Use QR codes to let friends use your home Wi-Fi easily

Create a "cheat sheet" like this to let friends access your Wi-Fi easily

When friends come to visit, it’s increasingly handy to let them connect their smartphones and tablets to your Wi-Fi network.  Whether they want to share amusing YouTube clips, download the latest and greatest apps/games you’ve been discussing or just access web and email, Wi-Fi usually makes it quicker than relying on the mobile phone network. There’s another benefit if they’ve got an iPhone/iPad and your house has an Apple TV as part of your audio/video setup. By connecting their Apple gadget to your network, they can beam their choice of music, videos or photos to your TV/hifi wirelessly using AirPlay. It’s really simple and makes media sharing much more immersive than passing someone’s iPhone or iPad around.

But there’s a problem. If you’ve secured your home Wi-Fi network, it’s protected with a strong password that needs to be entered on every device that connects to the network. The longer and more complex the password, the harder it is to type in on an iPhone/iPad. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way of entering the password without having to type it in?  There is: QR codes. We used them last night when we had friends round for St Patrick’s Day dinner and they made light work of distributing my ridiculously complicated Wi-Fi password.

Just scan the QR code, choose "Copy Password" then paste it into the device's Wi-Fi settings

You’ve probably seen QR codes before.  QR codes are those square barcode things you’ve seen popping up on advertising posters.  They’re normally used to provide an easy way of entering web addresses into smartphones, but they can be used for lots of other types of information – including Wi-Fi network details.  To use them you simply open a QR code reader app, scan the QR code with your camera and then the phone decodes the information.

To help your guests get online, all you need to do is create a QR code that contains your Wi-Fi details, then print out a “cheat sheet” for your guests to use.

You can create your QR code here by choosing “WiFi Network” from the “Select a Code Action” drop-down:

Once you’ve got your QR code, copy and paste it into your “cheat sheet”. Here’s a template for creating your own cheat sheet.

Does this approach help you? Any other suggestions for making this stuff easier? Please let me know in the comments.

7 thoughts on “Use QR codes to let friends use your home Wi-Fi easily

  1. You describe using a QR code to facilitate connecting an iPhone / iPad to a WiFi network. I’ve read in several places that Apple hasn’t exposed an API for such functionality, and hence it only works on Android. How did you get this to work with Apple? Would a QR WiFi code generated at: work with Apple now?

  2. Hello. To clarify step-by-step using an Apple iOS device:

    1. Open QR code reader and Scan QR code
    2. Tap “Copy Password to Clipboard” button (see screenshot)
    3. Go to Settings > Wi-Fi and connect to desired network
    4. Paste password when prompted

    This saves people from keying in a long/complex Wi-Fi password. I know the process is not fully automatic (i.e. the user needs to do more than just scan the QR code). As you rightly suggest, the connection can’t be fully automated until Apple provide support for that within iOS.

  3. A few questions about this process on iOS:
    1) After you scan the QR code, does the “WiFi Network” screen automatically show or is an additional user step needed to get it to do so?
    2) Do you actually need to type in the password – or does the device read it from the QR code?
    3) Does the “WiFi Network” screen actually display the WiFi password in clear text?

  4. @ Eliezer:
    1. Yes, the “WiFi Network” screen shows automatically, as soon as the QR code is decoded.
    2. No, you don’t need to type anything. The device reads the password from the QR code — which is the whole point of using a QR code and reader, of course.
    3. Yes, the password is displayed in cleartext, as shown in the illustration (where it says, “your-wifi-network-password”. The stuff in quotes will be the actual PW.

  5. Cool idea. I need to go the other way, connecting my Apple TV to my wireless and its incredibly complex password. Entering it via the remote has proven to be maddening and unsuccessful. Any suggestions or a modification to your QR process?

  6. If you have a backslash in your wifi password, it needs to be doubled. However this causes confusion for the iphone (at least the app we were using), so moral of the story, don’t use a back slash in your password if you want the same QR code to work for both droid and iphone.

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