How to use Live Text, a new iPhone feature in iOS 15 that lets you copy text from photos

Three iPhones placed side by side. All three are using the Live Text feature to import text from photos.
Live Text is coming to iPhones with iOS 15.

  • Live Text is a new feature on iPhones in iOS 15 that lets you copy and import text from photos onto your device.
  • If you take or save a picture that has text in it, you can use Live Text to copy and paste that text into any app on your iPhone.
  • If you have an iPhone XS or newer, you can grab text just by pointing your camera at it.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

It’s incredibly annoying when you want to copy text from a screenshot, but have to manually type it all out yourself.

That’s where Live Text comes in – this new iOS 15 feature lets you pull any text from pictures you take or have saved on your phone. And once you’ve pulled the text, you can paste it into any text field. It’s great for quickly sharing addresses, phone numbers, and anything else you don’t want to type out manually.

Live Text works with typed and handwritten text, and understands English, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), Portuguese, French, Italian, German, and Spanish. It’s available on any iPhone (or iPad) released in 2018 or later.

Here are three ways to use it.

How to use Live Text in the Photos app

First, you can use Live Text on any photo you have saved in the Photos app. This includes screenshots, saved photos, and pictures you’ve taken yourself.

1. Open the Photos app and find a picture with text on it.

2. When you open the picture, a small square icon will appear in the bottom-right corner. Tap it.

A picture in the iPhone Photos app. The picture shows a sign that says "Sprint St." The square Live Text icon is highlighted.
Tap the Live Text icon when it appears.

3. The picture will darken, except for the space around the picture’s text. You can now interact with the text by holding your finger down on it to highlight it. Once highlighted, you can copy, share, translate it, and more.

A picture in the iPhone Photos app. The picture shows a sign that says "Sprint St." The words are highlighted.
The text in the image is now selectable.

If you copy the text, you can paste it into any text field on your device.

You can also do this natively with pictures that appear on websites in Safari. Just tap and hold your finger on a photo with text in it to select that text.

How to use Live Text to type in any app

If you want to quickly scan text you’ve found in real life, you can use Live Text to type directly into any text box.

1. Open any app that you can type in and tap a text field.

2. In the black pop-up that appears, tap the Scan Text option. It might also just appear as the small square icon.

An iPhone's text messaging screen. The "Scan Text" option is highlighted.
You can scan text right into an empty text box.

3. Your iPhone’s camera will turn on. Point it at whatever text you want to use, and then tap Insert when it’s highlighted.

An iPhone text messaging screen, but the keyboard is replaced with a camera view that's being pointed at the text of this article. The "Insert" button is highlighted.
Hover over the text you want to import, and you’ll see it appear in the text box.

Depending on how the text you’re trying to scan is formatted, you might need to try this a few times.

How to use Live Text while taking a picture

This feature lets you grab text just by pointing your camera at it. It might not be available on some older iPhone models.

1. Open your Camera app and point the camera at some text.

2. When the square Live Text icon appears in the corner, tap it.

3. Your device will highlight the text. You can then hold your finger down on it to copy it, share it, or look it up.

An iPhone with its camera activated and pointed at a sheet of paper. The text on the paper is highlighted with Live Text.
You can select text right from the Camera app.

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How to use the Live Photo feature on your iPhone or turn them off

iphone 11 camera picture
Live Photos are easy to take on both iPhone and iPad.

  • Live Photos are still photos that turn into videos when you “activate” them on your iPhone or iPad.
  • You can take Live Photos by enabling them in the Camera app.
  • Live Photos only work on Apple devices – on non-Apple devices, they’ll just be still photos.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Technology has come a long way over the past couple of decades. All but gone are the days of disposable cameras, Polaroids, or even point-and-shoot models – these days, most of us just whip out our phones and tap a button.

If you have an iPhone or iPad, you’ve also got access to Live Photos.

Live Photos are like still photos, but when you hold your finger down on them, they “activate” and play a few seconds of video and sound. They’re like GIFs with sound, and are a fun treat when you’re looking back at your photos later. But they’ll only work on Apple devices, and if you try to play them elsewhere, they’ll just be still photos.

Here’s how to take, view, and edit Live Photos on an iPhone or iPad.

How to take a live photo on an iPhone or iPad

1. From your iPhone or iPad’s home screen, open the Camera app.

2. Make sure that Live Photos are turned on by tapping the icon that looks like a bullseye. On a new iPhone, it’ll be at the top of the screen.

If the Live Photo icon is colored yellow, that means it’s enabled. If it’s white with a line slashed across it, it’s off. You can enable or disable Live Photo at any time by tapping the icon.

On iPhone 11 and newer models, when you tap the Live Photos icon you’ll also be given an “Auto” option. This will let your iPhone decide whether or not to take a Live Photo based on how much movement it sees.

An iPhone's Camera screen, with the Live Photos icon highlighted.
Live Photos can be quickly toggled on or off using this icon.

3. Aim your phone at whatever you want to take a photo of and tap your shutter button as normal. You can also use filters like a normal photo.

You’ll be able to find your Live Photo in your camera roll.

How to edit a live photo on an iPhone or iPad

You can give your Live Photo various effects.

1. Open your device’s Photos app and select the Live Photo you want to edit.

2. With the Live Photo open, swipe up to reveal a list of Effects options.

3. Under Effects, you can choose to keep the Live Photo as is or use a few different options:

  • Loop, which will play the Live Photo in an endless video loop.
  • Bounce, which will cause your Live Photo to bounce back and forth.
  • Long Exposure, which will blend every frame of the Live Photo together into one shot.
An iPhone's Live Photo editing screen, with the "Loop" effect highlighted.
The “Loop” option, for example, turns your Live Photo into a makeshift GIF.

4. Save your effect simply by exiting out of the photo – no need to do anything else. You can, however, change the effect at any time by following the same steps outlined above.

You can also change the Live Photo’s “Key Photo” – the image that appears when your Live Photo is still – and trim the Live Photo’s video.

1. Open the Live Photo and tap Edit in the top-right corner.

2. At the bottom of the page, tap the Live Photo icon.

3. A slider will appear with every frame from the Live Photo. Slide the white window to pick a new Key Photo, or use the arrows on the edges to trim the Live Photo.

An iPhone's Live Photo editing screen, set to the page where you can trim the photo or edit its Key Photo.
You can use the other icons to change the picture’s colors, add a filter, or crop it.

How to turn off live photos on iPhone or iPad

If you want to turn off Live Photos – maybe you just want to take a good still photo without worrying about the video portion – doing so is easy.

When you open the Camera app, you can turn off Live Photos by tapping the icon so it has a slash through it.

An iPhone's Camera screen, with the Live Photos icon highlighted and turned off.
If the Live Photos icon has a slash through it, the feature is disabled.

If you want to turn off Live Photos permanently, so they don’t default to being turned on every time you take a photo:

1. Open the Settings app and select the Camera option.

2. Tap Preserve Settings, and make sure the Live Photo switch is turned on.

An iPhone's "Preserve Settings" menu, with the "Live Photo" option highlighted.
Turning on this switch will keep Live Photos disabled.

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How to use Night mode on your iPhone to take better photos in the dark

Apple Iphone 11
Night mode lets you take great iPhone photos in the dark.

  • Night mode is a feature on the iPhone 11 and 12 that makes photos taken in the dark look better.
  • Unlike Portrait or Video modes, Night mode will turn on automatically in low-light environments.
  • Night mode lets more light into your iPhone’s camera, making dark photos brighter and clearer.
  • Visit Business Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Gone are the blurry snaps of faces hidden in shadow after the sun goes down. With Night mode, iPhone photographers can take great photos at any time of day.

Night mode lengthens the exposure time on your photos, letting in more light and making pictures look brighter. And unlike the iPhone’s other camera modes, you don’t need to choose between a Night mode photo and a normal one – Night mode turns on and adjusts automatically in low-light environments.

Which iPhone models have Night mode?

To use Night mode, you’ll need an iPhone 11 (including Pro and Pro Max), or iPhone 12 (including the Mini, Pro, and Pro Max).

If you want to use Night mode with the front-facing “selfie” camera, in portrait mode, or with a time-lapse video, you’ll need one of the iPhone 12 models.

iPhone 11 Pro Night Mode
Night mode improves photos taken in the dark.

It’s not confirmed whether future iPhone models will have Night mode too, but it’s more than likely that they will. There’s also a chance that it’ll come to other Apple devices with cameras, like the iPad or Mac.

How to use Night mode on your iPhone

Night mode will turn on automatically when you’re trying to take a picture in low-light environments. You’ll see the small symbol near the top left, which looks like a moon, turn yellow. A time like “1s” or “5s” will show up near the moon symbol when it’s activated, which signifies the exposure time (or the length of time the camera lets light in before taking the picture).

How to get night mode on iPhone camera   1
Tap the Night mode icon to adjust its settings.

When Night mode is activated, press the round shutter button to take a photo as you normally would. Hold the camera as still as possible until the exposure completes – this takes a little getting used to, but to get a good night picture, you need to give your camera time to take in light.

How to get night mode on iPhone camera   4
Hold the camera still while you’re taking the Night mode photo.

How to adjust the capture time of Night mode photos

When Night mode is activated on your iPhone, the moon icon will display an exposure time next to it, which is how much time it’ll take to capture a good Night mode picture. But you can adjust this timer manually if you want the picture to be quicker or higher quality.

1. When you’re in the camera app in low-light conditions and Night mode has been activated with a suggested time, tap the Night mode icon.

2. A slider will appear below the frame – move it to the right for more light or left for less light. For more light, there will only be one option: “Max.” This lets the camera take as much time as it needs to produce the best possible Night mode shot. You can also turn off Night mode completely here.

How to get night mode on iPhone camera   6
Choose how intense the Night mode effect will be.

3. Take the picture as normal, while holding the camera still.

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