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Road to macOS Monterey - Live Text

The Road to macOS Monterey: Live Text

 macOS 12 Monterey  is expected to arrive in September or October of 2021. This series of articles is designed to not only introduce you to new or updated features of Monterey, but to be a reference for readers of The Rocket Yard once  Monterey arrives. 

There are currently three other articles in this series:

Today we’ll take a look at the new Live Text feature of macOS Monterey

What is Live Text?

Live Text is a Monterey feature that lets you interact with text in any image. Those images can be in your Photos library, in a website article, or scanned using an iPhone or document scanner. Your Mac processes each image with character and word recognition in real-time to make this possible.

Here’s an example. I went camping last month at a National Forest campground in Colorado, and I took a picture of the iconic US Forest Service sign:

Photo of a sign

Now let’s see the magic of this feature in action.

By clicking on the photo and dragging across the sign, the text is highlighted. With a right-click, I find that I can look up that text (do a Spotlight search), translate it if it is in another language, do a web search using the default search engine, copy the text, share it, or use various services to move the text to other apps.

Live Text in action.
Live Text in action. Recognized text has been highlighted in the photo and actions are available with a right-click.

How Well Does Live Text Work?

During testing, I found that Live Text worked very well on English, Spanish, and Portuguese text. Even stylized and hand-written text was usually copied and could be translated. That wasn’t the case with Russian, although that could change once Monterey ships. This sign (at Disney Animal Kingdom in Orlando, FL) mixes font sizes and styles, yet Live Text copied the text…

SEE Tigers,
Maharajah Jungle Trek


Live text at Animal Kingdom
Live Text copied this text that was of different sizes, colors, and typefaces

Live Text is very useful when looking at photos, of course. Did you take a picture of a restaurant sign or window, and you’d like to make a reservation there? Just click the phone number in the picture to call it, send a text, or save it. See something with a long web address? Take a picture of it and use Live Text to click the URL — no need to retype it.

Live Text: Also in iOS and iPadOS 15

As cool as this feature is, you’re going to want it everywhere. Apple is happy to oblige by putting Live Text as a feature in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, also expected early this fall.

Come back to Rocket Yard for more macOS Monterey tips

Live Text is just one of the new features of macOS 12 Monterey. During the month of August, I’ll help you prepare for your upgrade to Monterey by explaining these features and how they work. 

Note that user interface details change in macOS Monterey with every beta release, so what you see in the screenshots here may not be the same in the final release.

Steve Sande
the authorSteve Sande
Contributing Author
Steve has been writing about Apple products since 1986, starting on a bulletin board system, creating the first of his many Apple-related websites in 1994, joining the staff of The Unofficial Apple Weblog in 2008, and founding Apple World Today in 2015. He’s semi-retired, loves to camp and take photos, and is an FAA-licensed drone pilot.
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