There are many reasons to copy the text you see in an image. You may have a screenshot with instructions or a photo of a billboard with details. This guide includes several ways to extract text from an image, depending on your platform or device.
1. Extract Text on Windows
There are two ways to copy text from an image on Windows. You can use the OneNote built-in OCR (optical character recognition) feature or the Microsoft PowerToys tool.
Use OneNote on Windows
Open OneNote and insert the image you want to copy the text from. Select Insert -> Pictures, choose the location and image, then click Open.
With the image on your OneNote page, right-click it, and select Copy Text From Picture.
You’ll have the text on your clipboard to paste it on Windows where needed.
Use Microsoft PowerToys
Microsoft PowerToys is a Microsoft app that contains utilities like a text extractor, color picker, and image resizer. It works on Windows 10 and Windows 11, and you can install it from the Microsoft Store for free.
To enable the extraction feature, open Microsoft PowerToys, select Text Extractor on the left, and turn on the Enable Text Extractor toggle on the right. Beneath, you’ll see the Activation Shortcut you’ll use to extract the text, which you can change if you would like.
To copy text from an image, open your image using your default viewer, and use the Activation Shortcut Windows key + Shift + T. When your cursor changes to a crosshair symbol, drag through the text on your image and release.
Your text is placed on your clipboard to paste where you would like.
2. Extract Text on Mac
Similar to Windows, there are two ways to extract text from an image on macOS. You can use Preview, the default image viewer, or the Live Text feature in the Photos app. Use these methods whether you have a screenshot, captured photo, or saved picture.
Use Preview on Mac
Using Preview, double-click or right-click to open the image, move to Open With, and pick Preview. Use your cursor to select the text, right-click, and choose Copy Text.
You’ll have the text on your clipboard to paste where you would like.
Use Photos on Mac
Using Photos, follow the same process as in Preview above by using your cursor to select the text, right-click, and choose Copy Text.
You can also use the Live Text feature to copy all of the text in the picture in one click.
With the picture in full view, click the Live Text icon (square with lines) in the lower-right corner. Choose Copy All in the lower left to place all of the text on your clipboard.
Paste the copied text on your Mac wherever you would like it.
3. Extract Text on Android
If you have an Android device, copying text from a picture is easy using Google Lens.
To copy a portion of text, open your image in Google Photos, and tap Copy text at the bottom. When the image displays in Google Lens, tap and drag through the text you want, and tap Copy text.
To copy all of the text, select the Lens icon. When the image displays in Google Lens, tap Text, then Select all -> Copy text.
Using either of the above options, paste the text where you would like.
4. Extract Text on iPhone and iPad
As with macOS, you can take advantage of Live Text on iPhone and iPad to extract text from an image.
Open your image in Photos, and tap the Live Text icon in the lower-right corner. Either select Copy All for all text or tap and drag through the particular text, and tap Copy in the floating toolbar.
Paste the text where you would like it.
5. Extract Text Using Google Apps
If you use Google’s suite of productivity apps, you can use either Google Drive in combination with Google Docs or use Google Keep to copy text from a picture.
Use Google Drive and Google Docs
Google Drive offers a fantastic feature for extracting text from an image and placing it into Google Docs.
Right-click the image, or select the three dots in the corner of the image, move to Open with, and select Google Docs.
You’ll see a new Google Doc open in a different browser tab, with the picture at the top and the image text beneath.
Select and copy the text, and use it however you would like.
Use Google Keep
Google Keep offers a similar feature to Google Drive. You can grab the image text and see it below the picture in your Google Keep note.
With the image in your note, select the More icon (three dots) at the bottom, and select Grab image text.
You’ll see the text display below the image and can select, copy, and paste where needed.
For even more options, you can always fall back on an online tool. Using a web-based image-to-text converter, extract the text quickly and easily. Below are two examples of intuitive tools.
Image to Text
The Image to Text converter makes it easy to capture text from an image. Visit the site, and use drag and drop, the Browse button, or a paste action to upload your image.
Select Submit and to see the text from your image in a box to the right, then use the buttons to copy or download the text.
For a second option, check out OCR2Edit.com. Select your image from the available locations, or drop it into the rectangle. Optionally, choose a different language, or add a filter in the OCR Settings, and click Start.
Download the text or a ZIP file, upload it elsewhere, or use the QR code to obtain your image text.
7. Extract Text Using a PDF
One final method of extracting text from an image is to use a PDF document. With a PDF reader like Adobe Acrobat Reader, easily copy text from a picture. This is handy if you have a document already containing the image.
To use Adobe Acrobat Reader, open the file as you normally would, then select the text in the image using your cursor. You should see a floating toolbar automatically display. Choose the Copy Text button, or right-click the selected text, and choose Copy.
Like the earlier methods, you’ll have the image’s text on your clipboard to paste it where needed.
Copying text from almost any picture or photo is easy with the methods above. Whether you use a desktop application, website, or your mobile device, you can extract text from an image in just a few clicks or taps.
For making photos and albums easy to find, check out how to add descriptions on Google Photos.
Image Credit: Pixabay. All screenshots by Sandy Writtenhouse.
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