QR codes are now everywhere, from restaurant menus to descriptive panels in museums. They are simple to create but also simple to read since all you need to access them is a phone camera. As it becomes more and more popular there may be times when you don’t have your camera handy, such as when you have to read a QR with a laptop. Luckily there are more ways to read a QR code if you don’t have a camera and in this article, you will find several tips and tricks on how to do it.
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How to read a QR code with a PC without a camera
Can you scan a QR code on your computer? QR codes are practical and simple to use, but they also have downsides since when a QR code is scanned, it takes the user to a website whose content is unknown. This link can be dangerous as the target site may have a virus that could infect your device. To avoid this, the first advice we give is to scan only QR codes made by a reliable and well-known source.
If you have to read a QR code from a PC, however, the situation changes. In this case, you don’t need a camera, just a web browser or a security extension. But these aren’t the only methods – you may want to use the Google Lens app or other third-party apps built specifically for this. In this article, we want to explain in more detail how you could do it.
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Reading a QR code from a PC with a browser
If while browsing you find a QR code that you want to scan, all you have to do is save it on your device just like an image, or take a screenshot of the entire code and save the file on your PC. In fact, QR codes can be accessed through various specially designed websites.
One of them is Web QR which allows you to read a QR code without having to use your camera. This solution is great for decryption when you cannot install third-party programs on your PC. Here’s how to use this platform without having to enable camera access.
Once you enter the QR website, you will see a window open where it is written that the portal wants to use your camera. In this case, you don’t have to accept but deactivate this option by clicking on the “X” button in the dialog. Now click on the camera icon on the right side of the screen and then select “Choose file”. Find the QR code image file you saved earlier and click the “Open” button.
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The website will automatically read the code once it loads and ask you if you want to open the website it is linked to. If you want to continue consulting the site, press the OK button. This is a quick and easy method that allows you to scan a QR code using a web browser without using the camera and without having to install any other apps.
Read a QR code directly from a web page
As we have already mentioned, scanning a QR code can also have negative sides: not knowing where the link in the code leads, and there could be the risk of catching a virus or malware. If you want to make sure that the QR code does not infect your device with viruses or unwanted intrusions, the advice is to install an add-on in your browser. Chrome users can opt for the QReader extension which not only reads but also checks the links present in the QR code. This extension, therefore, allows you to examine the codes for any harmful content and protects your device from what is hidden between those pixels.
After installing QRreader on Chrome, when browsing you find a QR code, all you have to do is right-click on the code, and from the drop-down menu that opens, select “Read the QR code”. The extension will read the code and then ask if it can open the linked content in another tab. The link could be another web page or any other type of content.
Reading a QR code without a camera using Google Lens on a PC
Google Lens is an image recognition technology developed by Google and is a truly versatile tool. While most of the users know the platform for its camera-based features, this application has many other features as well. First of all know that Google Lens has a desktop version of the app that works on Windows 7, 8, 10, and Mac computers. The application also allows you to read QR codes although this feature is currently still in the testing phase. To use it, however, you must first enable it in Google Chrome’s “Flags” mode, which is meant for experimental phases.
When you encounter a QR code while browsing from a PC-based browser, if you want to use Google Lens to read it, follow these steps:
- Open Google Chrome on your PC.
- Type chrome://flags in the search bar and hit enter.
- Press “Ctrl + F” to use the word search bar and type “Google Lens”.
- In the tab that opens, select the “Search your screen with Google Lens” function in the search bar.
- Click on the drop-down menu and choose “Enabled”.
- Restart Chrome by clicking the “Restart” button.
- Go to the relevant website where the QR code you want to read is located.
- Right-click the code and select the “Search image with Google Lens” option from the drop-down menu.
- The Google Lens interface will give you a summary of the results.
The Google Lens app also allows you to upload images directly from your PC, including QR codes which are then read directly. Before you want to use Google Lens, make sure you have uploaded the QR code image to Google Photos. To use Google Lens on an image that has a QR code, follow these steps:
- Visit Google Photos and click the “Upload” icon.
- Click “Computer” if you want to import the image from your PC.
- Click “Open” to upload. (Alternatively, find the image in your library if it’s already there)
- Locate the code image you just uploaded and select it.
- Right-click on the image and choose “Search image with Google Lens”.
- At this point, the Google Lens app will present you with the results.
Please note that this option is still labeled ” under development”, which means that results may vary and some options may be limited. Also, the app may not work properly on some devices. The Google Lens QR code reading function actually works better on the mobile version of the app where even there you can read the QR codes without a camera but by loading images from the library.
QR codes are now very common in various daily situations and most users are now very familiar with these codes. In most cases, it is enough to frame the code with the smartphone camera to access the linked content. But what to do if you want to read a QR code via PC without a camera? There are many software solutions designed for reading them that allow you to access encrypted content without a camera. In addition to websites and applications, it is possible to use extensions such as the Google Chrome QR reader which also allows you to perform an antivirus scan.