Installed the dev preview today, and found that Cortana has taken over the search button. Okay.

The problem is that I don't see the option to do a vision search anymore. I'm unsure of the exact terms, but this answer has a screenshot of the button


enter image description here

With the vision search you could snap pics of QR codes, or OCR text for copying it or translation.

Now I can't figure out how to do this with Cortana! The only way to access this functionality is to hit the camera button and change lenses.

Am I missing something? Is this in the pipes for 8.1 once it is out of beta?


As far as I know, this is by design - Cortana replaces Bing Search, and currently doesn't support scanning QR/barcodes (although she can do music searches, so this might change in the future). So as long as Cortana is active, there's no built-in way to launch Bing Vision other than as a camera lens.

Possible workarounds

  1. It's possible to temporarily disable Cortana, by turning off GPS (location). After that the search button should open the old Bing Search app, along with the Bing Vision button. You'll have to turn GPS back on to be able to use Cortana again, so overall this is a pretty major nuisance, even if you put GPS on/off as one of the quick actions in the action centre.

  2. You can use a third-party app for scanning QR/barcodes. See the following article at WPCentral for several recommendations:
    Top ways to snap that QR code with your Windows Phone 8.1 device

  3. If you need/want Bing Vision and don't want to go through the hassle of disabling Cortana, a free app called QR for Cortana lets you pin Camera Lenses to the Start screen. This enables you to launch the Bing Vision lens with only two taps, the same as it took in 8.0. More at WPCentral:
    Shortcut to Bing Vision makes it easier to scan QR codes again in Windows Phone 8.1

  4. Better yet, an app called Bing Vision Tile lets you pin a tile to your Start screen that takes you straight to Bing Vision. This is even faster than the official way (just one tap vs. two), but the app isn't free. More at WMPoweruser:
    1-Click Bing Vision shortcut even better than the real thing

    This app is no longer available.


As mentioned in the article Indrek linked to, Bing Vision is included as a "Lens" in the Camera app in 8.1. It would be nice if they would let you pin Lenses to the Start Screen, though, so you don't have to go through the hassle of launching the camera app, then tapping the lens button, then selecting the Bing Vision Lens.

  • See my updated answer for a way to do just that - pin Lenses to the Start screen.
    – Indrek
    Apr 17 '14 at 22:01
  • In my opinion, fastest way to get to visual search is, without even hitting the power button, hold the camera button, then tap the lenses button, then Bing Vision. I'd say this is comparable to the speed of doing it from before.
    – Katana314
    Apr 23 '14 at 20:35

The quickest way right now, if you don't want to install an additional app is todo the following.

  1. Activate camera using the dedicated key
  2. Options "..."
  3. Tap on Lenses
  4. Activate Bing visions
  5. Scan code

In Wp8.1 to get to the lenses app tap on the 2nd icon at the top of the screen when you launch the camera app.


Bing Vision Tile is no longer available as an option as suggested in lndrek's suggestion #4. There is a free app called QR for Cortana that takes you to the lenses screen from which you can select Bing Vision. 2 clicks though.


QR for Cortana works for me , especially now that you can use sub folders on the start screen.

  • 2
    "Me too" answers are discouraged on this site - Instead, when you have sufficient reputation you can vote for the answer you agree with.
    – Rowland Shaw
    Sep 10 '14 at 7:06

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