How to use Live Text on iPhone and iPad

Scanning a document having text in an iPhone screen

Apple introduced Live Text with iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, which implements the OCR (Optical Character Recognition) feature to recognize, copy, and use text from images or live scenarios. With iOS 16, you can scan texts from images on web pages in Safari.

So, what exactly is Live Text, and how can you use it on your iPhone and iPad? Join me as I dig deep into this new iOS feature and also help you with how you can use it on your iPhone.

What is Live Text?

Live Text is a smart, integrated OCR feature available for iPhones and iPads running iOS 15 and later. It recognizes and digitizes the text in photos. The scanned text can be used in several ways, from copy-paste to a web search.

Apart from that, Live Text also boasts the following features:

  • Unlocks rich and useful information: All the text is treated as a rich result. It means that it recognizes phone numbers, emails, and addresses and allows users to take actions like calls, messages, emails, etc., directly by tapping the text.

    Unlocks rich and useful information using Live Text on iPhone
  • Live Text translation: The feature recognizes up to seven different languages – English, Chinese, French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Portuguese. For devices running iOS 16/iPadOS 16 or later, Live Text now supports Japanese, Korean, and Ukrainian.
  • Continuity support: A great thing about the Apple ecosystem is that you can select, copy, and paste text across any Apple device.
  • Spotlight search: Since it is well integrated into the system, Live Text is also employed by Spotlight search to text in your photos and serve results accordingly.

Now, all of this opens the door to multiple use cases, from digitizing handwritten notes to scanning a number/address on the run and capturing recipes or receipts to exploring more about a restaurant in the picture.

New things added to Live Text with iOS 16

Other than that, Live Text iOS 16 also gets the following features:

  • Live Text in videos: You can now use the Live Text feature even in videos. We will be looking in detail at this feature in the later part.
  • Quick actions: The Data detected in photos and videos can be used to perform actions. You can track flights or shipments, add events to the calendar, translate foreign languages, convert currencies, and more. We will be looking at this in the later part of this guide.

Live Text supported devices

While a super handy feature, not all iOS, iPadOS, or macOS users can take advantage of it. To run the Live Text feature on your device, you must have:

  • iPhone with A12 Bionic or later and iPad running iPadOS 15 or later.
    • iPhone XS and later
    • iPad Pro 2020 and later
    • 5th generation of iPad Mini
    • iPad Air 2019 or later
    • iPad 2020
  • M1-powered Mac running macOS Monterey or later.

How to recognize text using iPhone camera

  1. Launch the Camera app.
  2. Direct the camera towards the text you want to capture.
  3. Tap the generic area of text.
    You’ll observe a yellow bracket forming around it.
  4. Now, tap the Live Text icon at the page’s bottom right.

    Steps to recognize text using Camera on iPhone
  5. Select the text you want, and you can:
    • Copy the text on the clipboard and paste it as per need.
    • Select All to select all the text and characters in the image.
    • Look Up to search for the selected text on the web.
    • Translate to convert the text into a supported language.
    • Share… to send the text via Messages, email, WhatsApp, or any other app.

How to copy text from images

  1. Open the Photos app and select a photo.
  2. Tap the Live Text icon at the page’s bottom right.
  3. Move your fingers across the text to make a selection.
  4. Now, Copy-paste, Look Up, Translate, or Share the text.
How to detect text from Photos using Live Text on iPhone

Select text from videos using Live Text in iOS 16

With iOS 15, users could select text from images, and with iOS 16, you can now extract text even from videos. Let’s look at the steps on how to use LiveText on videos on the Photos app on iPhone.

  1. Open the Photos app and open the video.
  2. Pause the video on the text you want to extract.
  3. You might spot the Live Text icon on the bottom-left of the screen. Tap the Live Text icon.
  4. If you want to copy all text, tap Copy All from the bottom right.
  5. To do more, or if you didn’t see the Live Text icon, long-press any word to select and invoke an Options menu. Drag the blue dot to increase or decrease the selection.
  6. From the Options menu, you can tap:
    • Copy
    • Select All
    • Look Up
    • Translate
    • Search Web
    • Share
Scanning text from a video on an iPhone using Live Text

Besides, in the Photos app, you can also extract texts from videos in Safari, Quick Look, and more. We have made a guide on how to use Live Text on iPhone and iPad.

What if Live Text is not working in videos?

If you can’t see the Live Text icon, tap the Timeline and move the slider forward and backward. You can also long-press any word in the freeze-frame. If these don’t work, check the video resolution, text visibility, size, or alignment.

How to scan texts from web page images in Safari

Yes, apart from the images and texts, you can also scan images on web pages. Here’s how:

  1. Visit any web page that has an image with text.
  2. Tap and hold the image from where you want to select text.
  3. Now, tap and hold the text area of the image.
  4. Select the text you want to extract.
Scan text from an image in a webpage on Safari

From here, you can perform tasks such as Find Selection, Look up, and Translate. Besides the steps mentioned above, you can also tap and hold the image → Show Text → Select the text you want.

How to copy text from the iPhone camera in any app

  1. Launch the app of your choice; I have taken Notes, for example.
  2. Long-press the screen to invoke the floating option window.
  3. Select Text from Camera. The screen will split into two parts with the camera at the bottom.
    For iOS 16, you will see a Live Text icon.
  4. Bring the object with text in the camera view.
  5. Live View will automatically recognize the text. Then tap insert.
How to copy text from Camera in any app

Use quick actions in iOS 16

The magic with Live Text doesn’t end there. It can recognize currencies, time zones, temperatures, and dates and then convert, translate or add events to the calendar, depending on the data. This feature is available for iMessages, Notes, Mail, and Photos.   

  1. Open any app that supports Live Text.   
  2. Tap and hold the text.  
    A grey underline will appear for texts recognized by Live Text.  
  3. Select any of the options to copy/do action.  
    Depending on the metrics, this changes. 
Copy text or do action using Quick Action on an iPhone

To help you understand more, let’s see how you can add calendar events using Live Text.

Create events in Calendar using Live Text 

  1. Tap and hold the date/time.  
  2. Select Create Event or Create Reminder.  
  3. Add necessary details and tap Add
Creating an Event in Calendar using Live Text on iPhone

How to call or email directly with Live Text

  1. Launch the Camera app and direct it towards the phone number/email ID, or open the Photos app and select the image.
  2. Tap the Live View icon.
  3. Select:
    • Phone number: You can Call, Message, FaceTime, or Copy the number. With iOS 16, you can also add numbers to contact.
    • Email ID: Opens the default mail app, so you can draft and send mail quickly.
How to call or email directly via Live Text on iPhone and iPad

Note: This also works with addresses; just scan the image with Live View and tap the address. It will open in the Maps app.

Have you tested the Live Text feature yet? Share your take with us in the comment section below.

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