Arguably the best new feature to come out of iOS 15 is Live Text (in my own humble opinion). Thanks to optical character recognition (OCR) technology, your iPhone can now easily recognize handwritten, printed, and online text in any photo, screenshot, or image on your iPhone.
Live Text is truly a work of art, and it makes life so much easier by allowing you to now scan books, translate text, copy written notes, get directions, call a phone number, and so much more — directly from your camera roll.
If you haven’t yet tried out the new feature, we’ve got everything you need to know about using Live Text on iOS 15 below.
- 1. Turn On Live Text on iOS 15
- 2. Point Camera at Text to Scan It
- 3. Choose A Photo in Your Camera Roll With Live Text
- 4. Select & Copy Live Text
- 5. Paste Live Text Elsewhere
- 6. Share Live Text Directly From Image
- 7. Quickly Get Directions to Address in Live Text
- 8. Quickly Add Dates in Live Text to Calendar or Reminder
- 9. Quickly Contact Email in Live Text
- 10. Quickly Make Call or Text Phone Number in Live Text
- 11. Look Up Live Text for More Information
- 12. Translate Live Text
- 13. Speak and Spell Out Live Text
1. Turn On Live Text on iOS 15
Although Live Text should be enabled by default once you update to iOS 15, you never know when you might encounter bugs or other issues, so it’s best to check if truly is turned on.
- Open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad.
- Next, tap on Camera.
- Finally, make sure Show Detected Text is toggled on.
2. Point Camera at Text to Scan It
The first way to use Live Text is by simply opening the Camera application and pointing your phone at any body of text. If iOS 15 scans and recognizes an address, phone number, or any other type of text, four yellow brackets will appear around the text, and a Live Text icon will show up in the bottom right corner. If you tap on it, you can view the scanned text.
3. Choose A Photo in Your Camera Roll With Live Text
Similarly, the Live Text feature also works on new and old (pre-iOS 15) photos saved in your camera roll, whether they were taken on your iPhone, shared to you via AirDrop, screenshot, or downloaded from the internet. To check if Live Text works on a photo, open the Camera app, choose a photo, and check whether or not it has the Live Text icon in the bottom right. If it does, tap on it to view the scanned text.
However, even if you don’t see the Live Text icon, you still might be able to use the Live Text feature on that image. If there is in fact text in the photo, simply press your finger down on it for a few seconds. If the text is highlighted and the editing options appear, that means that Live Text works, regardless if the icon shows up or not.
4. Select & Copy Live Text
Now that you know your image works with Live Text, the most popular option would be to select all the text and copy it to your clipboard so that you can paste it elsewhere. After hitting the Live Text icon, select the text you want to copy by pressing your finger down on it and then hitting either Copy to select the word you highlighted or Select All first, to highlight all of the text in the image, and then Copy.
5. Paste Live Text Elsewhere
If you have text copied to your clipboard from using the Live Text feature, you can paste it anywhere else. In the example below, I’ll be using the text extracted from the previous step, and I’ll be pasting it into Notes. All you need to do is press your finger down, wait until the editing tools come up, and then tap on Paste.
If you don’t want to copy and paste the text, and instead want to directly share it, you can do so within Live Text. After selecting your text, tap on the arrow in the editing tools to view more options. Now, tap on Share, which will open up the share sheet and give you options to share the text via Messages, email, AirDrop, Notes, and third-party applications.
7. Quickly Get Directions to Address in Live Text
If Live Text recognizes an address in your image, you can quickly get directions to it from your current location with a single tap. As long as the text is scannable, tap on any address within the Live Text feature to launch Apple Maps and get directions to it. If you instead press your finger down on the address, a quick actions menu will appear with more options, such as getting directions with Google Maps (and more) or adding the address to your contacts.
8. Quickly Add Dates in Live Text to Calendar or Reminder
The same can also be done with dates and times in Live Text. As long as the correct text is scannable, if you tap on it you’ll get a quick actions menu with several options, such as Create Event, Create Reminder, Show in Calendar, and Copy Event. If you decide to create an event, you’ll be asked to add more information (if you like) and then add it to your Calendar.
9. Quickly Contact Email in Live Text
You can also quickly send a message to an email in Live Text. If the email is scannable, press down on it and you’ll have the option to send an email, text message, FaceTime, FaceTime Audio, add it to contacts, and copy the email address. If you quickly just tap on the email once, it’ll automatically open up a new draft in your default email application, such as Gmail.
10. Quickly Make Call or Text Phone Number in Live Text
And finally, you can also tap on a phone number in Live Text to quickly make a call, send a text message, FaceTime, FaceTime Audio, add it to contacts, or copy it to your clipboard. Simply tap on the phone number (as long as it’s scannable) and then choose your option from the quick actions menu.
11. Look Up Live Text for More Information
If you simply want to know more about certain text in your image, such as a simple definition or information about a restaurant, movie, TV show, or band, press down on that specific Live Text and then tap on Look Up. A window with various resources will appear, which you can swipe up on to read more. If you look up a band, for example, you might see a short biography, links to their songs on Apple Music, social media, and more.
12. Translate Live Text
iOS 15 has also introduced a new feature that can translate nearly any text across the entire iPhone ecosystem, and that includes in Live Text. To translate text, highlight it, tap on the text, hit the arrow on the right to view more editing tools, and then tap on Translate. In the Translate window, you can view the translation, listen to it, copy it to your clipboard, change the language, add it to your favorites, and open it in the Translate application.
If it’s in English, you’ll have the option to translate it to Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. You can obviously translate between any of those languages as well.
13. Speak and Spell Out Live Text
Last, but not least, you also have the option to use Siri to spell out words in Live Text, or even speak them out. Choose Live Text to highlight text, tap on the text, and then hit the arrow on the editing tools to move right to view more options. If you tap on Speak, Siri will read out the highlighted text. With Spell, Siri will spell out whatever word it is that’s highlighted (only appears when a single word is highlighted).
Live Text is absolutely remarkable on the iPhone, but as it usually goes with new features, it doesn’t work perfectly. At times, Live Text has trouble scanning certain text, and if it does, the text might be incorrectly copied to your clipboard. At times, you won’t even know that Live Text is working on an image until you press down on text that might be too small for Live Text to easily scan, and so it’s up to you to test it out on every image.
However, despite these bugs and flaws, Live Text works wonderfully and has changed the way I interact with my photos. Now, with ease, I can quickly take photos of flyers out in the streets, posters on the wall, and books on my desk, to copy and share text in a way that I have never been able to. Hopefully, Live Text will continue improving as more updates come out in the near future.
What do you think about Live Text? Let us know in the comments below!
i like to write stuff.