How Do QR Codes Work? We've Got All Your Questions Covered

Update:  June 25, 2024
How Do QR Codes Work? We've Got All Your Questions Covered

The rapid rise of QR code use worldwide has led to the influx of QR code generator platforms online. With this software, anyone can create a QR code for various purposes.

And according to recent statistics, QR codes will only become more prominent in the coming years.

In fact, last year alone, they posted a 443% year-on-year growth in usage.

Despite their popularity, some people still don’t know a thing about QR codes: what is a QR code, how are QR codes made, how they work, and what to do with them.

If you’re one of those, look no further.

This beginner’s ultimate guide will cover everything you need to know about creating QR codes and understanding their underlying mechanics.

And since choosing a high-quality QR code software is crucial, you’ll also learn what to look for when selecting one.

How do QR codes work

Before we dive in, what is a QR code? And what does QR stand for?

QR stands for "Quick Response."

These codes are two-dimensional barcodes that can store a wide range of information, including text, URLs, contact information, images, and videos. 

It is created using a QR code generator online, and they are excellent digital marketing software for advertising and information-sharing.

One contributing factor is their ability to store more data than traditional barcodes. 

A QR code can store information horizontally and vertically in a series of black-and-white squares or modules arranged in a pattern. 

Each module in the QR code’s pattern represents a bit of the embedded data, which you can then decode by scanning with a smartphone equipped with QR scanning features.

Users can then add QR codes to their promotional materials or product packaging, allowing them to encode more information without occupying too much space.

You can use an online QR code platform to embed data into a QR code. Once you have your code, you can print it or display it digitally for others to scan. 

A brief history of QR codes

Masahiro Hara first invented the QR code in 1994 while working for the Japanese company Denso Wave.

The company was looking for a way to track spare parts during manufacturing, and QR codes provided a solution for storing more information than traditional barcodes.

Initially, QR codes were used mainly in industrial applications in Japan, such as inventory management and logistics. 

However, they soon became famous for advertising and marketing as they could store more information than traditional barcodes and were easily scannable using a smartphone.

Today, using QR code software is how QR codes are generated easily. These platforms allow users to choose different QR code solutions and offer customization options. 

As smartphones became more common in the early 2000s, QR codes gained popularity in the United States and parts of Europe. 

Marketers also started using QR codes in their advertising campaigns to direct consumers to product information or special offers.

QR codes have become even more prevalent recently. Restaurants have replaced printed menus with QR codes to comply with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines for a safe opening during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Industries now use QR code technology in various ways. QR codes can help people keep up with the fast pace of life by taking them instantly to important data.

They are also a valuable tool that lets businesses give customers easy access to information and promotions. 

With the increasing use of smartphones and the growing need for touchless solutions, QR codes will likely become even more valuable in the coming years.

How are QR codes made or generated?

QR codes are generated using a QR code builder or QR code software like QR TIGER.

With QR TIGER, it's easy to create your own QR codes. It's an intuitive software built for all businesses and even beginners.

Here's how you can generate a QR code of your own:

1. Search for QR TIGER online and select a specific QR code solution.

2. Enter the data you want to store in your QR and choose between Static or Dynamic QR.

3. Generate the QR code and customize the design. You can add an image as a logo.

4. Run a quick scan test and click Download to save it.

Two types of QR codes: static and dynamic

There are two main types of QR codes: static and dynamic. Each has its own benefits and use cases. Understanding their differences can help you choose the right one for your needs.

Static QR codes

Static QR codes embed your data directly in their pattern, which makes them permanent. It means that users can’t change the information in the code after generating it.

Also, you’d have to consider your data size, as this would affect the number of modules on your QR code pattern. Bigger data means more congested patterns, which often take time to scan.

It’s best for applications where the information encoded won’t require constant updates, such as URLs and product serial numbers.

Dynamic QR codes

QR codes in dynamic mode are more advanced compared to static ones.

These QR codes store a short URL instead of the actual data, which allows you to change your data anytime without creating a new QR code.

This unique feature also keeps the QR code’s pattern minimal and organized while allowing larger data sizes.

It’s also why dynamic QR codes can store more data types, including documents, audio files, and videos.

Here’s how it works: The QR code software stores your data on the short URL’s landing page. Upon scanning, users will be redirected to the page, and they can view and download the file.

Additionally, advanced tracking features are available, allowing users to monitor the performance of their codes and make adjustments as needed.

They have these other features:

  • Software integration through API key
  • Password protection
  • Email notifications
  • Retargeting
  • Expiry

Related: Static vs Dynamic QR Code: Their Pros and Cons

How to use different QR code types

QR codes are becoming increasingly popular in today’s digital age. They offer a quick and easy way to access information using only a smartphone. 

However, different QR code solutions have unique features and use cases. Here are 10 QR code types and how each one works: 

1. URL QR codes

Brands can use URL QR codes to promote and drive traffic to their website. This type of QR code is common in marketing and advertising campaigns. 

Marketers can use any link from any browser, like Google or Bing.

They can quickly generate a Bing QR code or their preferred browser, enabling customers to access the website without manually typing the URL. 

2. Video QR code

Sending videos can be a hassle due to their file sizes. Share them with a QR code instead.

A video QR code can embed a link to YouTube videos or those stored on Google Drive.

It can also store video files having a max size of 20 megabytes—and users can download the video too.

With this unique solution, people can quickly access videos in just one smartphone scan; no need to search online or wait until they receive the video.

3. Link in the bio QR code for social media

The link in the bio QR code is a helpful tool for getting more followers and subscribers across different social platforms. This dynamic solution can store multiple social links.

It directs scanners to a landing page with buttons that take them to the corresponding social platform. From there, they may follow the page, like posts, and become a customer in the future.

4. Email QR codes

With 319.6 billion emails sent and received daily in 2021, it is evident that the email ecosystem is flourishing and thriving.

Business owners and marketers can use email QR codes as a faster and more convenient way to reach them. Customers can inquire or leave feedback through email in one scan.

This QR code will be handy for product packaging or business cards.

5. WiFi QR codes

This QR code type provides convenience for connecting to WiFi networks. With one scan, they can instantly join the network; no need to search for it and enter its password.

The WiFi QR code is handy in establishments that offer WiFi as an amenity, such as restaurants, hotels, and cafes.

6. File QR codes

A file QR code works best in settings where users need to share files, such as workplaces and schools.

It’s a convenient way to distribute digital files like PDFs or images since anyone can access and save them in one scan.

For example, a company may create a file QR code for a product brochure or presentation to share with potential customers.

It lets customers easily access the necessary information without searching for it on the company’s website or requesting it through email.

And on top of that, you can also add a password so that only authorized users can access the embedded file.

7. QR codes for mobile applications

Developers can quickly direct users to download a mobile app from the app store using a QR code.

Using an app store QR code can be an effective way to drive app downloads, as it eliminates the need for users to search for the app in the store manually.

It can also guarantee that users will find and download the right app since app stores often display multiple results that can be confusing.

Brands can use app store QR codes in various marketing and advertising materials such as posters, flyers, and social media posts.

And since app store QR codes are dynamic, companies can track their data, such as the total number of scans. This metric can help them assess the efficiency of their app QR code campaign.

8. Multi URL QR codes

The Multi URL QR code is unique due to its ability to store multiple links in one QR code, which then allows it to redirect users to different pages depending on these parameters:

  • Language

This option requires a default landing page set in a specific language.

Upon scanning, the QR code will detect the device’s language and redirect the user to a version of the default page translated into that language. For instance, a user with a smartphone set in Spanish will find a landing page in Spanish.

But if no link in the code matches the device’s language, the user will redirect to the default landing page instead.

This is valuable for companies with audiences from different parts of the globe.

  • Time

This feature redirects users to a different landing page based on when they scanned the code. It allows setting a time limit for the QR code’s target page, which can be helpful for time-sensitive promotions or events. 

For example, a restaurant can create a menu QR code that changes depending on the time of the day. 

They can set the breakfast menu to expire at 11 am and offer lunch dishes after, ensuring that the offer is only available for a limited time.

This reduces the need for manually removing items on the menu board or the hassle of explaining to customers that you no longer serve the item beyond certain hours.

  • Number of scans 

With this setting, your QR code will change its landing page after it reaches a specific number of scans.

Here’s an example: Online stores can use the number of scans feature to distribute discount vouchers based on the scanning order. 

The first ten scanners can receive a 15% discount, while the 15th to 30th scanners can receive a 10% discount, and so on. 

Offering higher discounts to the first scanners can encourage users to scan the QR code immediately, creating a sense of urgency for the promotion.

  • Location

Multi URL QR codes can also link to different landing pages depending on the user’s location. 

For example, a fast food chain can generate a QR code that redirects to a landing page that guides users to their store location, depending on the country or region the user is in.

It can create a customized experience for each user, and it’s also a powerful way to engage with your audience and tailor your marketing efforts to specific regions or demographics.

Related: Multi URL QR Code: Embed Multiple Links in One QR Code

9. Landing page QR code

A landing page QR code or the H5 QR code lets you create a custom landing page that users can access with just one scan.

This solution lets you have a webpage without buying a domain host.

They are also particularly effective for smartphone users because they are optimized for mobile use and can provide seamless access on different devices. 

Event organizers can use this advantage to provide attendees with a unique and engaging experience. 

They can create a landing page QR code that directs users to an interactive landing page for a scavenger hunt, where visitors can explore the venue and connect with the brand in a new way.

10. QR codes for business cards

You can streamline contact information sharing using a vCard QR code solution.

This digital file format lets users conveniently share their contact information with clients and prospects.

This dynamic QR code is particularly handy in networking situations.

You won’t have to print and hand out business cards; grab your phone and show them your QR code.

In addition to saving time, vCard QR codes also eliminate the need for manual data entry, which reduces errors. 

They can also help create a more professional and tech-savvy image for your brand and make it easier for potential customers to contact you.

Moreover, you can easily update your contact details to ensure that your contacts always have access to the most up-to-date information.

How do payment QR codes work?

Cashless transactions through QR codes are widely popular in China and Japan.

This type of QR code promotes contactless transactions between the buyer and the seller.

With this payment method, establishments can follow health and safety protocols.

Here are three 3 ways payment with QR codes works:

1. Scan the customer’s QR code

Customers can present a QR code for payment by holding their phone to the merchant’s device or POS scanner. 

The POS or mobile device will scan the QR code containing the payment information and verifies the transaction details.

It’s an easier way for businesses to process payments quickly and securely.

2. Scan the merchant’s QR code

Business owners can generate a QR code for payment and display it at their POS, counter, or website, allowing customers to scan the QR code and make payments directly from their smartphones. 

This method is popular in movies and ads for stores that accept cashless payments with QR codes.

The process is effective when the checkout counter’s POS system determines the purchased quantity. 

Another example would be a vending machine QR code payment feature.

After identifying the total amount, the machine will prompt a QR code that will connect to your digital wallet so you can complete the purchase.

3. App-based payment

Payments made using online payment apps or platforms like Alipay or PayPal use QR codes for faster, more streamlined payments.

When the customer is ready to purchase, they open the app and generate their unique QR code containing the payment information linked to their account.

The merchant scans the code using a mobile device, a QR reader, or a POS scanner, and the payment is processed securely and instantly. 

One advantage of app-based payment QR codes is that they can be linked to loyalty programs and rewards, allowing businesses to offer personalized discounts and promotions to their customers. 

Additionally, app-to-app payments are often more secure as they require biometric authentication or a PIN to authorize transactions. 

How to generate QR codes?

  • Open a reliable QR code generator like QR TIGER.
  • Select the category you want to generate and enter its required data.
  • Choose between static or dynamic QR codes, then generate your QR code.
  • Customize your QR code by selecting a set of patterns, eyes, and colors, and add a logo and tag for better user recognition.
  • Test your QR code first, then download it once you see no issues.

How to use QR codes effectively for marketing? Here are things to remember: 

Use dynamic QR codes

If you want to take your marketing efforts to the next level, use QR codes in dynamic mode.

Unlike static QR codes that contain fixed information, you can update dynamic QR codes in real-time, making them an incredibly versatile and effective marketing tool. 

Their tracking capacities can help with analyzing user engagement.

Brands can gain insights into how customers interact with their marketing materials and optimize future campaigns to better resonate with target audiences. 

Customize your QR codes

When it comes to using QR codes for marketing, customization is key.

You can increase their visibility and potential engagement by tailoring your QR codes to your brand and message. 

Selecting a suitable color scheme is vital to customizing your QR codes.

While it may be tempting to use a bold or contrasting color scheme, you must remember that colors can affect the readability of the code when misused.

Using very light colors for the pattern and foreground makes the QR code harder to scan, as users might need to find the right lighting conditions.

Additionally, it’s essential not to invert the colors, as this can also affect the code’s readability. 

Another way to customize your QR code is by adding your company or brand logo or branding elements. Incorporating your logo can enhance its visual appeal and make it more recognizable to customers. 

It can increase brand awareness and make customers more likely to engage with your code. 

Always use a call to action

Adding a call to action (CTA) to your QR code can encourage, intrigue, and lead users to scan it.

Most people overlook this tiny detail, but this can lead to more engagement from scanners.

When making a call to action, ensure it’s relevant to your QR code’s purpose or destination page.

You can have “Scan to pay” as a CTA if it’s a QR code for contactless payments.

Choose the correct QR code size

It’s essential to consider the size of your QR code so that your target audiences can notice and find it quickly. They wouldn’t scan the code if they couldn’t even see it in the first place.

It should be big enough for scanners to see but not too big to occupy much space on your print ad.

Make sure the QR code is at least 1.2 inches (3-4 cm) in dimension for people to be able to scan it.

It’s best to use the SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) format when printing QR codes because you can resize them without losing their resolution. 

You can scale QR codes in SVG format up or down as needed without compromising their quality and readability. 

Ensuring the QR code is easily visible and scannable is a must.

Additionally, always remember to run a test scan before publishing or printing the QR code to ensure it works and is easy to scan. 

Find the right spot for your QR codes

It’s best to ensure that your QR codes are in a prominent and easily accessible location to maximize their effectiveness in your digital or printed promotional materials.

For instance, magazine editors should not put a QR code on a magazine in the middle of two pages, which can be challenging to access.

Proper placement of QR codes is equally essential for QR code posters.

For optimal visibility, they should be at eye level, where they are more likely to catch the attention of potential customers.

Apart from the placement, ensuring that the QR code is easy to scan is also crucial.

The QR code’s size, color, and background can affect its scannability. 

If the code is too small, it may not be scannable, while if too large may appear distorted. 

What qualities should you look for in a QR code generator?

Now that we have identified the evident uses of QR codes today, we can generate a QR code. 

Before revealing the steps to generate a QR code, here are seven things you should consider in choosing the best QR code software online:

1. Smooth interface 

A QR code platform with a sleek and simple interface is essential for an efficient workflow. It’s useless to go for a QR code generator that’s complicated to use. 

The interface should be user-friendly and easy to navigate.

It will ensure that users can create QR codes quickly and efficiently.

2. Credibility

Go for a QR code generator that you can trust.

The software must have security compliances and should have SSL.

These features will ensure that your data is secure and protected from hackers. You don’t want to use a QR code generator vulnerable to cyber-attacks and data breaches.

3. Multiple QR code options 

A reliable QR code maker should offer various QR code solutions.

It should be able to generate multiple types of QR codes so users can create QR codes tailored to their different needs (or all of them).

4. Customization 

Users should also consider the customization tools that the QR code software offers. 

The ability to customize QR codes with different colors, patterns, and logos will allow users to create unique QR codes for their brand.

It will also help to increase brand recognition and awareness.

5. Integrations

A reliable QR code platform should be able to integrate with other software and applications to allow a more seamless and centralized workflow across different platforms.

6. Pricing

Choosing a QR code generator that provides value for money is essential. Remember: a more expensive QR reader doesn’t always mean better.

Go for a platform that offers different pricing plans to cater to different budgets. You must also guarantee that you’re truly getting your money’s worth.

7. Positive user reviews

Before choosing a QR code generator, it’s important to read user reviews. It will give you an idea of how other users have found the software and whether it fits your needs.

Look for a QR code maker with positive user reviews and high ratings. But at the same time, be careful with fake reviews.

Why you should choose QR TIGER

1. Easy-to-use interface

An easy-to-use interface is one of the essential qualities to look for in a QR code generator. Complicated software will only lead to frustration and wasted time. 

With QR TIGER, generating QR codes is a breeze. The user-friendly interface makes it easy to create QR codes in just a few clicks. 

And the signup process is just as simple; no credit card information is needed.

On top of that, its reasonable pricing options make QR TIGER an accessible choice for businesses of all sizes.

2. Comprehensive solutions

QR TIGER offers a range of comprehensive solutions to suit any business need. Whether you need a basic QR code for a website URL or a more advanced QR code for mobile app downloads, QR TIGER has you covered. 

The software also offers unique features like the multi URL and H5 QR codes.

3. Customization

QR TIGER understands that customization is key to standing out in a crowded market.

It offers a range of customization options to make your QR codes unique. Choose from various patterns and foreground colors, and add your logo to make your QR codes your own.

4. High-quality QR code images

The quality of a QR code image can make all the difference in its effectiveness. QR TIGER offers high-quality QR code images in both SVG and PNG formats.

In case you didn’t know, SVG files are beneficial for printing purposes that users can resize without losing resolution.

5. Software integrations

QR TIGER’s software integrations make it easy to use their solutions with other tools you may already be using. 

Integrate with popular tools like Zapier, HubSpot, Canva, and Google Analytics to streamline your workflow and make the most of your QR codes.

6. Security compliances

QR TIGER takes security seriously and commits itself to providing a safe environment for its users.

It’s the only QR code generator in the market with an ISO 27001 certification, ensuring the highest level of data security. 

In addition, the platform is GDPR compliant and follows strict data privacy regulations to protect its users’ personal information.

All data is encrypted using SSL encryption, guaranteeing no unauthorized parties can access it.

7. Trusted by brands worldwide

Over 850,000 brands worldwide trust QR TIGER to provide effective QR code solutions. Their QR code solutions work across industries, from small businesses to large corporations. 

Create a QR code with QR TIGER and unlock limitless marketing possibilities

QR codes are the perfect digital tool for today’s fast-paced world because they can provide instant data access. They’re easy to use and even easier to make.

Now that you know the answer to the question, “How do QR codes work,” it’s time to look for a reliable QR code online platform so you can create your high-quality, customized QR code.

Trust QR TIGER for your QR codes. Its user-friendly interface, comprehensive solutions, and high-quality QR code images make it the go-to choice for businesses and individuals.

Choose QR TIGER and experience the power and convenience of streamlined operations with QR codes.

Sign up for a freemium trial and create your customized QR code today.


How are QR codes generated?

QR codes are generated using a QR code maker. To create, simply go to a QR code builder like QR TIGER and select a QR solution from the menu.

Then add the details and choose a QR code type. Then, you can customize your QR code design using the customization tool. Once done, test it and click Download.

Are QR codes free to use?

Yes, QR codes are free to use, but it depends on the type of QR code you want to create.

Static QR codes are usually offered for free by most QR code generator websites since they are relatively simple and have limited functionalities. 

On the other hand, dynamic QR codes come with advanced features such as the ability to track scan data, edit the content of the code, and change the destination URL. 

These features are unavailable in static QR codes and require a more sophisticated management system.

Therefore, QR code generators usually offer dynamic QR codes as premium options.

While paying for QR codes may seem like a burden, their advanced features are worth the investment. 

You can streamline your marketing and operational efforts by allowing you to update your codes’ content easily and provide valuable data and analytics that can help you optimize your campaigns and improve your ROI. 

Can QR codes be damaged? 

Yes, QR codes can be damaged, but they can sustain some damage and remain scannable. 

QR codes have a built-in error correction level that allows them to withstand damage such as scratches, dirt, and even some missing parts of the code.

The error correction level refers to the redundancy built into the code, which enables users to scan the QR code even if up to 30% of it is damaged or obscured. 

Most QR code generators offer four error correction levels ranging from 7% to 30%.

The higher levels offer greater redundancy and, thus, better damage resistance.

It’s important to choose an appropriate error correction level when generating the code and ensure that users print and display it correctly to ensure your QR code remains scannable.

How can I know that my QR codes work?

You can run a test scan on your QR code using your smartphone. You can use an app to scan QR codes on different device types like Android and iOS for better results.

If your device doesn’t have a built-in QR code scanner, you can always download a QR code scanner app for devices.

How do you scan a QR code?

You can scan a QR code by opening your device’s camera or a third-party scanner app. 

Hold your smartphone steady for 2–4 seconds toward the QR Code you want to scan and click on the notification to access the content of the QR Code.

In which Android and iOS OS version can you find a built-in QR code scanner in the camera?

The camera has a built-in QR code scanner in recent Android and iOS operating systems versions.

Android users can access this feature on devices running Android 8.0 or later.

iOS users can find the built-in QR code scanner in the camera app on iOS 11 or later.

This built-in QR code scanner saves users the hassle of downloading a separate app to scan QR codes. Open the camera app, point it at the QR code, and wait for the device to recognize it. 

This feature makes scanning QR codes much easier and more convenient for users. It promotes using QR codes as a marketing tool. But how do you scan a QR code when your device doesn't have that feature? Go, get yourself a scanner.

Which QR code scanner should I download?

When it comes to choosing a QR code scanner app, there are many options available.

One popular choice is the QR TIGER scanner app, which offers a fast and reliable scanning experience.

The app is free on Android and iOS platforms, offering additional features like creating and scanning QR codes.

Other popular QR code scanner apps include QR Code Reader by Scan, QR Scanner by Kaspersky, and NeoReader QR & Barcode Scanner.

These apps are free to download and offer similar features to the QR TIGER scanner.

In addition to these standalone apps, some smartphones now come with a built-in QR code scanner in the camera app.

For example, Google Lens is built into many Android devices, allowing users to point their camera at a QR code to scan it.

Brands using QR codes

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