How to use live text on an iPhone with iOS 15

  • Live Text is a new feature on iPhones in iOS 15 that lets you copy and import text from photos to your device.
  • If you take or save an image that has text in it, you can use Live Text to copy and paste the text into any app on your iPhone.
  • If you have an iPhone XS or later, you can grab text just by pointing your camera at it.
  • Visit the Insiders Tech Reference Library for more stories.

It’s incredibly annoying when you want to copy text from a screenshot, but have to manually enter it all yourself.

This is where Live Text comes in – this new iOS 15 feature lets you subtract any text from photos you take or have saved on your phone. And once you have dragged the text, you can paste it into any text field. It’s great for quickly sharing addresses, phone numbers, and anything else you don’t want to type manually.

Live text works with typed and handwritten text and understands English, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), Portuguese, French, Italian, German and Spanish. It is available on any iPhone (or iPad) released in 2018 or later.

Here are three ways to use it.

How to use Live Text in the Photos app

First, you can apply live text to any photo you have saved in the Photos app. This includes screenshots, saved photos and photos you have taken yourself.

1. Open the Photos app and find an image with text on it.

2. When you open the image, a small square icon appears in the lower right corner. Press it.

An image in the iPhone Photos app.  The picture shows a sign that says "Sprint St." The square text icon is highlighted.

Touch the Live Text icon when it appears.

William Antonelli / Insider

3. The image becomes darker, except for the space around the image text. You can now interact with the text by holding down your finger to select it. Once highlighted, you can copy, share, translate it and more.

An image in the iPhone Photos app.  The picture shows a sign that says "Sprint St." The words are highlighted.

The text in the image can now be selected.

William Antonelli / Insider

If you copy the text, you can paste it into any text box on your device.

You can also do this native with images displayed on Safari sites. Just press and hold your finger on a photo with text in it to select that text.

How to use Live Text to type in any app

If you want to quickly scan text you’ve found in real life, you can use Live Text to type directly into any text box.

1. Open any app you can enter and tap a text field.

2. In the black pop-up that appears, press Scan text possibility. It can also just appear as the small square icon.

An iPhone text message screen.  That "Scan text" setting is highlighted.

You can scan text straight into an empty text box.

William Antonelli / Insider

3. Your iPhone’s camera turns on. Point it at the text you want to use, then tap Insert when highlighted.

An iPhone text message screen, but the keyboard is replaced with a camera view that points to the text in this article.  That "Insert" the button is highlighted.

Hover over the text you want to import and you will see it appear in the text field.

William Antonelli / Insider

Depending on how the text you are trying to scan is formatted, you may need to try this a few times.

How to use Live Text while taking a picture

This feature is only available on the iPhone XS, iPhone 11, iPhone 12 and iPhone SE (2nd generation) models. It lets you grab text just by pointing your camera at it.

1. Open your Camera app and point the camera at any text.

2. When the square Live Text icon appears in the corner, tap it.

3. Your device will highlight the text. You can then hold your finger on it to copy, share or look it up.

An iPhone with its camera turned on and pointed at a sheet of paper.  The text on the paper is highlighted with live text.

You can select text directly from the camera app.


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