How to decode QR codes without scanning them

QR codes are everywhere, tantalizing us with hidden information. Of course, a few of them are portals to malware or other uncool business, so it's not a good idea to just scan them all and hope for the best. QRreader is a Chrome extension that lets you get the information without putting your gear at risk.

QR codes make life easier for everyone these days, but that just means it also makes life easier for the bad guys. There may not be that many QR scams out there--yet--but it's still prudent to keep from scanning codes from sources you don't trust. Chrome users can check things out before scanning with QRreader, a nifty extension that will let you know what lurks beneath the pixels. Here's how to use it: 

  1. Install QRreader from the Chrome Store
  2. When you see a QR code on a Web page, just right-click it and select "Read QR code from image" from the context menu. 
    Step 2: Right-click the QR code.
    Step 2: Right-click the QR code. Screenshot by Rob Lightner
  3. If the code just contains a link, a new tab will open with that link. Anything else will pop up in a window; select OK to copy the results to your clipboard if you like. 
    Step 3: Copy information to clipboard.
    Step 3: Copy information to clipboard. Screenshot by Rob Lightner

QRreader can be finicky, so you may need to reload your browser to make it work after you first load it up. If you encounter a QR code that's printed out or otherwise not easily Web-accessible, just snap a picture of it (making sure your camera won't scan it automatically), then open the image file in Chrome. It won't work for everything, but it should help you most of the time. 

Thanks to Addictive Tips for the link!

About the author

    Rob Lightner is a tech and gaming writer based in Seattle. He has reviewed games, gadgets, and technical manuals, written copy for space travel gear, and composed horoscopes for cats.

     

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