QR (Quick Response) codes are found in many places, such as advertisements, billboards, business windows, and on products. But you don’t necessarily need a separate app to scan them—if you use Google Chrome on your iPhone, it has a QR code scanner built-in.

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QR codes were first developed in 1994 to help track parts in the manufacturing of vehicles. Since then, uses of QR codes have expanded to include bookmarking webpages, initiating phone calls, sending short messages and emails, connecting to Wi-Fi networks, getting coupons, viewing videos, and opening website URLs, just to name a few.

There are many apps, both free and paid, available on mobile devices for scanning QR codes. But Chrome users don’t need to download another app—just use Chrome’s built-in scanner.

NOTE: You must be running Chrome version 56.0.2924.79, so be sure to update Chrome, if you haven’t already.

The option to scan a QR code has been added to Chrome as a 3D shortcut. So, if you have a phone with 3D touch (iPhone 6S and newer), hard press on the Chrome icon on your Home screen until a menu pops up. Tap “Scan QR Code” on that menu.

If you have an older iPhone (iPhone 6 and earlier) without the 3D Touch feature, you can use Chrome’s Spotlight action to scan a QR code.

To do this, swipe right on the main Home screen to access the Spotlight search screen. Tap on the search box at the top of the screen and type “QR Code” in box. Results display as you type. Scroll down to find the “Scan QR Code” item under Chrome and tap on it.

The first time you use Chrome’s QR code scanner, Chrome asks permission to access your camera. Tap “OK” to allow Chrome to use your camera.

A frame with white corners displays. Aim your phone’s camera at the QR code so the code is within the frame.

RELATED: How to Choose Your Default Applications on an iPhone or iPad

The QR code is automatically read. In our example, the QR code is the URL for How-To Geek, so the website automatically opens in the default web browser, Safari. (If you prefer to use Chrome, you can add a bookmarklet to Safari that will open the current webpage in Chrome.)

Scanning QR codes with Chrome on iOS is only available on iPhones, not iPads.

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Lori Kaufman is a technology expert with 25 years of experience. She's been a senior technical writer, worked as a programmer, and has even run her own multi-location business.
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