How to Make Scannable Bar Codes for Android Phones

Ever seen those black and white checkered boxes on Android web sites? They’re QR or “Quick Response” codes, and they can be read from your phone using the Barcode Scanner application from the Android Market. You can scan the codes that are published on web sites and use the results for all kinds of things. QR codes can be encoded with any short piece of text. This application will allow you to browse to a URL, save a contact, or copy the text to use in another application.

First, you use the app by opening it and holding the phone as if you’re taking a picture of the QR code. Here’s one that goes to the front page of Make Tech Easier:


There’s a box with a red line that gives you an idea of how to center the code.


Hold steady and… BEEP! The code has been interpreted. The app will give you options according to its best guess as to what the code is. If it’s a URL, it will give you the option of opening it in the browser. If it’s ordinary text, it will let you use it as a Google search or send it as an SMS message.

URLs are by far the most common use for QR codes on Android. If a web site wants to publish a link that should be viewed on the phone, or the link is to the Android Market, the QR code is an easy way to transfer this data to viewers’ phones. There’s no laborious typing it in on a tiny keyboard. Just scan and click.

If you’d like to create your own for a web site, business card, poster, flier, or tattoo, you can create one very easily by going to one of the many online QR code generators. is one of these and it couldn’t be easier. Just type in the text that you’d like to appear in the code, choose small, medium, large, or extra large and hit enter. Then save the image to your hard drive by right clicking and going to “Save Link as…” (Firefox). There’s also a permalink to the image that will appear the box right below it.

The Barcode Scanner app will also let you transfer data from one phone to another similar to the old infrared contact swap on Palm Pilots. Go to menu, then “Share” and choose a contact, bookmark, or the the contents of your clipboard. A QR code representing the data will appear on your screen. The person you’re transferring to then scans the screen of your phone.

Android Market Links

If you’d like to share a link to an app on the Android Market, there’s a special protocol that you use that looks like this:

“com.NamcoNetworks.PacMan” is the package name. There’s also:

Put this into the QR code generator and you’ll get a QR code that links to a search for solitaire games on the Android Market.

If there’s a specific app you want to link to, you can get the link and a small QR code from Cyrket.


  1. Hi there.

    It is nice to use this for business cards, but then, how to you add it to your contacts ?! I mean… a button to “add to contacts” and a process to identify the fields could be great.

    The P1i was delivered with an excellent business card scanner which could do it. I guess Android can too.

  2. Hey,

    I notice that you talk about making QR Codes that point to the Android Market. My website just added support for specialized Android Market links. Any url qr code that you generate that starts with market:// will get rendered with an Android logo in the top right so people know what it’s for. Check it out, the example below also searches for solitaire.

    The user friendly version is

  3. There's a firefox addon called 'mobile barcoder' that gives you a QR code for the web page link.

  4. Cool. Thanks for the recommendation

  5. Hi superkikim,
    Did you find how ti “add to contacts” ?
    Running barcode scanner on a magic phone, I still have no “add to contacts” button when scanning a Vcard…


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