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How to use Live Text to Search Photos Contents

25th September 2021

Jacob Woolcock



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As part of the new Live Text features in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 you can now search fro text in photos. Whether that’s a menu option, a phone number or perhaps a photograph of a document that you’ve taken, you can now find all of those results using Spotlight Search. Here’s how it works.

For a few years now, the Photos App has been able to work out key objects and locations from your pictures. But now it can search text as well. You can browse Photos by searching for keywords. Here’s how it works. First of all, I’m going to bring up Spotlight search by just pulling down on my Home Screen icons slightly. From here, I can type in anything I like and it will search my entire phone – now including the content of Photos as well. I’m just going to search for ‘chocolate’ because I’m feeling a bit hungry at the moment. And then as well as a few different films and things that come up, if you scroll down, you should see Photos.

Now at the moment these are photographs of chocolate because the machine learning in my phone has worked out which pictures contain that particular item – but if I tap Show More, it will then give me two distinct sections: Text Found in Photos and just Photos. Amazingly, in the time it’s taken to do that search, iOS has scanned my entire photo library and has found all these pictures with the word chocolate in there somewhere. Let’s have a look! As you can see, it’s found a bottle of gin which, for some reason, is chocolate Churro flavour. Not sure I fancy that. It’s found some 7-inch vinyl singles including the song Chocolate by The 1975. And it’s even amazingly found the words Hot Chocolate on a menu in the background of a photo of a very nice breakfast I had a while ago. And the great thing is that this recognises handwritten text as well – as you can see in these labels for a science experiment I did for school.

In fact, we can even browse more Photos that have been found by pressing Show More and then you can tap on the icon in the bottom corner to jump to that photo in the Photos app. It’s really simple but it’s a really, really handy feature. I hope you found this video helpful – if so, please do subscribe to my YouTube Channel down below where there are loads more #QuickTips for iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 waiting for you there. I’ll see you next time!

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