated. 

Look for the below icon when you open your camera app and using the QR code above, move it into position.  

the Google Lens icon


The app will pick up the website link instantly and will open the website when the shutter button is pressed. 

Google Lens is also often found on your home screen search bar and shows as a camera icon, as shown below:

graphic of the Google search page, with two icons to the right of it, inclusing one that is of a camera. There is a red arrow pointing to this camera iconiPhone/iPad users

Simply open your Apple camera app and point it towards the QR Code and you will be given a link to click on.  

Practice QR Code

Try this one to see how it works:

a QR code

It will take you to this URL: https://hadley.edu/workshops/outlook-low-vision-series


If you’re keen to get your head around QR Codes but need a bit more help, come and speak to one of our tech advisors. They’re also on hand to help with any other tech issues you might have. Contact the Centre on 01903 235782.