No matter how much our tech has advanced in the past ten years, we can’t escape the prevalence of barcodes and QR codes being everywhere, it seems. Even though they’re practically a universal way to look up products and services electronically, many people can feel frustratingly “cut off” from being able to access them; we’re here with the best free barcode scanners that you can find online, with recommendations to suit your needs whether you’re working from a computer, a smartphone, or a tablet. Operating system won’t be an obstacle as we search for the best software available, that’s hopefully also the easiest to use.
Contrary to popular belief, barcodes aren’t just for department store employees registering the inventory on the shelves and racks of shops. That once might have been the case, but now they’ve become a way for average consumers to turn themselves into smarter shoppers, gaining access to the best deals, the best buys, and the best places to shop. The fact that virtually everyone has access to a barcode (and QR code) scanner has certainly helped this practice to flourish.
That tech in question, in case you were wondering, are the smartphones and computers that have found such an important place in our day-to-day lives.
Doing some last minute grocery shopping, and want to see if the competing store has better prices? A barcode scanner is your friend. See a QR code plastered somewhere that promises to give you access to exceptional savings? You guessed it–the barcode scanner. It’s easy to carry around your camera-equipped smartphone and not even realize that it can double as this particular service, but once you get started, you’re going to get hooked. On top of that, you’re going to want the very best barcode scanner that you can get your hands on.
Of course, not everyone is going to have access to a smartphone all of the time, and anyone who has to spend a lot of time at a computer desk (I’m raising my hand, here) will welcome the ability to scan barcodes right from their desktop. We have options for that, too, so no matter what sort of tech you keep in your life, you’ll have a way to gain access to a reliable barcode scanner.
We’ll also be making a priority to only recommend free options. The idea behind this is to help you save, first and foremost, and it would be slightly counterproductive to recommend a paid app when there are so many free choices available online.
The following guide will be separated into two sections, the first dealing with apps that you can find for your smartphone (iOS and Android, both), followed by a few web resources that you can use to scan barcodes from within your web browser, whether you’re on a Windows PC or Mac.
Best Free Barcode Scanners for Smartphones
Let’s be real; most people are smartphone owners, these days. We don’t hold anything against anyone that chooses not to own one, but certain applications and services available on this widespread tech can help to make your life easier in huge ways! From shopping savings to social media to plain, old fun, taking advantage of common, free apps like a QR code and barcode reader, is remarkably easy, once you give it a try.
Below are several apps that are at the top of their game–they each carry specific functions and features that make them both unique and reliable. Some are simple barcode readers, while others have additional benefits that will help you to look up products and find better deals on specific barcode-identified items.
QR Code Reader
Developed and distributed by TapMedia Ltd, this app has a surprising amount of function for being both free and exceptionally lightweight. Not only will you be able to scan various types of barcodes and QR codes, you’ll also be able to create your own QR codes, which can then be shared, distributed, and printed. Want to create a code to spread your brand? Not a problem! Want to leave fun notes around the house in QR code form for your family to find and decipher? You can do that, too!
QR Code Reader is available on iOS and Android and is free to download and use on both. It doesn’t come with as many of the “savings” oriented features as more retailer-friendly applications, but then again, this particular app wasn’t meant to! It’s a great pick for someone that’s just learning how to use their smartphone camera to read barcodes.
At the opposite end of that particular spectrum, we have ShopSavvy. This app is exceptionally savings-oriented, and even a quick visit to the app’s website (which does not offer the same services as the app itself) will give you an idea of just how many deals can be sourced and taken advantage of through this particular software.
A recent update has streamlined its interface and activity quite a lot, making it overall more user-friendly. You can use ShopSavvy to distinguish which items in a particular store are on sale before you even start shopping, which is a great benefit to anyone that’s trying to be mindful of their budget!
If QR Code Reader is for beginners, and ShopSavvy is for the smart consumer, then ScanLife is for those who are information hungry. While it has the same basic barcode and QR code scanning features as other apps, the sheer wealth of information that’s available through it is staggering! So much so, that I would guess that a beginner who isn’t used to shopping this way might be immediately overwhelmed.
In spite of this, the app never feels particularly bloated with information, and it’s probably the most thoroughly useful scanning app on the market. On top of the traditional benefits that you’d expect from a consumer-oriented app, it also markets services heavily towards retailers, resulting in some specific promotions and deals that are only available through ScanLife. If you’re feeling confident about your scanning and shopping, I highly recommend this app as the pinnacle of free barcode and QR code scanners.
Best Free Online Barcode Scanners
Sometimes, smartphone scanning just isn’t available. The particular matter less than the fact, but it doesn’t mean you’ll be entirely unable to scan and interpret barcodes! Several websites allow you to upload and import images of barcodes, QR codes, and other frequently used symbols (all the way up to driver’s licenses) that can then be interpreted through a web portal, without any need for an app. The downside, however, is that you need to have that relevant image to upload in order to make these function, which means that smartphones are going to inherently be the faster and more efficient choice.
Inlite Online Barcode Reader
This is the simplest choice that I found available online, and it has support for a wide variety of possible code types, including the most popular barcodes and QR codes. As described above, you’ll still need to upload an image in order to make use of it, but barring that single obstacle, this is a fast little resource that can precisely identify the product or service hidden in a code with just a couple of clicks.
One of the problems that come with using web portals for any particular service is that they’re absolutely reliant upon your being able to access them. If you’re at work, or on any other internet connection that regularly limits online browsing, you could very easily find yourself cut off from a service you expected to be able to use.
This is why it’s useful to have a backup, and it’s why Online Barcode Reader (aptly titled, I know) is what I recommend in lieu of not being able to use Inlite’s Online Barcode Reader. They’re each essentially the same service wrapped up in different presentations, but having more than one way to scan barcodes (if you don’t have a smartphone handy) can be a good idea! If nothing else, tuck it away in your browser’s bookmarks for the day that you might need it!
Though there are dozens of other barcode scanners available online and on smartphone app stores, the above recommendations will get you started with some of the best. Based on my own research and testimony from these apps’ users, these are some of the best that you can currently find across multiple platforms (which should make iOS and Android users both happy; a rare thing!)
If you’re an experienced shopper who often scans barcodes, QR codes, and other sets of coded information, let us know what you thought of our recommendations–or, inversely, provide your own! The market can shift on a dime, and while these might be the best free barcode scanners that you can find online right now, that could easily change at any time. We’ll keep our reviews and guides up to date at Appamatix, so don’t hesitate to share this article and let us hear your thoughts in the comments below!