Advances in technology make it easier for you to do new things all the time. One such technology you’ll enjoy as an Apple user is Live Text. With it, you can grab text from an image and interact with it, allowing you to copy, translate, look up, or share the text quickly and easily.
What Is Live Text?
Using on-device intelligence, you can use Apple’s Live Text feature to interact with the text you see in photos and videos.
According to Apple, there are several things you can do:
- Copy text: copy text to paste into another app, such as Notes or Messages.
- Select all: select all the text within the frame.
- Look up: show personalized web suggestions.
- Translate: translate text.
- Search the web: look up the selected text on the Web.
- Share: share text using AirDrop, Messages, Mail, or other available options.
In addition, you can call phone numbers, send email to email addresses, or add those details to your Contacts. You can also visit a website, view an address in Maps, check a flight status, and track deliveries.
You can easily and almost effortlessly perform many actions using Live Text, making it one of the most useful photo and video features on your Apple device.
Live Text Requirements
To use Live Text with photos and videos on your Apple device, be sure you have one of the following device models.
- iPhone SE, 2nd generation and later
- iPhone XR, XS, or XS Max
- iPhone 11, Pro, Pro Max, or later
Note: iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 13 mini are also supported. You must be running at least iOS 15 for photos and iOS 16 or later for videos.
- iPad mini, 5th generation or later
- iPad, 9th generation or later
- iPad Air, 3rd generation or later
- iPad Pro 11-inch, all generations
- iPad Pro 12.9-inch, 3rd generation or later
Good to know: you must be running at least iPadOS 15.2 for photos and iPadOS 16 or later for videos.
On Mac, you’ll need to be running at least macOS 12 Monterey for photos and macOS 13 Ventura or later for videos.
Tip: be sure to check feature availability for your country or region on the Apple Support sites for iOS and macOS.
How to Enable Live Text
To use the Live Text feature, make sure the setting is enabled on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac using the steps below.
Enable Live Text on iPhone and iPad
- Open the Settings app and tap “General.”
- Select “Language & Region.”
- Turn on the toggle for “Live Text.”
Enable Live Text on Mac
- Open System Settings using the icon in your Dock or Apple icon in the menu bar.
- Choose “General” and select “Language & Region.”
- Turn on the toggle for “Live Text.”
Good to know: you can use accessibility controls on Mac to experience Live Text using alternative audio, visual, or motor input methods.
How to Use Live Text for Photos on iPhone and iPad
On your mobile device, easily use Live Text while viewing pictures in the Photos app. You can also use it with the Camera app or an image you see on a website in Safari. The key is to look for the Live Text icon.
Using Live Text in the Photos App
The Photos app is probably the easiest place to use Live Text on your iPhone or iPad. Maybe you snapped a photo of a billboard, sign, or brochure. Open the Photos app to view the image.
- Select a photo so that it’s in full view and tap the Live Text icon in the lower-right corner.
- You’ll see the icon highlighted in blue with a few quick actions to choose from, depending on the type of text in the photo. For instance, you may see a website or phone number pop up at the bottom. You can also tap “More” to see additional suggestions. Simply select the item to interact with it, such as visiting the website or calling the number.
- To interact with other text, tap, then drag your finger over it using the grab points at the beginning and end of the highlighted portion.
- When the toolbar appears above the text, you can copy the text, select all text in the image, look up the text on the Web, translate it, or share it. Use the arrows on the right and left of the toolbar to view all of your options.
- After you finish working with the text, tap the Live Text icon to turn it off and return to the original view.
Tip: similar to Google Lens, Apple’s Live Text supports reverse image search. You can use Visual Lookup to search the Web for similar images and draw key facts from Siri Knowledge.
Using Live Text in the Camera App
You don’t have to take a picture to work with Live Text. You can simply place what you want to capture in your Camera frame and use Live Text from there.
- Open the Camera app and get the item in focus.
- Move your device over the item until the crosshairs in the center are above the text, then tap the Live Text icon in the lower-right corner.
- You’ll see the text pop to the center of the screen. Use the quick actions at the bottom, see additional actions by selecting “More,” or use the toolbar above the text to copy, look up, translate, or share the text.
- When you finish, tap the Live Text icon to turn off the feature for the current view and return to the camera.
Using Live Text in Safari
You can also use the Live Text feature If you’re viewing a web page in Safari and want to capture the text from an image.
- Long-press the image and select “Show Text” from the shortcut menu.
- You’ll see the Live Text icon highlighted along with any quick actions you can perform at the bottom, such as “Copy All.”
- To select specific text, drag your finger through it using the grab points, then use the toolbar above the text to copy, select, look up, translate, and more.
- When you finish, tap “Done” on the top right to return to the web page.
How to Use Live Text with Photos on Mac
You may have a synced photo from your iPhone or iPad, a screenshot from your Mac, or a picture someone sent you in an email. You can use Live Text to interact with the text in Photos or Preview on Mac.
Using Live Text in the Photos App
Using Live Text with a picture in the Photos app is similar to what you would do on an iPhone or iPad.
- Open Photos, double-click the picture to put it in full view, and select the Live Text icon in the lower-right corner.
- You’ll see the various portions of text highlighted in the image. You can select a quick action or click “More” to see additional options, including visiting a website, emailing an address, or calling a phone number.
- To select specific text in the image, drag your cursor through it until it’s highlighted, then right-click or hold Control and click to open the shortcut menu of options. You can choose to look up, translate, search, copy, or share the selected text.
Tip: using Live Text is just one of the many ways that you can supercharge your shortcut menu in macOS. There are a number of useful third-party apps that will allow you to do even more.
Using Live Text in the Preview App
If you have a screenshot or similar image, you can use the Live Text feature in Preview.
- Open the item in Preview, then select the text you want.
- Right-click or hold Control and click to view the shortcut menu with options to look up, translate, search, copy, or share the selected text – the same process as using the Photos app.
- For certain types of text, like websites, email addresses, phone numbers, and tracking numbers, you’ll see a drop-down arrow appear when you hover your cursor over the item.
- Click the drop-down arrow to see actions like adding it to your Contacts, starting a call, emailing, or sending a text message.
Use Live Text for Videos on iPhone, iPad, and Mac
Using Live Text for videos on your Apple device is about the same as using it for photos. When you pause a video you’re watching, use the Live Text icon to interact with the text. You can currently use Live Text for videos in apps like Photos and Safari. Hopefully, the feature will later become available in additional apps.
- Play the video and press the Pause button when you arrive at the spot that includes the desired text. You’ll see the Live Text icon appear in the bottom-right corner.
- Select that icon to see all text in that frame of the video highlighted. Select “Copy All” or another quick action at the bottom.
- Alternatively, select specific text using one of the methods below:
- On iPhone and iPad, drag your finger through the text using the grab points, then tap and hold it or select a drop-down arrow.
- On Mac, use your cursor with the grab points to select the text, then right-click, hold Control and click, or select a drop-down arrow.
- Choose one of the available actions to copy, translate, look up, share, or search for the text on the Web.
Tip: if you’re watching a video in Safari on Mac, like on YouTube for example, put the video in full-screen mode to display the Live Text icon and interact with the text as shown above. Note that if you have installed Safari on Linux, Live Text will not be available.
For more, take a look at how to enable Live Captions on iPhone, iPad, and Mac.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I disable Live Text?
To disable Live Text, you can reverse the steps you used to enable it. On iPhone and iPad, go to “Settings -> General -> Language & Region” and turn off the “Live Text” toggle. On Mac, go to “System Settings -> General -> Language & Region” and turn off the “Live Text” toggle.
Is there a similar feature on Android?
Android devices offer the Google Lens feature, which works similarly to Live Text. You can translate text, look up details on the Web, track packages, add people to your contacts, and more.
How does Live Text work?
In a nutshell, Live Text uses OCR, which stands for optical character recognition. This technology converts images of typed, written, or printed text into a format that can be read by machines.
Image credit: Pixabay. All screenshots by Sandy Writtenhouse.
Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox