How to Use ‘Live Text,’ the Best New Feature in iOS 15

How to Use ‘Live Text,’ the Best New Feature in iOS 15
Photo: Khamosh Pathak

There’s a lot going on in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, from small features like Background Sounds to banner features like FaceTime SharePlay. But the one feature that’s going to have a huge impact on your day-to-day life is Live Text.

If you’re using a compatible iPhone or iPad (any device that is running an A12 Bionic chip or higher), your device will automatically and reliably use Optical character recognition (OCR) to pull text from the iPhone viewfinder, Photos, Screenshot, Quick Look, and Safari — and it will even transcribe handwritten text for you.

How to scan and copy any text using the iPhone camera

Live Text is a really simple feature that will be automatically enabled on your iPhone after you upgrade to iOS 15. To try it out, find some text out in the real world (a book, a billboard, or a menu), and point your iPhone camera toward it. A Live Text button will appear in the bottom-right corner, along with a yellow border around the text area. Tap the Live Text button to enter the text recognition mode.

The iPhone or iPad will highlight the area with the text, and you can tap on the text to select it. From the popup, tap the “Copy” button to copy the text; now you can paste the text into any app.

Screenshot: Khamosh PathakScreenshot: Khamosh Pathak

If you’re looking at something that’s actionable, like an address or phone number, you’ll have the option to navigate to the address or place a call. And yes — this all works for handwritten notes or signs, as well.

How to copy any text from a photo on iPhone

Once you upgrade to iOS 15 or iPadOS 15, Apple will scan all the photos in your library for text. This text OCR is done in the background, and it’s ready to go when you are.

When you open a photo that contains text, you’ll see the familiar Live Text icon in the bottom-right corner. Again, tap on the icon to highlight all selectable text, and you can now select and copy the text you want.

Screenshot: Khamosh PathakScreenshot: Khamosh Pathak

In fact, the Live Text feature is so good, you can swipe on text in a photo, and the Photos app will start selecting the text for you — no need to tap the Live Text button. You can then copy or share the selected text to any app you want.

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