How to Use Live Text on iPhone in iOS 15

Retrieve information from photos easily with OCR!

by: - Last updated on: October 15th, 2021
Key Takeaways
  • Live Text in iOS 15 is a nifty feature that helps you identify text within photos.
  • Using it, you can copy text from photos to paste on other apps, translate it into another language, look it up on the internet, or contact (call/message/email) the identified phone number or email address.
  • Live Text also works in iPadOS 15, so you can also use the feature on your iPad.

With iOS 15, Apple has introduced plenty of exciting and useful features to the operating system to add more functionality and enhance the experience on the iPhone. Live Text is one such feature that helps recognizes text within photos and allows you to perform various operations with/on it across different apps.

live text on iPhone

According to Apple, Live Text can identify different kinds of information within photos (including screenshots) you capture or images you save off the internet. So you can click on a word to look up its definition, tap on an email address to send an email, or click on a phone number to make a call or send a message.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to use Live Text on your iPhone. [These steps can also come in handy if you’re using an iPad running iPadOS 15.]

Steps to Use Live Text in iOS 15

Live Text requires iPhone XS, XR, or a later model to work. And of course, it goes without saying that to be able to use Live Text on any of these compatible iPhones, you need them to be running iOS 15.

With that out of the way, follow the steps below to enable Live Text on your iPhone:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Go to General > Language & Region.
    enabling Live Text in iOS 15
  3. Toggle on the icon for Live Text.
    enabling Live Text in iOS 15

Once you’ve enabled Live Text, the following sections describe how to perform various Live Text operations on your iPhone.

Live Text: Copy Text Within a Photo

Highlighting text within a photo you capture using iPhone’s camera or save from the internet is a nifty feature that can come in handy when you want to capture text from images and paste it into another app or share with someone.

Follow the steps below to copy text within a photo:

  1. Go to the Photos app and open a photo. You can also do this with an image online or on handwritten text.
  2. Tap and hold a word and use the grab points to adjust your selection. To select all the text in a photo, hit Select All in the context menu. Alternatively, tap on the indicator icon on the lower-right corner of the screen to select the entire text in an image.
  3. Click Copy to copy the text.
    using Live Text in iOS 15
  4. Open the app in/through which you want to paste/share the copied text, tap and hold the text field, and select Paste to paste the copied text there.

Live Text: Translate Text Within a Photo

One of the most useful applications of Live Text is to translate text in an image to a different language. If you’ve got an image in the Photos app that has text written in some foreign language, you can translate it easily with Live Text. Not just that, you can also point the Camera to some text to translate it into another language in real-time.

To translate text using Live Text, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Photos app and select the photo whose text you want to translate. Alternatively, you can also select an image online. Or, open the Camera app and point at the text you want to translate.
  2. Tap on the text and use the grab points to adjust your selection. If you want to select all the text, either select the Select All option that appears in the contextual popup menu, or click on the indicator icon on the bottom-right corner.
  3. Select Translate. If you’re using it for the first time, hit Continue.
    using Live Text in iOS 15
  4. Tap on the Choose Language button and select the language to which you want to translate the selected text. In case a language is missing, tap on Manage Languages and download the language data required for processing.

At the time of writing this guide, Apple is supporting Live Text translation in English, Chinese, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, and Spanish languages.

Live Text: Look Up Text on the Web

Much like pasting or translating the selected text within a photo, you can also look up its meaning/definition on the internet to learn more. Follow the steps below to look up a word:

  1. Open the Photos app and select the photo that contains the text you want to look up. Alternatively, you can also open any online image too.
  2. Tap and hold the word you want to look up.
  3. Click on Look Up in the context menu.
    using Live Text in iOS 15

If you select a single word, Live Text will open a dictionary with a definition for that word. On the other hand, if you select a sentence, you’ll see No Content Found message, with the option to search the selected text on the web. Here, tap on Search Web to find the relevant information.

Make a Call or Send a Message with Live Text

Lastly, with Live Text on iOS 15, Apple also offers you the ability to make a call or send a message or email to a phone number or email address in a photo. So, if you want to quickly make a call or text (or email) someone from a banner or contact card, you can do so using the following steps:

  1. Go to Photos and open the photo with a phone number or email address in it. Alternatively, open Camera and point it to the phone number or email address you want with which you want to connect.
  2. Tap the phone number or email address to select it.
  3. Select Call or Send Message option if you want to perform either. If it’s an email address, tapping on it will automatically open the Mail app. [In some instances, you might also see an option to make a FaceTime call or add the selected number to your Contacts.] using Live Text in iOS 15

Capturing Text Within Photos Made Easy With Live Text

As you’ve already seen, the Live Text OCR feature in iOS 15 opens doors to several new useful functionalities that were otherwise missing on the iPhones.

So now, you can easily identify the text within an image and perform various operations on it: everything from pasting the selected text onto another app and looking up its meaning to translating it to another language and contacting (call/message/email) the identified phone number or email address.

FAQs About Live Text on iPhone and iPad

1. Which iPhones support Live Text?

According to Apple, anyone with an iPhone XS, iPhone XR, or later running iOS 15 can use Live Text.

2. Does iPhone 7 or iPhone 8 have Live Text?

No. iPhones older than iPhone XR lack the necessary hardware and processing power needed for Live Text.

3. Does Live Text work on iPad?

Yes. As we mentioned earlier, you can use Live Text on your iPad. As per Apple, Live Text is compatible with the following iPad models:

  • iPad mini (5th gen or later)
  • iPad (8th gen or later)
  • iPad Air (3rd gen or later)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (all gen)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd gen or later)

Of course, all of these iPads also need to be running iPadOS 15 to be able to use Live Text.

4. How to enable Live Text on iPad?

Enabling Live Text on iPad requires you to follow the same set of steps as you do on an iPhone. For detailed instructions, refer to the steps under the How to Use Live Text in iOS 15 section.

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