Did you know your iPhone has a secret QR code scanner app? Here's how to quickly access it and no longer rely on the Camera app's auto-detection

iPhone 15 Review
(Image credit: Future)

Have you ever tried to capture a QR code on your iPhone through the Camera app and had to refocus multiple times until the camera finally picked it up? It doesn’t have to be that way! The iPhone on iOS 17 has a secret QR code scanner app that takes away auto-detection pains and allows you to quickly scan and open a link instantly.

Most people don’t even know it exists, heck half the iMore team was shocked when I told them that there was a secret app hidden in iOS. But you’re in luck, I’m going to let you in on the iPhone’s QR code secret — here’s how to access it.

How to access the secret QR code scanner app on iPhone

Hidden within iOS is an app called Code Scanner that you can access in a few different ways. If you didn’t know it existed you’d never even find it considering Apple chooses to not show the app inside the App Library. Here’s how to find the secret QR code scanner app on your iPhone:

Code Scanner iPhone

(Image credit: Future / Apple)
  1. Swipe down from the middle of your screen to access Spotlight
  2. Type Code Scanner
  3. Open the app and aim at a QR code

Pretty easy, right? It gets even better if you own one of the best iPhones, the 15 Pro or the 15 Pro Max. My favorite way to use Code Scanner is via the Action button as Apple refers to it as an App in Shortcuts, making it super easy to access. Here’s how:

Code Scanner iPhone

(Image credit: Future / Apple)
  1. Open Shortcuts
  2. Tap the +
  3. Select Open App
  4. Tap App then choose Code Scanner

If you don't have an Action button, you can also access the Code Scanner app via Control Center. Simply head into Settings, select Control Center, and add Code Scanner. Now whenever you want to access the secret app swipe down from the top left of your screen and press the QR code icon.

This creates a shortcut that can be used as your Action button but also as a regular shortcut for anyone who doesn’t own one of the flagship devices. It’s a really neat way to scan QR codes and far more efficient than using the Camera app. Code Scanner also includes a flash button so you can brighten the picture to make the code easier to scan. 

Did you know about this secret app? Not many people do but it’s very useful considering just how many QR codes we use nowadays, especially when logging into streaming services like Apple TV Plus.

John-Anthony Disotto
How To Editor

John-Anthony Disotto is the How To Editor of iMore, ensuring you can get the most from your Apple products and helping fix things when your technology isn’t behaving itself.

Living in Scotland, where he worked for Apple as a technician focused on iOS and iPhone repairs at the Genius Bar, John-Anthony has used the Apple ecosystem for over a decade and prides himself in his ability to complete his Apple Watch activity rings.

John-Anthony has previously worked in editorial for collectable TCG websites and graduated from The University of Strathclyde where he won the Scottish Student Journalism Award for Website of the Year as Editor-in-Chief of his university paper. He is also an avid film geek, having previously written film reviews and received the Edinburgh International Film Festival Student Critics award in 2019. 

John-Anthony also loves to tinker with other non-Apple technology and enjoys playing around with game emulation and Linux on his Steam Deck.

In his spare time, John-Anthony can be found watching any sport under the sun from football to darts, taking the term “Lego house” far too literally as he runs out of space to display any more plastic bricks, or chilling on the couch with his French Bulldog, Kermit. 

  • simonmann
    Did you know its not a secret?
  • Annie_M
    I had known this, but am so used to using the camera that I forgot! I'm glad for the reminder! :D