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How to copy and paste text from a photo


Apple launches the iPhone 13 in the UK at its Regent Street store on September 24, 2021 in London, England.

Ming Yeung | Getty Images

The latest version of the iPhone operating system, iOS 15, has several new features that use artificial intelligence to analyze the content in a photo.

While object recognition has been around for a while, Apple says that its implementation differs because it happens on the device, instead of on a cloud server. It’s also built into the operating systems.

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One of the handiest applications of this new technology is the ability to copy and paste text from a photo — so, for example, users can take a photo of a page in a book and then grab that text and put it into a document or a note.

You can call or email faster by being able to recognize phone numbers and addresses from documents, such as a business card.

It works with handwritten text as well — Apple’s example when it announced the feature in June was turning scribbles on a whiteboard into notes.

Here’s how it works:

Copy text from a photo

  • Take a photo with text you want to copy into a document. We’re going to use a recipe in a cookbook as an example.
  • Open the Photos app. Select the image with the text that you wish to copy. You can also use this feature from within the camera app’s camera roll.
  • The same method as for an Apple Note or text messaging, press down on the text to be copied with your finger. On the photo, two text selector dots must appear.
  • You can stretch the cursors for text selection to include all text that you wish to copy. Then press “copy”.
  • Click on the text field and copy it into your word processor.

Take a photo of text and put it directly into the Notes app

Live Text works inside word processors


  • The new feature also works directly in a word processor like the Notes app.
  • Click on the screen to select the icon that appears as three lines of text inside a box. The Live Text icon is that.
  • This will open a camera window on the bottom-half of the screen. The software will recognize text if you point it at it.
  • Apple’s software will show you the text it intends to insert in the app.
  • When the software finds the correct chunk of text, press the “Insert” button.

Scan text directly from the iPhone camera

  • You can also scan text directly from the iPhone’s Camera app.
  • If the software recognises text, the icon will be displayed in the lower right corner of the viewfinder.
  • Click the button. The button will change to yellow, and a window with the relevant text will open.
  • Select this text to copy and paste into any document.