How to copy and paste from a photo or video

Have you ever wished you could extract text from photos and videos? Apps like Google lens and Office Lens offer a certain level of interactivity, but thanks to a useful touch of artificial intelligenceiPhone and iPad owners (and Mac users) have built-in support with Live Text.

Introduced in iOS 15, the feature lets you point your device’s camera at a sign, document, or other physical object and extract text from the image (supported languages ​​include English, Chinese, French, Italian, German, Portuguese and Spanish). It even works on images stored in your camera roll and on websites that contain images with text. With the upgrade to iOS16you can also extract text from video and even grab objects from photo and video captures.


How to get live text

update the operating system

Want to use Live Text? You will need one of the latest iPhone and iPad models. This includes all iPhone 11, 12, and 13 models, as well as iPhone XS and XR (sorry, iPhone X owners).

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro model (3rd generation or later), 11-inch iPad Pro model (all generations), iPad Air (3rd generation or later), iPad (8th generation or later), and iPad mini (5th generation or later) are all supported.

You also need to be running at least iOS 15 or iPadOS 15 to use Live Text. Go to Settings > General > Software Update and you’ll be told iOS is up to date or asked to download an update. If you want the latest features, such as the ability to enter live text from video and objects from both, you’ll need iOS 16 or iPadOS 16 (this last one is still in beta at time of writing).

enable live text

Finally, before trying to use Live Text, make sure the feature is enabled. Go to Settings > General > Language & Region and turn on the switch next to Live Text if it is off.


How to copy text

copy text from photo

To copy text from an existing photo, launch the Photos app and open a photo with text. Tap any word in the text until it is selected and a menu appears above it. Drag the circular grab points around all the words you want to capture, then tap Copy to enter text.

You can also touch Select all to highlight all visible text in the image, then tap Copy to grab it. Now open the app where you want to paste the captured text, tap on the right place and choose Dough from the menu.

copy live text

If you need to enter text from a sign, document, or other physical object, point your phone’s camera at the item. Press the yellow scan button that appears in the lower right corner of the viewing screen. Now select the text you want to capture. Press the selection and press Copythen paste the text into the application of your choice.

copy web text

You can copy text from an image on a website by simply tapping on the image. From the context menu, choose the Show text option, which selects the text. Tap the selected text to see the Copy command. You can then copy and paste the text.

The only downside to copying text from an image is that you may need to reformat the pasted text, including adding or removing paragraph returns. Otherwise, Live Text AI generally does a good job of copying text correctly.

copy and paste video text

To copy text from a video, pause the video at the frame that contains what you want to capture. Tap the text until it is selected. In the menu, drag the grab points to select all the words you want, then tap Copy. You can then paste the text into the application of your choice.

You can also copy text from a live video by capturing a still image. While shooting video, press the white shutter button in the bottom corner to take a photo of the current scene.

After shooting the video, open your Photos library, find the photo you captured from the live video, then isolate and copy the text as shown in the section above.


How to call a phone number

picture phone call

You can make a call from a phone number displayed in an image. Open the image, then tap the number and tap the Call [number] menu option to make the call.

live text phone call

You can also point your device’s camera at a phone number if it’s listed on a panel and make a call from there. Open the Camera app and point to the image. Tap the yellow scan button in the lower right corner. Tap the displayed phone number, then tap the number to make a call.

online phone call

To call a number in a photo or image on a website, tap the number. Tap the displayed phone number to call it. You can also do this from recorded video. Freeze the video to the frame that contains the number. Tap the number and tap it to make the call.


How to send an email

photo by e-mail

Sending an email via an address displayed in an image works the same way. To use an existing photo, tap the address and tap New email message to compose and send your e-mail.

To use an address on a sign, poster, or other physical item, point your camera at the object and press the yellow scan button. Tap the address to send your email. You can also select an email address displayed in a photo on a website by tapping on it, then choosing the displayed address to compose your email.

For a video recorded with an email address, pause the video when the address appears, tap it, and then tap the address.


How to translate text

translate photo text

To translate text from a photo in your library, open the image and tap the text to select it. Press the right arrow in the menu and select the Translate ordered. On the Translate screen, tap Change languagethen touch the To play button to listen to the original text and the translation.

translate live text

You can also translate text from a physical object by pointing your iPhone camera at the object and pressing the yellow scan button. Tap the text and tap the Translate command, then change the translated language if necessary.

translate web text

To translate the text displayed on a photo or image on a website, tap it and select the displayed text. Press the Translate command to see and hear the result.


How to open a web search

online photo search

You can search the web directly from a photo or video. For an image on your device, tap the text and select the Look for ordered. You will then see several websites, courtesy of Siri Suggestions. Tap the result you want to open the page.

To search for text on a physical object, point your iPhone camera at the item and press the yellow scan button. Tap text, tap Look for, then select the site you want from the results. You can also search for text in a photo on a website if you tap on it and select the Look for ordered.


How to convert currency

Convert currency from photo or video

If you take a photo or video that displays a foreign currency, you can sometimes convert it to the default currency set on your mobile device. To do this, take the photo (or shoot the video), then tap the foreign currency. If it works, you should see the amount converted to your own country’s currency.


How to use visual search

Drag and drop a person from a photo or video

Using a feature called Visual search, you can drag and drop a person or object from a photo or video into another app. The drag and drop part works best on an iPad where you can multitask and display more than one application at a time.

Open a photo or video image containing the subject you want to capture, then open another app such as Mail in a Split View setup. Tap the subject and start dragging it to the other app. The subject should separate from the rest of the image. You can then drop the figure into the other app and it will appear without the original background.

Copy and paste a person (or chat) from a photo or video

You can use the same Visual Look Up trick on an iPhone, but this time you’ll rely on copy-paste and sharing instead of drag-and-drop. Open the photo or video frame with the subject you want to copy. Tap the subject and you should see a white line moving around the subject with a menu of commands.

Faucet Copy in the menu, then paste the topic into another application. Otherwise, press the To share and select the person or app you want to share the cutout with.

Jack C. Nugent