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How to use the new iPhone Live Text OCR in iOS 15

One of the handy new features that comes with iOS 15 is the option to quickly recognize text and select, copy, paste, search, and more in the Camera and Photos app. Let’s take a look at how OCR on iPhone Live Text works from photos to screenshots and handwriting.

Live text may not be as flashy as other new features in iOS 15, such as FaceTime’s SharePlay, but it offers a lot of convenience.

Until now, you had to download a third-party app to get this functionality on your iPhone and iPad. But with iOS 15 (iPadOS 15 too), Apple includes Optical Character Recognition (OCR) as a seamless option in the Camera app, as well as for photos and screenshots you̵

7;ve already taken in the Photos app.

Here’s how Apple describes the feature:

There is so much rich information in your photos, from memorable places you’ve visited to handwritten family recipes. iOS 15 uses secure device information to help you find more in your photos, quickly find what you’re looking for, and experience special moments.

iOS 15 is currently available as a beta for developers. The free public beta of iOS 15 arrives in July,, with the official edition set for the autumn of 2021.

How to use iPhone Live Text OCR in iOS 15

In the Camera app

  • With iOS 15 In the Camera app, look for the new Live Text button (square of the viewfinder with three lines)
    • Lower right corner when in portrait orientation or bottom left in landscape
  • Look for the yellow viewfinder rectangle to appear as the camera notices text as you move your camera
  • When you have the yellow viewfinder around the text you want, tap the Live Text button so you can select, copy, search, translate, and share recognized text.
    • A text such as phone numbers, emails, dates, addresses and more. Contains live links that can be accessed by long pressing
  • If the Live Text button and the yellow viewfinder do not appear, try moving closer to the text.
  How to Use OCR on iPhone Live Text in iOS 15 - Guide

Live text even works with stylized fonts (although it confused Disney’s italic “y” for “p” in the example above).

In the Photos app

  • Live text works for photos and screenshots you’ve already taken
  • Open the Apple Photos app on iOS 15 and look for the same Live Text icon (three-row viewfinder square)
  • Tap the icon to recognize all available text in an image
  • Or you can just drag or tap to select / copy / paste / etc. text without even tapping the live text icon first

Live text and handwriting

During the main WWDC report, Apple showed Live Text recognizing handwriting. We’ve tried this too and – at least for now in the beta – it works, but the accuracy may depend on the handwriting, which is a little more legible than mine.

Here’s how Live Text works with my messy print and a little italics:

  How to use iPhone Live Text in iOS 15 - handwriting

From personal to work and many more, there are many uses for iPhone Live Text OCR. What are you excited about using the new feature for? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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