How to Copy Text From a Picture


Copying text from a picture might sound simple, but it can be tricky – especially if there’s an unusual layout. Whether it’s plain text, a phone number, an email, or full paragraphs, we’ve got you covered.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to copy text from a picture. No matter your browser or device, our step-by-step guide walks you through the process in a snap!

Which Free Website Copies Text from a Picture?

Like other AI tools that increase productivity, image-to-text conversion gets tasks done faster.

There are a number of free websites which extract text from images. These can be used on virtually any device with a browser application.

To pull text from an image using OnlineOCR:

  1. Click on the blue Select file button, choose the image (or the PDF file), and press Open.
  2. Choose the target language and the format you want the output to be.
  3. Click on Convert.
copy text from a picture with onlineocr

The text will be shown, as will a button that allows you to download the file locally. You can use the same service to convert a PDF file to text.

Google Lens

Google Lens makes it easy to learn how to copy text from a picture. This application is also available on Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows. In fact, because it’s built right into your phone, this is one of the most useful ways to copy text from images.

  1. In the Google Lens application, click on the image.
  2. Click on Text (pill-shaped icon in the main toolbar) and “Select all” to highlight the text in the image.
  3. Use the blue cursors to adjust the text you wish to copy.
  4. “Copy text” to your device’s clipboard.
  5. Paste the text to the application or file of your preference.
How to copy text from a picture with Google Lens

A major benefit is that this text extraction from images method works fairly well on handwritten text. However, you can expect minor errors, so be sure to review the copied text for typos.

Generative AI and the existence of more robust large language models should help reduce the amount of errors produced with this method, but it’s not perfect.

How to Copy Text a Picture Using iOS15

With the iOS 15 update, Apple allows you to grab text from images and perform amazing functions (like sending an email, translating one language to another, and making web searches).

You must update to iOS 15 or above to use the Live text feature. To do this, head into Settings > General > Software Update to ensure you have the latest version.

Note: The Live text feature is unavailable on iPhone X and older versions.

Enabling LiveText

To enable Live Text:

  1. Go to the Settings > General > Language & Region.
  2. Turn on the Live text feature.

Related: Is someone accessing your iPhone remotely?

How to Copy and Paste Words From an Image in iOS

To copy text from a picture:

  1. Open the Photos application and select the image you wish to scan.
  2. Press hold any word in the image until it’s selected. Drag the cursors to select the words you want to copy. You can also “Select All” and “Copy” to select all the text in the image.
  3. Click Copy.
  4. Open the application where you wish to paste the text.
  5. Click and hold the text box until the dialog box appears.
  6. Select “Paste.”

You can also use the same method to call a number. Similarly, if you scan a website, you can visit the link by tapping it in the menu.

Related: Looking to take your iOS to the next level? SetApp offers one flat subscription fee for dozens of useful applications!

How to Use Live Text Support for Different Languages

If the text is in a different language:

  1. Open the image. Press and hold the text to select it.
  2. Tap the arrow in the dialog box and click on “Translate.”
  3. Click on “Change Language.” You can press “Play” to listen to the text and its translation. You can also click on “Copy translation” to copy it to your clipboard.

Note: At the time of publication, Live Text only supports English, French, Chinese, Italian, Portuguese, German, and Spanish.

The Challenges of Using AI to Copy Text from a Picture

Copying text from an image happens with Optical Character Recognition (OCR). While OCR seems like a dream, it’s still a work in progress. Use well-regarded AI productivity tools to get the most out of your tech.

  1. Blurry Pics: Blurry or pixelated images are a nightmare for OCR. Be sure that the photo is clear.
  2. Fancy Fonts and Weird Styles: Imagine someone trying to read a handwritten invitation with fancy calligraphy or funky fonts.
  3. Background Noise: Patterns and a cluttered background require OCR to pick out the text from all that noise. If you’re copying text from a photo, first try to reduce the background distractions.
  4. Scribbled Handwriting: Messy, handwritten text can be like deciphering hieroglyphics. Copying text from an image is hard enough: Why add bad penmanship?
  5. Multiple Languages: Using multiple languages is like juggling numerous dictionaries at the same time. Focus on a single language.
  6. Complex Documents: Documents can be a mishmash of text, icons, logos, images, graphs, and symbols. Keep it simple.
  7. Have Patience. OCR can be a bit slow, especially when dealing with large documents. Be patient.
  8. Privacy Matters: OCR needs to be super secretive when dealing with sensitive or confidential data. Your AI helper may not want to translate your image into text.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Can I Convert Image to Text?

There are multiple ways to take text from images. The easiest way is to use an online free text extraction from an image website or via Google Lens. You can also use an image-to-text converter to extract the text from an image – with the added benefit of handwriting recognition.

How Can I Extract Text From a Scanned PDF?

To extract text from a PDF, you can use various free online websites (like Online OCR) to do it in seconds.

How to Copy Text From a Picture Using Windows?

The best way is with a text conversion website. You can upload your image or PDF file there, and the service takes care of the rest. The text will appear as soon as the process is complete.

Finishing Up

Knowing how to copy text from an image is extremely handy – especially when you’re working with PDFs or want to dial a number contained within that image. Whatever device you use, there’s an option that works for everyone!

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