The ability to copy-paste items (text, media, documents, etc.) between places is one of the most useful functionalities of any computer system. Irrespective of what operating system is in use, the functional element remains the same. And based on your preference — GUI or CLI — can be performed seamlessly. However, one application where it fails is when you need to capture text from an image or any other visual document. In the case of images, it is quite obvious why you cannot extract text by highlighting it. But, when it comes to other kinds of visual documents, most of them have the selectable attribute disabled to prevent viewers from using the text on them.

textsniper (capture text from visual documents)

As a result, if you work with media or often find the need to copy the text in images or some other documents, you have to look at third-party OCR apps that provide such a functionality. While there are several options out there, if you are a Mac user and want a minimal and easy-to-use utility, you can use TextSniper to capture text from images or other visual documents.

What is TextSniper, and how does it work?

TextSniper is a text recognition (OCR – Optical Character Recognition) utility that lets you capture unselectable text. You can use it to extract text from images, videos, and other visual document types such as PDFs, presentations, screencasts, screenshots, webpages, etc. It is part of Setapp: a subscription-based service from MacPaw that includes a host of utilities for iOS and macOS applications like Ulysses, Newton, CleanMyMac X, CleanShot X, Keysmith, Remote Mouse, AnyTrans, and more. TextSniper also got featured on ProductHunt — a product discovery platform — and made it to their product of the day list.

textsniper working

Talking about its working, TextSniper requires you to press a hotkey (keyboard shortcut) to trigger the utility, after which it gives you a crosshair to select the text in any visual document. As soon as you do that, the app automatically captures the selected text and saves it to the clipboard, which you can then paste wherever you want.

How to setup TextSniper?

To get started, head over to Setapp’s website and download Setapp on your Mac. Alternatively, you can directly get TextSniper from the App Store. However, if you go that route, you do not get a 7-day trial.

setapp textsniper

When you download Setapp from the website, it is downloaded as a ZIP (.zip) file. To view what is inside this file, you need a zip tool to unzip it (downloaded file). Once that is done, you need to head over to the folder where you unzipped the file and click on the to run it. You will now get a pop-up asking you to enable access to Setapp. Head over to your Mac’s Security and Privacy settings and allow access to Setapp.

setapp textsniper

Next, you need to sign in to your account on Setapp. If you do not have an account, create one from their website. Once signed in, go back to the Setapp, search for TextSniper, and click on the Install button. Now, similar to how you allowed access to Setapp the first time, follow the same steps to enable access for TextSniper.

How to use TextSniper?

One of the best things about TextSniper is that it is pretty easy and hassle-free to use. To capture text from any image or visual document, all you need to do is follow a few steps.

textsniper (capturing text from image)

1. Run the TextSniper app. [It does not appear in the dock. Instead, it lives in the menu bar.]

2. With the app running in the background, head over to the image or document (PDF, presentation, webpage, etc.) and hit the command-shift-2 keys.

3. When TextSniper is triggered, you get a crosshair. Use this to select the text you want to extract from an image or document.

4. Finally, head to where you want to add this text and hit the command-v shortcut to paste it.

Additional features of TextSniper

While you can hit the hotkey to enable capture mode, TextSniper also offers a few more capture modes to serve your additional requirements. These include:

  • Keep Line Breaks: used to add line breaks to your captured text.
    Hotkey: command-L.
  • Additive Clipboard: helps you capture text from multiple sources and paste all of them at once, kind of like history to your clipboard.
    Hotkey: command-H.
  • Text to Speech: as the name suggests, this mode translates the captured text from any visual document into its equivalent speech.
    Hotkey: command-S.

Last but certainly not least is the ability to change the capture text shortcut. By default, this is set to command-shift-2. However, if you use a lot of hotkeys on your Mac and have conflicting shortcuts with that of the default TextSniper hotkey, you can change it to your preferred one. To do this, with the app running, click on the (TextSniper) app icon in the menu bar, select Preferences, and click on the Shortcuts tab.

textsniper changing shortcut

From here, tap on the field next to Capture Text and add your preferred keyboard shortcut combination. You can also do this for other capture modes as well. In addition, there is also an option to assign a shortcut to stop text-to-speech playback. And that is it.

textsniper changing shortcut

TextSniper is available as a paid app — coming in at $6.49. However, it does offer a 7-day free trial through its website, so you can check it out before spending your money. Unfortunately, though, the utility is available only on Mac (running Catalina or BigSur). So, if you a Windows user, you have to look at some other utilities.

Get TextSniper

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