How to set up your new mobile VR viewer

All my Cardboard headsets

Did you just get a Cardboard-compatible virtual reality headset?

You can tell if you have a mobile headset by the fact that it weighs very little, costs very little, and does not plug in to your computer. Instead, it has a place where you put in your smartphone. Then, if the package does not say “Gear VR” on it, you have a Cardboard-compatible viewer.

Before you do anything else, download the Google Cardboard app from the Google Play store for Android or from the iTunes store for the iPhone.

Configuring your viewer

Now you have to tell your phone what kind of headset you have. This is important, because different lenses distort the picture differently, and the phone has to know the curvature of the lenses, and how far they are from the phone, and so on. To do this, you need a Google Cardboard QR Code.

It looks like a regular QR Code, except that there’s a Cardboard outline in the middle. For example, here’s the Google Cardboard QR Code for the Mattel View-Master:


You might find one printed on the headset itself, in its instructions, or on the box it came in. If you can’t find it, check to see if it’s on our QR Codes page. Keep in mind that some headsets are sold under multiple brand names, so make sure that the picture matches your particular headset. If you still can’t find your QR Code — there are hundreds of manufacturers and I don’t have the codes for all of them — then I recommend that, first, you contact the seller and complain. Then, email me and ask for help, at [email protected]. You can also try the QR Codes for other sets until you find one that is close enough, or create your own — it only takes a few minutes.

Okay, you now have a Google Cardboard QR Code.

Now open the Google Cardboard app and click on the three dots in the top right corner of the screen.

Cardboard - Switch Viewers 1 -- with arrow

That brings up the settings menu.

Cardboard - Switch Viewers 2 -- with arrow

Click on the first option, “Switch viewer.”

Cardboard - Switch Viewers 3 -- with arrow

This activates your phone’s camera. Point the camera at a picture of your QR Code. If you use our QR Code page, click on the QR Code first to open up the image, so that it’s the only QR Code on your computer screen.

Cardboard - Switch Viewers 4

You should then get a confirmation message.

Where to get VR apps

You can run any of the apps that are recommended in the Google Cardboard app.

There is also a list of VR apps that Google recommends on its featured Cardboard Apps page.

WeArVR screen 2

There is also a large catalog of VR apps for both Android and iPhone, as well as other VR platform, at They also have ratings and lists of recommended apps in various categories.

AppZoom also offers a complete list of all Google Cardboard applications for Android and iOS, which you can sort by popularity, user rating, price, and other features.

Finally, you can search for the keyword “VR” on either app store.

The most popular app for Cardboard users is YouTube. Here is how to watch YouTube videos in VR.


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Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China. Follow me on Twitter @MariaKorolov.

17 Responses

  1.' Steve Luigi says:

    When using a VR headset with Google cardboard, you need to set up the cardboard program by looking at certian images in the program, and then clicking the magnet which comes with a Google cardboard viewer. Many headsets I have looked at, and one that I bought a ‘Levin’, don’t have a magnet. What should you do in this case?

    • To set up the headset, download the Google Cardboard app from the app store, click on the settings menu (three dots at the top right) and select your viewer.

      Then pull up the viewer’s QR code on the screen.

      The Levin looks a lot like a rebranded VR Kix, so this QR Code should work:

      My full list of QR Codes is here:

      You do all this BEFORE you put the headset on. So you don’t need any magnets or buttons for this step.

      Now that you have your headset set up, you can pull up YouTube and watch any video in VR by starting the video, clicking on the little cardboard icon to switch to side-by-side VR view, then place the phone inside the headset. Then just take the phone out when you’re done, or you want to switch videos. (I know, there’s no VR interface yet — it’s coming!)

      If you want to play other apps, some will have a look-to-activate interface. You get a little dot or cross-hairs and you move your head until you line it up with a sign or a lever or a door or whatever and then stare at the same spot until it triggers the interaction (starts the game, opens the door, etc…) Most museum and virtual tour apps, for example, are look-to-activate.

      Finally, if you’re playing an interactive game that requires a button, and if you have an Android phone, get a Bluetooth controller. Here is the one I have:

      I haven’t found any controllers yet that work with the iPhone.

      The other thing you can do is either buy a headset with a button (there are several) or an open-sided headset:

      I plan to do a story on all the headsets with buttons soon, but the main ones are the Mattel View-Master, all the Cardboard V2 headsets, Dscvr, Powis, BoboVR Z4 (though the button sometimes has issues — they’re working on fixing it).

  2.' Steve Luigi says:

    Thank you for your help

  3.' Huda Yaqub says:

    hi i need someone to help me to find a project for image processing

  4.' Steven Camacho says:

    Hi, I got VR goggles from cotton on and it does not have a qr code. which is the closest goggles to it?

  5.' arceus45 says:

    I look for a qr code for the “vr an lai shun”

  6.' Anders Olsson says:

    I just got a Denver VRC-22 and can’t find the QR-code anyware 🙁 Do you know which one it is?

  7.' Richard Bivens says:

    I got a vr headset called the hypervision 3d and it doesnt have a qr code can you help me id greatly appreciate it

  8.' ReneArreolaArt says:

    I just got a Utopia 360 vr2. I get that I can see all around whether its a game or video, but it isn’t “immersive”. It just looks like I’m looking around through a square “hole”. Is it supposed to look like that? I’ve tried games and youtube videos, all the same. Is there something I’m missing?

    • You’re always going to have some amount of the “ski goggle” or “scuba mask” effect. To mimize it, look for a headset with a large field of view.

      Is your headset this one:

      If so, it’s a clone of the older Shinecon headset, with one of the smaller fields of view around. This general category of headsets has fields of view of 80 to 90 degrees or so. Other headsets — including ones even in the same price range — have fields of view of up to 120 degrees.

      The reason some people prefer to buy headsets with smaller fields of view is that they have a low-resolution video screen on their phone. With a low-res display, a wide field of view means that you can see individual pixels, this is called the “screen door effect” and that’s not particularly great for immersion, either. With a high-res display, you’ll get less of the screen door effect, and can use a headset with a wider field of view.

      You might also have the incorrect settings on your phone, so that the picture is smaller than it should be. Use the Sites in VR app to play with the settings to get a better display, that uses the entire screen on the phone, instead of just giving you two small ovals.

      Good luck!

  9.' Ron Schoch says:

    I have a Neutab 2nd Generatione headset. There’s no button. How do I click?

    • Many mobile VR headsets don’t have buttons. If you have an Android phone, you can get a little remote for a couple of bucks on Amazon. If you have an iPhone, you’re out of luck.

      However, most VR apps these days don’t use a button, instead having a look-to-activate functionality. For example, some apps have you navigate by looking down at your feet to start and stop walking, or stare at a particular sign or hotspot to activate some other functions. Many of the most popular apps, including YouTube, don’t have any interactivity at all — you load up the video, switch to VR view, then put the phone in your headset to watch it.

  10.' Daniel Bax says:

    Hi. In buy an “vr goggles A.I.&E batch no: 2039892”. I can’t see inside. My eyes still cross!!! It haven’t a qr code. I try different one,but can’t see well