Maybe you have a business card and you want to enter the details in your directory, you may not want to type endless paragraphs of a page, or you have been sent a form to fill that you prefer to do on your computer …
Whatever the reason, you want to extract some text from an image. Apple is aware that there is unmet demand here.
The company therefore decided to add the Live Text functionality, thanks to its ability to recognize the text inserted in the images, then you have the possibility to cut and paste it, or in the case of an email address or ” a phone number, click on it to make a direct call or send an email. As its name suggests, it brings the text to life.
This feature will no doubt come in handy for you, but you don’t have to wait for the launch of Monterey, iOS 15 and iPadOS 15. Indeed, you can use it right now, and for that matter, some of the applications that offer OCR (Optical Character Recognition) functions even offer more than Apple’s Live Text.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the different OCR apps, as well as how Apple’s Live Text works once it’s launched.
The best OCR applications
First off, here are some of the best OCR apps you can use right now.
Adobe Scan : it turns screenshots, saved images, photos, business cards and even whiteboard notes into a digital file and unlocks text using OCR. This app is for iPad and iPhone.
LiveScan : this app can also extract text from images. It is available for Mac, iPhone and iPad. There is a free version which is limited to 50 characters per detection, but you can use it for as long as you want. Otherwise, you have to pay. It even has language detection options (English, French, German or Chinese). Since the free version is limited to 50 characters, you will probably find it more suitable for copying email addresses and phone numbers.
TextSniper : This Mac application can extract text from your images, scanned paper documents, PDFs and even from your videos. It costs € 9.99 on the App Store.
SnipCopy : This app for iPad and iPhone extracts text from images, PDFs and anything on the screen. The application is designed for the iPad but also works on Mac M1.
Scanner Pro, Readdle : This last app also works in iMessage. It scans a paper document and allows you to save its digital version. There is a free seven-day trial, followed by a paid monthly subscription. You can, of course, cancel the subscription at any time.
How do I extract text from an image with Adobe Scan?
We tried Adobe Scan. You can scan a whiteboard, form, document, or business card, or select a photo from your native Photos app.
If you choose to scan a document all you need to do is select the text and then copy it. The text will then be copied to your clipboard. If the text includes a phone number, you will see an option to call, and if there is an email address, you will see the option to send an email.
What is Live Text?
During WWDC 2021, Apple unveiled a series of new features that will appear in iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey. One of the most impressive was Live Text, which takes handwriting in images and converts them to text that you can then paste into documents, emails, and more. It also allows you to see a phone number in a photo and dial it directly without having to type anything.
How to Use Live Text on iPhone and iPad
To use the Live Text feature, your iPhone must be running iOS 15 or iPadOS 15. This means you can either wait for it to launch later in the year (around September, when the iPhone 13 should arrive) or sign up for Apple’s beta software program.
The latter solution is the fastest, as you can enjoy Live Text before it is released. However, be aware that beta software may contain bugs. So, unless you are very impatient, we recommend that you wait for the full version of iOS 15 or iPadOS 15 to arrive.
Live Text in the Camera app
Once you’ve installed iOS 15 or iPadOS 15, accessing the Live Text feature is easy as it’s built right into the native Camera app. So here’s what to do:
- Open the Camera app.
- Place the image you want to capture in the frame.
- Tap the Live Text option that appears at the bottom right of the image.
- Tap the text in the image and select it as you would any document.
- Select Copy from the menu that appears.
- Open the destination document, then tap Paste to see the converted text.
Live Text with photos from your library
It is also possible to convert text in existing photos. Here’s how to do it:
- Open the Photos app.
- Open the photo you want to use.
- Slide your finger over the text box in the image.
- Select Copy.
- Finally, paste the text into your destination document.
Call a phone number directly from a photo
If the image in question has a phone number, for example on the side of a building, you can use it directly from the image with the help of Live Text.
- Open image
- Zoom into the number
- Tap the Live Text button in the lower right corner of the image.
- The number should now become a link, so tap it to open the context menu.
- Select the desired option: Call, Send message, Copy, etc.
How to use Live Text on a Mac
Once you’ve updated your Mac to macOS Monterey (or via beta), you’ll be able to take advantage of the new Live Text feature. Initially, it looked like Live Text would only be available for Mac M1s, but Apple has since opened up the feature to Intels as well, though it is likely to be limited to newer models.
You won’t be able to use the Mac’s camera the same way you use the iPhone or iPad, but you can still interact with the text of images you find in the Photos app.
It’s pretty straightforward, as all you need to do is open the image, click on the text or number, and then interact with it through the menu that appears.
There are plenty of other cool features coming to macOS Monterey, including massive Safari updates, the introduction of Quick Notes and Shortcuts, and more.