Everything you need to know about the iPhone’s built-in text scanner

Thanks to Live Text, a feature Apple introduced in iOS 15, your iPhone likely comes with a built-in text scanner. This means you don’t need to download or pay for any third-party text scanning apps to scan and interact with text in photos or images on your iPhone.

But first let’s check if your iPhone has a text scanner as not all models support Live Text feature. Then we’ll look at what the Scan Text button does and how to use it.


Which iPhone models have a text scanner?

Although Apple’s Live Text was introduced in iOS 15, updating your device to this version is not enough to guarantee that the built-in text scanner will be installed on your iPhone. Only the iPhones that carry the A12 Bionic chip (or higher) will have this feature. That means only iPhone XS, XR and later iPhone models support Live Text.

If you’re using the iPhone X (or earlier model) and don’t have access to Live Text, don’t worry. You can check out the best scanner apps for iPhone so you can keep using your iPhone to scan text.

What does the iPhone’s built-in text scanner do?

Over the years, Apple has released new iOS features in the form of apps like Keynote and Shortcuts. However, this is not the case with the text scanner of the iPhone. Instead, the feature in many apps comes in the form of a scan text Button that displays three lines in a frame.

Just like conventional text scanners, the basic function of the scan text button is designed to allow you to have a soft copy of your text so you can edit it and make other digital changes to it. This is useful for students and professionals – no more enlarging images you took from a whiteboard and laboriously retyping the content, you can just scan and copy it.

However, your iPhone’s text scanner is not limited to digitizing words on paper. For example, you can take a picture of a foreign menu and translate the name of each food item. If you spot a term you’re not familiar with, you can use that look up Option to get direct search results.

Plus, your iPhone can even recognize the type of text being scanned. For example, let’s say you notice a poster about an upcoming event that includes the web address. As soon as you scan the poster, your iPhone will realize that the words aren’t just text, they’re a URL. By tapping the URL, your device will automatically open Safari to load the website for you.

Here’s how to use your iPhone’s built-in text scanner

You will find the scan text Button in iPhone apps like Camera, Photos, Notes, Safari and more. But for the camera app in particular, you need to go to the app settings and enable live text on your iPhone first, otherwise it won’t be able to recognize text.

Now let’s see how to scan text and use it on your iPhone.

How to scan text on your iPhone

In which camera app, just keep an eye out for the scan text Symbol. Tap the scan text icon once your text is in a yellow frame.

In which photos app, the icon is automatically available if your image is text.

However, in apps like safarithe scan text The icon will not appear on the screen immediately. When you come across an online image with words, long press on the image to access the context menu. Then select show text.

Likewise in the Remarks app you have to tap on camera icon from the menu first. Then select scan text. Next, tap the scan text Icon if your target section is included in the resulting window. Highlight the sentences you want and tap on insertion to add the text to your note.

How to use the scanned text on your iPhone

After scanning, you can generally copy, select, translate, share, or look up the text. Note, however, that these options may vary slightly depending on the app you used to scan your text.

As mentioned earlier, if your text contains elements like a web address, you can also tap it to have your iPhone take you to the appropriate app. For example, if you tap a phone number, you can call, send a message, or FaceTime the person. Tapping an email address opens the Mail app so you can send an email. Long press on the date and time to create an event in the calendar app.

How to rescan text on your iPhone

If you accidentally scanned the wrong text, just uncheck the option scan text Icon to perform a rescan. If you use the camera app, you can also tap anywhere outside of the scanned text to return to it photo Mode.

How to exit the text scanner or turn off live text entirely

To exit text scan mode, disable this scan text icon, and then tap if available X button to exit completely. If you feel that the auto text scanning feature is interfering with your camera use, you can always turn off Live Text on your iPhone when you’re not using it.

Limitations of the iPhone’s built-in text scanner

The iPhone’s built-in text scanner is an incredibly handy tool. But for now it has some limitations.

For one thing, Apple’s Live Text currently supports fewer than 10 languages. It includes only English, Cantonese, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. Although you can try to scan an unsupported language like Japanese or Arabic, the results will be very inconsistent. It can recognize text partially or not at all.

Another problem is the appearance of the scanned text. If you are scanning a large block of text that fills half a page, the formatting will not be good. Sentences are randomly inserted into a new paragraph, ignoring any existing paragraph breaks of the scanned content. You need to manually fix them yourself after the scan or try to scan a small section at a time to avoid this problem.

No need to buy a text scanner, just use your iPhone

With a smartphone, buying a text scanner as an additional gadget is an unnecessary expense if you only want to scan and edit text. You can use your iPhone’s text scanner instead. The Live Text feature is not just for copying and pasting words, you can conveniently visit websites, make phone calls and more if the scanned text contains other useful information.

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