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How to scan with an iPhone

Easily save documents and look up QR codes using just your camera.

Nuttawan Jayawan via Getty Images

Our phones can replace a lot of things we used to need on the regular — our wallets, our car keys and now even scanners. Thanks to your handset’s camera, the power to scan things is built into your iPhone. You can use it to scan documents, QR codes and more, allowing you to save IRL files in a pinch, pull up menus at restaurants and even check grocery prices on the fly. Here’s how to scan almost anything with your iPhone.

How to scan documents with an iPhone

The default way to scan a document with an iPhone lives within iOS’ native Notes app. Open it and open a new note. Tap the camera icon on the bottom menu bar, tap Scan Documents and then hold your phone to frame the document you want to scan.

How to scan with an iPhone
Photo by Julia Mercado / Engadget

The camera will scan the document automatically. But, just like taking a photo, you also have the option to do it manually by tapping the white button at the bottom of the screen or pressing the volume button.

If your document is more than one page, repeat the process for each page and hit the Save button at the bottom right corner when you’re done. If you need to redo or edit a scan, tap the stack icon at the bottom left corner. Once saved, all of the pages will be attached to the same note in your library.

How to scan with iPhone
Photo by Julia Mercado / Engadget

Your iPhone also has the ability to scan the text in your document and make a note from it as well. Just tap and hold on text in your scanned document and highlight the portion you want to extract. You can then make a new note from that, or copy and paste the text into an existing note.

How to scan a QR code with an iPhone

Open the Camera and hold it up to the QR code. Tap the link that generates beneath the code and it will take you straight to your browser. You will automatically be sent to the site or PDF that the QR code links to.

Another way to scan a QR code is by using iOS’ built in Code Scanner. First, go to settings and tap Control Center. Then, tap the green plus icon next to Code Scanner to add it to your Control Center. Swipe down from the top right corner of your home screen and tap the Code Scanner. The icon is represented with a small QR code inside four corners framing it.

How to scan with an iPhone
Photo by Julia Mercado / Engadget

That option will take you to another form of your camera. This time, there’s no need to click a link: just frame the code in the four white corners and wait. Code Scanner will automatically show you what's linked in your browser.

How to scan a barcode with an iPhone

Unfortunately, iPhones can’t handle barcodes on their own just yet, but there are third-party apps that can. Depending on the barcode, each app can help you do something different. If you are looking to keep track of books in your library, you can rely on Goodreads. If you just want to shop smart, ShopSavvy can help you find coupons on items you’re thinking of buying. And if you need a basic scanner, Barcode Scanner can look up anything and add it to your history, plus it even lets you make your own QR codes.