How to Use Live Text & Visual Look Up with macOS Monterey (2022)

Harness the power of optical character recognition to select, copy, and paste text from photos.

* This post is part of iPhone Life's Tip of the Day newsletter. . *

If you haven’t upgraded your Mac software to macOS Monterey yet, the Live Text feature is a compelling reason to do so. The Live Text feature allows you to select, copy, and paste text from a photo into another needed location. Not only that, once you have selected the text, you can use Visual Look Up to quickly get directions, call a phone number, visit a website, or translate a foreign language.

Related: How to Sync Messages from iPhone to Mac

Why You’ll Love This Tip

  • Avoid scribbling notes and instead copy/paste text from a photo.
  • Use Visual Look Up to do a web search, initiate a call, translate another language, or get directions to an address.

How to Use Live Text & Visual Look Up on Mac

As long as your Mac has been upgraded to macOS Monterey or later, you can use the Live Text and Visual Look Up features in Photos, Safari, Quick Look, Screenshots, and Preview. To learn more about your Mac's hidden features, sign up for our free Tip of the Day newsletter. Now, here's how to use your Mac's Live Text and Visual Look Up features: 

  1. Open the Photos app on your Mac.

    Open the Photos app.
  2. Select a photo containing text. 

    How to use live text step 2 - Select Photo with Text
  3.  In this example, I took a picture of a flyer at my local coffee shop.

    How to use live text step 3 -Flyer example
  4. Click and drag your cursor over the text to highlight it.

    How to use live text step 4-Highlight Text
  5. Press Command + C on your keyboard to copy the text.

    How to use live text step 5 -Copy
  6. Now you can paste this information into any app with text fields. Press Command + V to paste. 

    How to use live text step 6 -Paste
  7. In this example, we'll paste the text into a Microsoft Word document.

    How to use live text step 7 -Paste to Word Doc
  8. If you want to simply look up information related to the text, ctrl-click on the highlighted text. In this case, I've highlighted and clicked on just the phone number. Visual Look Up will provide you with a list of options in the menu. 

    How to use live text Step 8 - Right Click

It's important to note that the options offered by Visual Look Up will differ depending on the text highlighted. If you've highlighted an address, you will see an option to look up directions. If the highlighted text is a website, you can go directly to the site, and if the text is in a foreign language you will see an option to translate it. Or, you can just do a Google search for whatever text you have selected. Live Text and Visual Look Up even recognizes handwritten words. While it doesn't recognize handwriting as accurately as typed text, that's still pretty impressive! 

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Author Details

Jivan Hall's picture

Author Details

Jivan Hall

Jivan has always been a big fan of Apple products since the original iPod hit the scene, and gets excited about the fast pace of technology. Jivan has a background in both business and tech, and has a degree in business administration. He loves researching new tips and ideas and sharing them with others. Jivan resides out of San Diego in sunny southern California, and tries to spend as much time as humanly possible outdoors with his two young sons playing sports, chasing waves, and on the seemingly never-ending quest for the best fish taco.