QR Code 101 and How Does It Work? The Beginner's Ultimate Guide

Last updated:   March 27, 2023

You might be wondering, "how do QR codes work?" To answer you directly, QR codes store digital information accessible through a phone scan. 

QR codes are 2D barcodes which contain any kind of information that can redirect scanners to online information. 

If you are only beginning to understand the basic works of a QR code, here is a guide for beginner’s to know more about QR codes and how QR codes are made. 

How does a QR code work? 

QR codeBefore we jump into the basic works of a QR code, we must first learn the basic concept of what is a QR code.

A ‘Quick Response Code’ also known as QR code is a two-dimensional type of barcode that Denso Wave develops, a Japanese barcode developer, in 1994.

QR codes are scan-able using smartphones devices, which are natively developed to scan/detect QR codes.

These codes are generated using an online QR code generator that displays an online information to the scanner when scanned. 

Today, QR codes are generally used in advertising, business, health care, and education. 

However, business sectors, especially in the advertising and operations, most widely use QR codes.

Aside from these sectors, the restaurant industry also employs an interactive restaurant menu QR code software and QR code generators to generate menu QR code for their business.

You can find QR codes in brochures, flyers, posters, billboards, items and products, business cards, and even online websites such as social media and shopping sites.

There are two types of QR codes: the Static QR code and Dynamic QR code solutions.

Brief History of QR codes

The use of technology alleviates people’s efforts in labor.

Just like the creation of QR codes, it holds a specific job to alleviate. In the early 1960s, the economy of Japan entered high economic growth. 

During this period, supermarkets and convenience stores thrive and are selling a wide range of commodities ranging from food to clothing. 

To keep up with the demand for checkout counters, the use of cash registers was implemented.

Due to manual inputting in checkout and sales, cashiers on the checkout counters experience numbness on their wrists and developed carpal tunnel syndrome.

As a solution to the problem, the Point on sales (POS) system was developed and incorporated the use of barcodes. 

In the long run, developers noticed the problem barcodes hold.

The limit of 20 alphanumeric characters was not enough in holding a product’s information and the position of how a barcode is scanned leads to scan failures. 

Denso Wave stepped in and devised a new type of barcode that could hold more information and can be scanned in any scanner orientation.

Thus, the rise of QR codes promulgated in 1994 and has made history up to today. 

Two types of QR codes: Static and Dynamic

Static QR code 

Static QR code

Static QR codes are QR codes that are free and permanent. This type of QR code is not modifiable and therefore cannot change the data stored in the QR code.

Its uses include linking email addresses, URLs, texts, WIFI passwords, social media links such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. Static QR codes hold three following features:

  • It is a one-time purpose QR code.
  • The data that can be stored is limited. If you use more information in generating a static QR code, the tendency of compromising the quality of the QR code is high.
  • It is free to use

Dynamic QR codes

Dynamic QR code

Dynamic QR codes are QR codes that are modifiable in content and can store more data even after you printed it into the paper.

This type of QR code allows more access to real-time scans monitoring, locations of scans made.

Dynamic QR codes has the following features but are not limited to:

  • multifunctional QR code for it allows multi-URL directories.
  • editable and enables you to create/remove URLs even if your QR code has been printed or deployed
  • it uses a short dynamic URL in storing data online.
  • the QR code scans are trackable so users can see their QR analytics results
  • has google analytics integration 
  • with password-protection feature for QR codes 
  • email notification feature 
  • Google Tag manager feature 
  • expiry feature for QR codes 
  • integration to other software like HubSpot and Zapier 
  • Bulk QR code solution 
  • API Integration
  • advanced QR solutions

How to use QR codes according to each type

After elaborating the essentials QR code features, we can now proceed to how to use QR codes in people’s various fields of interest.

Here are 10 uses of QR codes and how it processes;

1. The URL QR codes

URL QR code

Uses of QR codes are for websites, papers such as brochures, flyers, and catalogs, business cards, education, and store windows.

You can use any link from any browser like a URL for Bing QR code or Google. 

Follow the URL QR code guide below to generate your own URL QR code. 

Here are 6 steps how a URL QR code is made:

  • Go to QR TIGER, the best QR code generator online.
  • Select the “URL” category on the menu.
  • Enter the link you want to generate in the given field below
  • Select dynamic QR code
  • Personalize your QR code by choosing a set of patterns, eyes, colors, and add your logo to create identity.
  • Test to see if your QR code is not working or if it's functional, and download your QR code.

2. QR codes for video e.g. YouTube video, Google drive video

Video QR codeYou can use these QR codes in sending links of videos from YouTube, and Google Drive to your family, friends, classmates, and coworkers.

This way, by scanning and viewing without any hassle, you can automatically replace the burden of manually typing the video’s title. 

Video QR codes are useful to educators, influencers, business marketers, and students who are searching for videos that can be used in their skill enrichment and share it with their peers.

You can generate a Video QR code using an online QR code generator.

QR code generator

3. QR codes for Social Media

Social media QR code

With the rise of the game of social media domination, QR codes are a helpful tool in raking more followers and subscribers.

The social media QR codes comprise Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

By generating your social media QR code, people won’t have a hard time inputting your social media username in the search navigator of the social media sites. 

Here is how a social media QR code works:

A social media QR code works by scanning the QR code in the QR code scanner app or built-in QR code camera in your smartphone and automatically directs the person who scans it towards the profile of the owner of the QR code.

In this way, you can lessen the struggle of scrolling through numerous profiles displays and automatically follow view, and interact with the content posted and shared by the owner of the social media QR code. 

4. QR codes for Email

Email QR codeQR codes for business associates with Emails. With 293.6 billion emails that are sent and received daily in 2019, it is evident that the email ecosystem is flourishing and thriving.

The convenience of Email QR codes comes in handy by embedding your email address in generating your QR code.

By this means, you can easily let users scan your email QR code without letting them type your email address. 

In marketing, you can use the email QR code in marketing your campaign by posting it on your website, advertising posts, and social media sites, products, etc., as long as the surface is scan-able and has no tendencies in creating folds and creases.

5. QR codes for Wi-Fi

WiFi QR code

By using WiFi QR codes, you can replace the hassle of jotting down your WiFi password on a piece of paper by scanning and enjoying the WiFi connectivity without any configuration authorization needed. 

You can use your WiFi QR code in businesses such as WiFi access vending machine, restaurant and cafes, hotels, and more. 

6.QR codes for Files

File QR codeHow do QR codes work in PDF? Files such as PDF, audio, images, and videos are vital in business, education, health care, and more.

Keeping track of download links of these types of files can be difficult to maintain and manage.

The pertinence of QR codes for files varies to users and how they handle them.

For a resourceful individual, the convenience of having a file QR code helps him/her record the number of files by saving and share them with his/her peers, students, and affiliates with a common interest. 

QR codes for files are dynamic QR codes since it requires prompt of uploading/saving files that are heavy for static QR codes to bear.

The QR codes for files are useful in restaurants, hospitals, institutions with researches, online classes, and marketing campaigns.

QR codes for files are much needed in times of a medical outbreak, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, to maximize the urge for contactless interactions.

7. QR codes for Mobile Applications

App stores QR code

How do QR codes work in-app? Well, finding new means of advertising a mobile application on the digital platform can be stressful to do.

App Stores QR code allows users to easily download your app when they scan the QR code. 

Since customers need to click for the link of your applications or search for it in the App Store (for IOS) and Google Play Store (For Android).

The implementation of applying QR codes in your application can lessen the time a customer or user must interact with the application’s store, whether the App Store or Play Store.

The type of QR codes for mobile applications is dynamic since it allows data tracking such as real-time monitoring of scans made, profiles of the device used, location of the scans, and date of scans made.

Information stored and gathered in dynamic QR codes is important to the developers for it represents the trends that the app embedded QR codes made in growing the application’s downloads made.

8. QR codes for multi-URL

Multi URL QR code

The Multi-URL QR code comprises of multiple URLs per feature that redirects the user based on language, time, number of scans, and location.

Remember that you should only generate one QR code per feature 

Language feature Multi-URL QR code

Comprises of multiple URLs that redirect user based on their language which is automatically detected using their mobile language set-up. 

Time feature Multi-URL QR code

Redirects the user  to different landing pages based on time. 

Number of scans feature Multi-URL QR code

This redirects the users to different landing pages which is based on the number of scans, 

Location feature Multi-URL QR code

Comprises of multiple URLs that redirect the user to a specific location.

9. QR codes for H5 editor

H5 editor QR codeH5 editor QR codes are dynamic QR codes that allow users to create direct webpages.

In this way, you don’t need any commercialized host domains for your events.

An H5 is a term that stands for the mobile versions of websites opened in mobile browsers.

It is usually used in promoting events and products using an H5 page. 

H5 editor QR codes are usually used in marketing campaigns, restaurant and bar menus, events, etc. 

10. QR codes for Business Cards (vCard QR code)

vCard QR codeEver see a QR code on vCard and wonder, how do QR codes work on this little piece of artwork? QR codes on business cards are essential in connecting with potential customers, investors, and business partners.

It is a vital part of marketing your company’s credentials to the business community.

As the war for classy and elegant business cards occurs, QR codes for business cards can be your greatest tool in getting ahead of your competitors. 

Since the information needed in a business card is sometimes lengthy, the space provided in a typical business card template is not enough.

To avoid this problem, your basic information can be stored and generated into a QR code and attach them to your vCard without occupying too much space in the business card. 

The type of QR that can generate a business card is dynamic.

It needs a lot of information to encrypt and embed it into the QR code. 

What qualities you should look for in a QR code generator

Now that we identify the evident uses of QR codes today, we can now proceed in generating a QR code. Before we reveal the steps on how to generate a QR code, here are 3 things that you should consider in choosing the best QR code generator that you can find online:

1. Credibility

A working QR code generator is tasked with whether it has the credibility to deliver quality QR codes.

You can check its credibility by checking the QR code generator’s domain.

If it has an SSL certificate or displays a safe and secure connection to the server.

2. Clarity 

One of the reasons why people are searching for the best QR code generator online is its clarity in executing and delivery of interface prompts.

A vague QR code generator usually gets less attention from internet users. 

3. Trusted by big names and brands

Gaining trust from big brands boosts business influence on users.

If the QR code generator is credited and acknowledged by large brands, then the QR code generator is legit and working.

A QR code generator should help you create multifunctional campaigns.

How are QR codes generated?

  • Open a QR code generator with a logo like QR TIGER.
  • Select the category you want to generate and follow the prompt of the chosen category.
  • Generate your QR code by choosing what type of QR code you want to generate ( static or dynamic QR code)
  • Customize your QR code by choosing a set of patterns, eyes, colors, and add a logo and tag for better recognition by users.
  • Test and download your QR code in print quality.
  • Deploy your QR code in the paper and digital platforms.

How do payment QR codes work?

QR code for paymentCashless transactions through payment QR codes are widely adapted in Eastern countries.

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

With the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic, this payment method is suitable in practicing social distancing and following community health protocols. Here are 3 ways how payment QR codes work:

1. Smartphone scanning the recipient’s QR code.

Upon scanning the QR code, make sure that your smartphone supports the type of payment bill you are scanning.

In this way, QR codes found in bills, transportation, and checkout counters can be easily scanned without any hassle. 

One more example would be a vending machine QR code payment feature where buyers can purchase anything in just one scan. 

2. Retailer scanning a QR code on your phone screen.

This process is widely seen in movies and promotional videos of stores that use cashless payments using QR codes.

This process works when the amount of purchased items is identified at the checkout counters POS system.

After the total amount is identified, the retailer will prompt you to open the app that associates with the transaction and create a QR code that they can scan and transfer funds with.

3. App-to-app payments.

By using app-to-app payments, funds stacked in a certain app will only be transferred using the same app.

A great example of app-to-app transfer of funds and payment is Venmo, PayPal, and Google pay.

App-to-app payments work when both you and the recipient open the same payment app and transfer funds through inputting the amount of money you need to make payment with and generate a QR code that corresponds to the data of the amount contained.

After the code was generated, the recipient then scans the QR code and the app will notify the succession of the transfer.

QR code generator with logoBy generating a QR code, you can now experience first-hand how it works

Now that you already understand what does QR stand for in QR code and how does it work and its benefits, the next thing you should do is look for a QR code generator to use where you can customize your QR codes.

Using QR TIGER QR code generator, you can make branded QR codes by customizing the look of your QR.

Furthermore, you can also track the scans of your QR code and update the content of your QR code anytime you need it to. 

If you want to start your QR code journey, you can start by choosing the best QR code generator with a logo online. 


Are QR codes free to use?

YES and NO. The type of QR codes that online QR code generators offer are static and dynamic QR codes. The free QR codes are called static QR codes, and it only offers a one-time QR code generation.

Once the information or data is generated into a static QR code, the information is permanent and irreplaceable.

The QR codes that are not free are called dynamic QR codes.

This type of QR code stores data that are flexible, interchangeable, and multi-functional.

This offers additional features such as real-time scan counts, demographic profiling such as the address of the scans made, and type of device used; and timeline of scans made.

Is there a way that you can damage your QR codes?

Yes, if you are careless in generating your QR code.

Theoretically, QR codes are more secure than the traditional barcodes as the damage that a QR code can control is up to 30% or as long as the key points of the QR code is visible and scannable.

To avoid having a damaged or broken QR code, you should follow three important ways:

1. Always check if the URL you are going to generate is the one you want to embed in your QR code.

2. Check if the URL is working and it does not have potential future errors.

3. After generating your QR code, test it, and make sure that it directs you to the link that you have embedded in your QR code. 

How can I know that my QR codes work?

You can know if your QR code works when you scan it using various devices such as Android and IOS, and it easily directs you to the information that you have embedded in your QR code.

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

What OS version of Android does a built-in QR code scanner in the camera can be found?

The OS version of Android that has a built-in QR code scanner in the camera app is from Android 8.0 to the latest OS version, Android 10.

You can use the QR code scanner in the embedded Google Lens app which can also be found in the camera interface. 

Brands using QR codes