How To Program A Scanner

Handheld scanners make communication very fast and simple, especially for police officials. If you own handheld scanners, you can use them for a wide variety of purposes. Depending on the type of scanner you own, you can use it for communication in your school or track the IDs of your employees.

Before being able to use these scanners optimally, however, you have to program them properly. If you are fairly new to using handheld scanners and want to get a better idea of programming them, you’re in the perfect place!

Let’s take a look at how you can program the most popular scanners perfectly for your purpose.

How To Program A Police Scanner

Uniden Bearcat Scanner

Uniden Bearcat scanners are one of the most widely recognized scanners out there.

There are several models of Uniden Bearcat scanners but all of them are programmed in a similar process.

Finding The Right Frequencies
  • Enter the website This website contains all the frequencies being used, starting from FM radios to police stations. You can use any other website with the same information.
  • Click on “Frequency Database” from the “Databases” drop-down menu.
  • Select your State and County from the map of the USA on the webpage.
  • After scrolling down, you’ll find the list of frequencies being used for the Sheriff and Police, as well as for Public Safety purposes.
Preparing The Scanner
  • Open the battery compartment and ensure the right type of batteries are inserted. If you’re using an electric power supply, turn the switch ON.
  • Turn the scanner on by pressing the “Power” button. The screen should say “All Loc Out”.
Programming The Scanner
  • To put in your frequencies, hit the “Hold” or “Manual” button, depending on the model of Uniden Bearcat scanner you have.
  • Using the keypad, enter your desired channel number and press the “Hold” button again. You can enter any number from 1 to as many as your scanner is designed to store.
  • Next, check the first frequency band you need from the list of frequencies for your state from the webpage.
  • Press the orange “Func” control, followed by the “E” button. For other models, just pressing the “Manual” button will work.
  • Type the frequency exactly like in the webpage and press “E”. Select the “.” to enter decimal points.
Inserting More Frequencies
  • Turn the dial on top of the scanner once in the clockwise direction. For other models, press the “Manual” button. This will take you to the next channel.
  • Type your next frequency using the keypad and press “E”.
  • Repeat the previous two steps to store as many frequencies as you want.
  • After you’ve saved all your frequencies, you’ve successfully programmed your scanner.
    Press the “Scan” button to automatically detect active channels.

Radio Shack Scanner

Radio Shack scanners come in both handheld and flatbed forms. Programming all models follows very similar processes.

Choosing The Frequency
  • From this website, find your required frequencies by clicking on “Frequency Database” from the “Databases” drop-down menu.
  • You’ll then click on your State and County from the map.
  • This will give you access to the list of the frequencies in your county.
Setting Up The Scanner
  • Using 4 AA batteries or connecting the power cord to the power supply, turn the scanner on.
  • Press on the “PGM” button, which means the Program button.

At the bottom of the LCD screen, there will be three options. You can select these options by pressing on F1, F2, or F3 according to their position.

  • Choose the “New” option by pressing F1.
Selecting The Channel
  • If you want Conventional or Analog channels, press F2. If you want Talkgroup channels, which are used by the Police, Fire Fighters, and Public Safety, press F1.
  • Click the “Select” button and use the navigation keys to choose the Scan List number you want to save your frequencies in.
    Scan List is the same as Channel Number for our previous Uniden Bearcat scanner.
Designating The Frequencies
  • Pressing the “Select” button again will bring you to the frequency-selection part.
  • Using the keypad, type in your desired frequency from the Radio Reference webpage.
  • Click on the “F1” button once you’re done. This will store the frequencies you typed in.
Naming The Channel
  • The default name is “Channel”. Clear the channel name by pressing the “FUNC” and “CL” buttons together.
  • You have to type the name like we used to do it on old Nokia phones.
  • Firstly, press the “FUNC” button to initiate the system.
  • To type the letter “E”, first select the button that has “DEF” written on it, and then click on “2”. Follow this procedure to type any name for your channel
  • Hit on the “F1” button when you’ve properly typed in the name.
Save And Repeat
  • Press the “F1” button again to save and store the frequencies. You can access these frequencies any time you want.
  • To create more frequencies, repeat the same procedure as above, by clicking on the “F1” or “F2” buttons and selecting the required frequencies.

Whistler Scanner

Whistler scanners have a lot in common with Radio Shack scanners, since similar technologies are used in manufacturing.

Getting The Required Frequencies
  • Type in on your address bar.
  • Locate the “Databases” option and select “Frequency Databases”.
  • You should then see the map of the USA, where you should select your State and County.
  • You’ll be redirected to another page, with the frequency spectrum your County works over.
Starting The Scanner
  • Insert the required number and type of batteries or connect the scanner to the power supply.
  • Press the “PGM” button after it automatically turns on. This will initiate the process of programming the scanner.
Creating A Channel
  • Click on the F1 key on the top right side of your scanner to create a “New” frequency channel.
  • If you want to create a new conventional channel, press the F1 key again. If you want to program a Talkgroup ID, press F2.
Choosing The Channel Number
  • Using the right and left arrow keys, you can choose any channel number or “Scan List”, as this device calls it.
  • Press “Select” when you reach the channel number you want.
  • Make sure there’s a “*” beside your chosen “Scan List” number.
Putting The Frequencies In
  • Next, find the radio frequency you want to listen to. It may be of your area, or your local police, whatever you choose.
  • Enter the frequency on the scanner using the number keys.
  • Press the “ENT” button on the bottom of the scanner when you’ve properly typed in the frequency.
Editing The Channel Name
  • Press the down-arrow key to move to the “Channel” option.
  • Clicking on the Right arrow key will enable you to edit the channel name.
  • It follows the typing system used in the older cell phones. To type “N”, first press on the key that has “MNO” written on it, and then press “2”.
  • Press the “CL” key to erase any letter if you make a mistake.
  • Once you’ve finished naming, hit the “F1” button to save the name.
Saving And Accessing The Channels
  • Click on the “F1” button to save your chosen frequency in the system file.
  • To access the channel, click on the “Scan” key.
  • Click the “Scan List” number from the number keys and the Whistler scanner will access your created channel.

How To Program A Barcode Scanner

Barcode scanners are used in lots of places, from POS to checkups in your inventory. A well-programmed barcode will make your work faster and more efficient.

Installing The Scanner

  • Attach one end of the provided cable to your barcode if it’s not already attached.
  • Connect the other USB end to your computer.
  • Turn your computer on and open Notepad or Microsoft Excel.
  • The computer will automatically detect the scanner and install the device.

Programming The Scanner

  • To set a “Carriage Return” or “Tab Key” on your scanner, you can refer to the user manual that comes with the device.
    Carriage Return means the codes from the scanned barcode will be shown on the Notepad line-by-line, while Tab Key means the codes will be separated by a certain space.
  • On the user manual, find the “Add a Carriage Return” or “Add a Tab Key” barcode.
  • Scan the barcode with your scanner. The scan should make a sound that lasts a bit longer than the usual scanning sounds.

Resetting The Scanner

  • If you mistakenly scan other system codes and want to go back to the previous system, find the “Return to Default” barcode on the manual.
  • Scan the barcode. This will make a longer sound than normal usage or installing a barcode and will reset the scanner completely.


Programming scanners isn’t a very tedious job. It’ll probably take some time for you to do it the first time, but after that, you can effortlessly modify your scanner whenever you want to. Scanners make our lives much easier with the wide range of purposes they come with and having one around can be extremely useful.

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