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How to make a QR code for free

There are several ways to make a QR code, and we'll explore the easiest (and free) options here.
maria-diaz
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer on

Quick Response codes, more commonly known as QR codes, are two-dimensional barcodes that contain information that is scanned, for example by a phone camera, and interpreted by the device. This information can lead to a website, database, multimedia content, or file, and it can be used in augmented reality, advertising, social media, and much more. 

We've all seen QR codes in our day-to-day lives. We've spotted them in marketing campaigns, on products at stores, and supplying menus at restaurants. 

They can be a handy tool for getting more followers for your company's social media accounts -- or to simply get the word out about a product or business. Though be aware that QR codes can be used for scams and phishing as well.  

Some tools for making QR codes for websites require a subscription, while others allow you to create them for free. Here, we'll show you the best free options. 

How to make a QR code for free

QR code shown on a laptop screen in an office
Image: Maria Diaz/ZDNet & Getty Images

Here are some examples things you could use QR codes to do:

  • Link to a website, business, or personal page
  • Share multimedia (like video or images)
  • Link to social media accounts
  • Share files or text
  • Request feedback
  • Download an app on Android and iOS 
  • Make monetary transactions (PayPal, Venmo, Cash App)
  • Add WhatsApp and vCard contacts
  • Send emails
  • Connect to Wi-Fi
  • Even make a call or send an SMS

There are several websites and applications you can use to make a QR code. Here are the top ones:

Google Chrome

QR code with a T rex in the middle, above the words Google Chrome

Example of a QR code for a website, created with Google Chrome.

Image: Maria Diaz/ZDNet

Did you know you can create QR codes for free using the Google Chrome browser? A simple right-click on the page you're on brings up Chrome's menu, with one option being "Create QR code for this page." You can do the same on some images that are on websites, too.

Screenshot showing how to create a QR code from a website by right-clicking on the page and choosing Create QR code

Create a QR code from a website by right-clicking on the page and choosing Create QR code 

Image: Maria Diaz/ZDNet

The option to create a QR code is available on Google Chrome for desktop and on both iOS and Android. To create a QR code on Chrome from your mobile device, just tap on Share on iOS or the menu, then Share on Android, then select Create a QR code. Once your code is created, you can share it with others or save it to your device.

However, Google Chrome's option is primarily for sharing websites; this simple tool doesn't support other types of QR code uses, like to linking to an app download or a multimedia file, or sharing text or contacts.   

QRbot

QR code above the word QRbot

Example of a QR code for a website, created with QRbot.

Image: Maria Diaz/ZDNet

QRbot is the best free option for desktop users, though it doesn't allow as much personalization as some others. On the website, you can choose to create a QR code for a URL, a contact card, to join a Wi-Fi network, to send a text or email, or to make a call. Then simply click on Download to save the QR code to your computer.

Screenshot showing how to make a QR code with QRbot

QRbot is simple and straightforward: Simply choose the type of QR code and enter the info below.

Image: QRbot

There are mobile versions of QRbot available for iOS and Android mobile devices. In addition to creating QR codes, you can use the app to scan QR codes and barcodes.

QRbot Mobile app examples

QRbot Mobile app examples

Image: QRbot

This app does include ads. You can sign up for a subscription to remove advertising and allow access to advanced features, such as more themes and customization options.

A QRbot subscription costs $2.99 per month or $10.99 for lifetime use.

QR.io

QR.io example code with a ZDNet logo in the center

Example of a QR code for a website, created with QR.io.

Image: Maria Diaz/ZDNet

Creating a QR code with the QR.io website is pretty easy, though you will need to create an account to download the QR code. This will kick off a seven-day free trial. See more on pricing below.

The website lets you link your QR code to many options, such as apps, social media pages, coupons, feedback or review forms, menus, and event details. Simply click on one, fill out the information for what you want your code to link to, and customize it. Then you can download your code in PNG or SVG formats.

Screenshot of QR.io website with customized QR code on the right

The QR.io website offers many options.

Image: QR.io

QR.io is a subscription service for creating static and dynamic QR codes. It costs $35 a month or $350 a year, and both options offer unlimited QR codes, unlimited scans, API access, custom landing pages, bulk creation, and scan statistics. 

With a dynamic QR code, you can create a landing page that can be changed without having to update the code. With a dynamic code, you also have access to scan statistics, so you can see when and where your code was scanned. After the seven-day free trial, dynamic QR codes will freeze functionality while the static ones will continue to work.

The other main benefits of having a QR.io account are that it allows you to create a large number of QR codes, easily customize the colors and shapes on your QR codes, upload logos, and add frames. 

QR Code Generator, powered by Bitly

A QR code with a ZDNet logo above the words QR Generator

Example of a QR code for a website, created with QR Code Generator.

Image: Maria Diaz/ZDNet

QR Code Generator, powered by Bitly, the link-shortening service, is another subscription-based service used to easily create QR codes. As with QR.io, you can create codes that lead to a URL, vCard, text, email, SMS, Wi-Fi, Bitcoin, social media, PDF, mobile applications, and multimedia.

Simply choose the option to link to your QR code, then enter the website URL or drop the file on the site. Then, customize and download the completed QR code. The whole process takes less than 5 minutes. 

Screenshot of the QR Code Generator homepage showing the options

The QR Code Generator homepage, powered by Bitly.

Image: Bitly

This page lets you create static QR codes for free, but you can sign up for a Pro account (which offers a 14-day free trial) to create dynamic codes with personalized landing pages. It also allows statistical monitoring, so Pro users can track their QR codes' stats with printable reports.

This service also lets Pro users use their QR code API to integrate QR code creation into their system with branded or black-and-white codes.

Prices for Bitly's QR Code Generator are billed annually and start at $9.99 a month and range up to $46.99 a month. 

QR Code Generator & QR Maker (iOS and Android)

QR code with the words Scan Me and QR Code Generator Mobile app

Example of a QR code for a website, created with the QR Code Generator and QR Maker app from Gulooloo Tech.

Image: Maria Diaz/ZDNet

QR Code Generator & QR Maker by Gulooloo Tech (not to be confused with Bitly's generator), a popular smartphone app used to create QR codes, is available for download on both iOS and Android.

Examples of logo and color customization using QR Code Generator & Maker

Examples of customization using Gulooloo Tech's QR Code Generator & Maker mobile app.

Image: Gulooloo Tech

This app features more personalization due to its customizable templates. You can add photos, change colors, and make GIF QR codes. There is a free version with ads; a subscription costs $5.19 a month or $38.99 as a one-time fee for lifetime access. 

QR codes for social media accounts

QR codes created in Instagram and TikTok.

Two examples of QR codes created natively in social media applications.

Image: Maria Diaz/ZDNet

Social media has grown into a standard marketing tool for companies, entrepreneurs, and influencers alike. Creating a QR code to link to your company's social media offers a simple way for others to access your socials and quickly get more information about your company.

You can use QR codes that link to your personal profile or a company's profile on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok, Snapchat, and other services, and some services make it easy by permitting you to create a QR code from within the app. These can be particularly helpful for public advertisements, events, or other marketing needs.

More about QR codes:

How do I make a QR code payment?

Some payment stations have a QR code that you can scan, and it will lead you to the payment gateway. This can make contactless checkout easier.

But you can also set up a QR code for a user profile in payment apps like Venmo, Cashapp, and PayPal. That way, you can send or request money quickly just by scanning someone's code with your smartphone camera -- no need to search for anything.

Should I make a QR code for my business?

Cardstock business cards are out. If they weren't dead already, the pandemic and subsequent contactless options have finished them off.

Electronic business cards, vCards, or Virtual Contact Files (VCF) are the new business cards. These VCF or VCARD files are created in much the same format as a business card, giving a name, address, email, URL, images, and any other pertinent personal or business information.

Most of the websites mentioned above allow users to create QR codes that lead to vCards.

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