Live Text

The Live Text Feature in iOS and iPadOS 15 is Awesome

Live Text is bringing optical recognition to iOS and iPadOS without the need for a third-party app. Instead, this brings OCR functionality right to the built-in Camera app and to existing photos and screenshots. So what does it do? First, Live Text allows users to point their iPhones at a picture and copy and paste whatever text is present. Even more remarkable, it works on handwritten notes as well. Finally, although it doesn’t work on the iPad Camera, it works in Photos and Safari. Keep reading for more awesomeness!

What Devices Can Use Live Texts

The critical component that brings this to your device is the Apple A12 Bionic chip or better. That’s because of the processing needed for the Live Text feature.

Below you’ll find the best iPhone and iPad models with the A12 chip or later:

Make Sure Live Text is Turned On

The feature is enabled by default in iOS, but just in case it’s not.

  • Go to Settings
  • Camera
  • Toggle the feature on
  • To check the iPad go to Settings>General>Language and Region

How To Use Live Text in the Camera App in iOS15

  • Launch the Camera app
  • Point the viewfinder at something containing Text until you see a yellow viewfinder rectangle appear on the screen
  • Once the Camera App recognizes Text, tap the Live Text button. It looks like a viewfinder square with three lines inside. Check the bottom right corner.
  • The Text captured will remain on the screen. You can use the contextual popup menu to select, copy, lookup, translate and share the recognized Text.

Note: Unfortunately this isn’t available on the iPad Camera app.

Note: When you have Text recognized as phone numbers, emails, dates, addresses, etc., those become live links that can be activated through a long press.

It’s easy to use the feature directly from the Camera app to do all kinds of things with recognized Text. If you are having issues, try moving the camera closer to the Text. It should work with stylized fonts and even handwriting, though it may not always recognize characters with 100% accuracy. 

How to Use Live Text in the Photos app

  • Launch the Photos App on either iPhone or iPad
  • Look for an image containing Text and view it.
  • If it has recognizable Text, tap the  button in the bottom right corner to recognize all Text in the image.
  • You can also swipe or tap the Text in an image.
  • You can do all the Live Text features, such as select, copy, translate, look up, and share. Items like phone numbers, emails, addresses, etc., become live links that activate with a long press.

Live Text in Safari

You can select text on a web page in Safari without doing anything special. But, you can select text in images as well.

Simply press and hold on any image on a web page until the context menu pops up. Usually, you’d see options to Share, Add to Photos or Copy an image. Now you’ll see an additional option: Show Text.

Select that option, and the image will be focused, and the text will be highlighted. You can select the text by tapping and holding, then drag the selection box around the Text you want. Just as in the Camera and Photos app, it will recognize addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses.


There are lots of use cases for Live Text OCR, from personal to work and more. So what are you most excited about when it comes to Live Text? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

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