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Scanning QR codes with iOS 11

Q: Do I still need a separate app to scan bar codes and QR codes with my iPhone?

A: Quick Response (QR) codes — those black-and-white square images often found on packaging — have been around for years and serve as shortcuts to websites with more information about the item. Some museums have used QR codes on gallery cards, and services like Snapchat and Spotify are among those using their own variation of the concept.

QR codes can still be scanned with a mobile device using a dedicated app, but if your iPhone is running OS 11 system (or later), Apple’s standard Camera app should be able to detect a quick-response code when the black-and-white square is visible in the picture frame. When the Camera app recognizes a QR code, it displays a message asking if you would like to open the site in your web browser.

If you have the mobile version of Google Chrome installed on your iPhone, you can also use it to scan bar codes and QR codes. To do so, open the Chrome app and tap the browser address bar. When the keyboard appears on the screen, tap the square Scan icon (to the right of the microphone icon) and point the camera at the code. When Chrome decodes the address, it takes you to the product’s webpage. (As a Home-screen shortcut on iPhones with the 3D Touch feature, press and hold the Chrome icon to see a pop-up menu with a Scan QR Code option.)

QR scanning for Android users varies by version and hardware maker, and several third-party apps are available in the Google Play store. In later versions of Android, you can point the camera at an object and press the home button to get more information about what is on your screen from the Google search software.

Step-by-Step Upgrade to Windows 10

Q: How do you upgrade from Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Professional? Can you do it without having to reinstall everything on the computer?

A: Performing a “clean install” — where you copy all your data from the computer before reformatting the drive, installing a factory-fresh version of an operating system and copying your data back — can prevent many upgrade glitches. However, Microsoft allows you to upgrade your copy of Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Professional directly by downloading the software from its online store. Before you upgrade, make sure your system is up-to-date and fully back up your computer.

Depending on where you got the version of Windows 10 currently running on your PC, you may have to pay an upgrade fee of $99. You will need to activate the new version with either a digital license or a digital entitlement (which is already installed on the PC from your original purchase) or by entering another 25-character Microsoft product key from the seller.

If you do not have a license or product key from your original system purchase, go to the Start menu and select the Settings icon. Choose Update & Security and on the next screen, select Activation. Tap or click the “Go to Store” link in the box to visit the Microsoft Store to buy and download Windows 10 Professional on your PC.

Unless you have a digital license stored on your computer, you need to pay for the upgrade. (If you do have a product key for the Pro version, select the Change Product Key option in the Activation box and type in the new code.)

Windows 10 Professional includes all the features of the Windows 10 Home but adds bonus features like automatic cloud storage for your Microsoft Office files and the ability to log into your computer remotely. For extra security, the professional edition also includes BitLocker, Microsoft’s tool for encrypting your computer’s hard drive.

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