How to use the new Live Text feature of iOS 15?

Apple’s iOS 15 is now available in public beta; that means you can try out all of the biggest features coming to iPhone this fall today. This includes Live Text, the most technically impressive feature in the update, which lets you extract text from images, email addresses, phone numbers, and more.

Live Text works with both handwritten and typewritten text and supports English, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), Portuguese, French, Italian, German, and Spanish. It’s also important to remember that iOS 15 is still in beta; This means that Apple may or may change the way Live Text works in the coming months.

Live Text works a few different ways on iOS depending on what you’re trying to use it for and where you are in the operating system. Here are all the different ways you can use it:

with text fields

New “Text from Camera” option in the text select menu.

How does Live Text work when transferring text directly to a messaging area?

The most powerful and convenient way to use Live Text is almost any text field in iOS. When writing a text message to a friend, an email, or anything in the notes app, you can add text you copied from an image.

Once you have the text you want (see below), tapping the text field (like you did when you access the drop-down select/copy/paste menu available in iOS for years) reveals an additional option: text from camera.

Tapping this new button will open a smaller camera window where you can point to any block of text. iOS will then highlight the block of text it selected and you can release it by pressing the “add” button.

(Of course, you might want to fix things before posting or posting – Live Text is pretty good, but not great, especially when working with handwritten text.)

Live Text that pulls text from the live preview of the camera app.

Live Text in Photos app by pulling handwritten text.

in the camera app

If you have an iPhone XS or newer, you can also use Live Text in real time directly in the camera app. Open the camera app and then tap the live text button that appears in the corner of the viewfinder to get the text you can copy and paste (it opens contextually when you point it at text). You can also interact with it directly in the case of phone numbers, email addresses and links.

in photos

If you’re viewing any picture that has text in the Photos app, you can select text there and interact with it. It works just like selecting actual text elsewhere on iOS: Touch and hold the text in an image and you’ll see the familiar-looking blue highlights pop up.

Live Text “Show Text” option in Safari in iOS 15.

Live Text that pulls text from a screenshot.

on safari

Text can also be selected directly from images on the web in Safari. To get the text, tap and hold a picture and hit the “Show Text” button which will let you highlight and interact with the text there.


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