How to make a QR code: 5 ways to generate QR codes

Image: Andy Wolber/TechRepublic

QR codes let people access information with a smartphone; instead of typing a URL, you point your smartphone camera at a QR barcode and tap to scan. The QR code offers a link to all sorts of information and actions, including web pages, presentations, Wi-Fi access codes, business cards and information (hours, locations) and social media sites. There are two different types of QR codes: Ones that link to one set location on the web (known as a static QR code) and one’s that send customers to an updatable web location (known as a dynamic QR code). On an iPhone, Apple’s camera app includes QR code scan support. On an Android device, both Google Assistant — with the words “scan QR code” — and the Google Camera app, with Google Lens mode, let you point your camera at a QR code then tap to scan and search.

The use of QR codes for marketing and to access online menus, especially, proliferated during COVID-19 efforts to minimize physical contact points. Many sales systems, such as Addmi, OpenTable, Shopify and Square, let business owners generate multiple QR codes for customers.

You don’t need a point of sales system to create QR codes. The following five methods offer reliable ways to create QR codes to provide contactless access and marketing to web pages and other information.

SEE: Top 5 tips for QR code safety (TechRepublic)

How to create QR codes with Chrome

Google’s Chrome browser includes a free QR code generator for web pages (Figure A).

Figure A

Create a QR code link to web resources in the Chrome and Chrome OS browser.

The feature is built into the Share system in Chrome on both Android and iOS. However, you may need to enable the free QR code generator feature in Chrome on desktop and Chrome OS systems.

Note: Different versions of Chrome provide different QR code displays. Currently, Chrome on Android and desktop versions display the QR code with a dinosaur in the middle, while Chrome on iOS provides a standard QR code that lacks the dinosaur logo.

In Chrome on Android, browse as usual to a web page, tap the three-dot menu | Share… | QR Code, then optionally tap Download to save the code to your system for later use (Figure B).

Figure B

On Android, tap the three-dot menu, Share, then QR Code to generate a code for a page.

In Chrome on iOS, similarly browse as normal to a web page, tap the Share symbol, then scroll down a bit in the displayed options and tap Create A QR Code (Figure C). On iOS, you’ll need to then tap Share | Save Image (or, alternatively, Save To Files) to preserve the code to scan and use later.

Figure C

Tap the share glyph, then Create A QR Code within Chrome on iOS to generate a QR code.

In Chrome on desktop systems and Chrome OS, you may need to enable the free QR code generator option. To do this, type chrome://flags in the omnibox, then press Enter. Enter “QR code” in the search box that displays, and then adjust the setting to Enabled (Figure D). Restart, as prompted.

Figure D

In Chrome on computers, you may need to enable the QR Code feature (on chrome://flags) before use.

Once QR codes are enabled, when you click or tap in the omnibox, the QR code icon displays on the right side of the box, next to the bookmarking star. Select it to display a QR code for the page, and then select Download to save the image.

How to create QR codes with QRbot

QRbot lets you create codes that link to a web page, as well as codes that encourage other actions, such as adding a contact, connecting to Wi-Fi, sending an email or SMS or making a call (Figure E). Go to the QRbot QR Generator, select an action, add any necessary details, then download your custom QR code. The web-based version is free. The developer, TeaCapps, offers free Android and iOS apps on their app stores, as well as upgraded pro options for both platforms (for $4.99 and $5.99, respectively) that remove ads and provide access to extra features. Additionally, the upgrade on iOS lets you change the QR code design, giving users the ability to adjust colors, add a custom logo and select from more themes.

Figure E

QRbot, with web, Android and iOS apps, lets you create QR codes for a variety of links and actions.

How to create QR codes with Barcode Generator

In addition to the methods above, people who use Windows also might consider installing the free Barcode Generator app by Vevy Europe—S.P.A. from the Microsoft Store. As with Chrome and QRbot, the QR Barcode Generator provides several pre-built action options to create QR codes for email, Twitter, Facebook, SMS, Wi-Fi, Flickr and YouTube, among others (Figure F). Select an action, enter your data, then save the generated image.

Figure F

On Windows, Barcode Generator lets you select from twelve different QR code link types, enter the necessary data and then save the resulting code.

How to create QR codes with iQR codes

On macOS, iQR codes – QR Code Art Studio provides fast, fill-in-the-blank creation of QR codes for phone numbers, SMS, email, locations, web links, contact info, calendar events, Wi-Fi access and more (Figure G). This $14.99 app also lets you make more adjustments to the display of the QR code than any of the above options. These tweaks include pixel styles, corner and resolution sliders, foreground and background colors, as well as customizations of the corner control points. The app also provides a built-in tool that assesses the readability of your QR code along with tips to help ensure reliability when your potential customers use their QR code readers.

Figure G

On macOS, iQR codes – QR Code Art Studio offers several preset options, along with the ability to significantly customize the appearance of the generated QR codes.

How to access QR codes in social media apps

If you consistently post on social media sites, a QR code can make it easy for people to access your social media accounts. While you can create a QR code that links to a public web page for any of your social media accounts with the above apps, some social media services build access to QR codes right into their apps. For example, LinkedIn and Twitter both provide QR codes within their iOS and Android apps, respectively (Figure H). You might post this QR code along with the site’s logo on signage.

Figure H

Social media apps, such as Twitter, often include access to a QR code for your account within the mobile apps.

How do you use QR codes?

Do you use QR codes at your organization? If so, what types of information do you link to for your customers (menus, social media marketing, Wi-Fi sign-in)? What systems or apps do you use to create QR codes? Let me know how you use QR codes, either in the comments below or on Twitter (@awolber).

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