How to copy and paste text from a photo

Apple launches the iPhone 13 in the UK at its Regent Street store on September 24, 2021 in London, England.

Ming Yeung | fake images

The latest version of the iPhone operating system, iOS 15, has several new features that use artificial intelligence to analyze the content of a photo.

While object recognition has been around for a while, Apple says its implementation differs because it happens on the device, rather than on a cloud server. In addition, it is integrated into the operating system.

One of the most useful applications of this new technology is the ability to copy and paste text from a photo; for example, users can take a photo of a page in a book and then take that text and place it in a document or Note.

It also makes it easier for users to call or send emails by recognizing phone numbers and email addresses that have been written down, just like on a business card.

It also works with handwritten text; Apple’s example when it announced the feature in June was turning scribbles on a whiteboard into notes.

Is that how it works:

Copy text from a photo

  • Take a photo with the text you want to copy into a document. For this example, we use a recipe from a cookbook.
  • Go to the Photos app and select the photo with the text you want to copy. This function also works from the camera roll, within the camera application.
  • Press the text you want to copy with your finger, just like you would in an Apple note or text message. Two text pick points should appear on the photo.
  • Stretch the text selection cursors to cover all the text that you want to copy. Press “copy”.
  • Go to the word processor of your choice, tap on the text field and paste it.

Take a text photo and drop it directly into the Notes app

Live Text works within word processors


  • The new feature also works directly in a word processor such as the Notes application.
  • Tap on the screen and choose the icon from the pop-up that looks like three lines of text in a square box. That’s the Live Text icon.
  • A camera window will appear in the lower half of the screen. Point at the text and the software will automatically recognize it.
  • The Apple software will highlight the text you want to insert into the application within the photo window.
  • Press the blue “Insert” button when the software has selected the correct text fragment.

Scan text directly from the iPhone camera

  • You can also scan text directly from the iPhone Camera app.
  • Point the camera at the words, and if the software recognizes text, it will display the three-line text icon at the bottom right of the viewfinder or at the top right horizontally.
  • Press the button. It will turn yellow and a window dedicated to the photo text will appear.
  • You can select this text and copy and paste it into any document.

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