4 Ways to Scan QR Codes on a Windows PC

Featured image courtesy Unsplash depicting scanning QR code on a Windows laptop.

Using a QR code can be a hassle if you’re browsing from your Windows PC. You must grab your phone, open the camera, scan the code, then share the URL with your computer to continue. Are you aware that there’s a quicker way to go about this? Scanning QR codes on a laptop with one of the recommended methods in this guide is relatively easy.

1. QR Scanning With Windows Camera

Windows Camera is a native app that can be used to scan QR codes via your laptop’s camera. It can scan a QR code printed on a piece of paper, product packaging, a smartphone, tablet or TV screen.

Open the Windows Camera app by pressing the Win button, and typing “Camera” to initiate a quick search. Click the gear-shaped icon in the upper-left corner to open Settings.

Click on the Related Settings drop-down menu, and enable the Try out new experimental features toggle. Close the app, and restart it.

Turning

On the right of your Camera app screen, Select the QR code scanning option to the right of your Camera app screen. (It looks like a bar code inside a circle.) Move the target QR code within the camera focus area. Scanning it will lead to an external website, landing page, email, or social media handle.

Using Windows Camera app to scan a QR code on a smartphone leading to a website.

Along with scanning QR codes on a laptop in Windows, you can also scan QR codes from an image on a mobile device.

2. Google Lens in a Chrome Browser

You can use the Google Chrome browser’s built-in Google Lens feature to scan any QR code on a browser page and get instant results about its contents. It’s one of the best ways to scan a QR code on your computer without a camera.

Right-click the QR code, and choose Search images with Google. You will be prompted to select an area to search with Lens. Drag your mouse or trackpad near the bar code, and select its outer borders.

Selecting the borders around the area of a QR code using Google Lens.

A Google Lens sidebar will display information related to the QR code you’ve just scanned. For instance, if the QR code is for a social media handle, Google Lens will display it with an option to navigate directly to it. Copy the URL or go directly to the website.

Google Lens results for a QR code displaying its URL and other details.

Tip: if you’re not a Chrome user, don’t worry. On Firefox, you can run the built-in QR code reader by tapping the search bar, then tap the scan icon again. You can also use the free Firefox Search on Google Lens add-on. The concept is the same: right-click the image, then select the option to search on Google Lens.

3. Browser-Based QR Code Scanner

4QRCode is a browser-based online tool for QR code scanning. Navigate to its home page, and tap on No file selected to upload a file from your computer. Select the image that contains a QR code that you have saved to your PC.

You will see the result next to the uploaded file, with an option to copy it.

Using 4QRcode to scan any uploaded QR code.

There are a few more browser-based applications, such as Web QR, Scan QR, and QR Stuff, that can easily scan QR codes. Either drag and drop a QR code, or use your webcam to scan the QR code on a smartphone or packaging.

4. Dedicated QR Scanner App

Another alternative is to download and install an app/software to your PC. Either download them from the Microsoft Store or use a third-party installer.

Microsoft Store Apps

There are several Microsoft Store apps that can perform QR code scanning. The Free QR Code Scanner is one of the best and easiest tools. It’s a simple app with only two options: use Camera to scan the image with your webcam, or tap on Image for file uploads.

Using Microsoft Store app Free QR Code Scanner.

Codex – QR Reader & Generator is one of the more popular paid apps on Microsoft’s app store. Apart from QR code scanning, it also generates QR codes in custom resolutions. If you want to diagnose the QR codes on an Amazon or Kindle device, try the QR Code Reader Free app.

Code Two QR Code Desktop Reader

CodeTwo QR Code Desktop Reader is a great choice among free, third-party QR scanner apps and doesn’t require an Internet connection. Launch the app to find four options to scan QR codes.

The From screen option selects a specific screen area to read any visible QR codes. The From webcam option is an alternative to the Windows Camera app, as it allows you to scan a QR code using your laptop’s camera.

There’s also a From File option that lets you scan a QR code from an image already saved to your PC. Finally, if you’ve copied a QR code image from anywhere, use the From clipboard option to paste it into the program instantly.

Code Two App to scan bar codes in Windows using multiple ways.

No matter which option you use, once the QR code is scanned, the results will appear in the QR code text box.

Tip: a slower Windows device can cause delays in activities like QR code scanning. Learn how to prevent background apps from causing interruptions.

Troubleshooting Tips for QR Code Scanning on a Laptop

As we may know by experience, a laptop isn’t ideally suited for scanning QR codes. It is heavier to move around, and the camera resolution often tops out at 720p, which leads to several kinds of QR code scanner problems. Read through these tips for each of these scenarios:

  • QR code is too big or small: if the QR code is displayed on a cutout or billboard, you may not be able to picture the entire image on a laptop screen. Likewise, if it’s too tiny, you may not be able to capture it on your laptop camera, as it doesn’t have a Zoom feature. It would be better to take a photo of the QR code and upload the file manually on a laptop.
  • QR code is blurry/not clear: move to well-lit surroundings. You also need sufficient nits of screen brightness on your laptop screen.
  • Missing or broken links: if the URL connected to the QR code is not working properly, it may lead to a 404 error. The URL itself will need to be corrected.

To test any of these methods of scanning QR codes on Windows, you should know how to create your own QR code. Since Google Chrome has a built-in QR code generator, using it is the simplest option: right-click any page or image and choose Create QR Code. Additionally, there are numerous online QR generators available.

Image credit: Unsplash. All screenshots by Sayak Boral.

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Sayak Boral

Sayak Boral is a technology writer with over eleven years of experience working in different industries including semiconductors, IoT, enterprise IT, telecommunications OSS/BSS, and network security. He has been writing for MakeTechEasier on a wide range of technical topics including Windows, Android, Internet, Hardware Guides, Browsers, Software Tools, and Product Reviews.

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