How to Translate Text on iPhone the Fast Way

Quickly translate text directly in the Camera or Photos app.

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

The fastest way to translate writing on iPhone may often not be the Translate app, but the Live Text translator function in the Camera app or Photos. Learn how to translate text in the camera's field of vision, directly from images. Convert English to Spanish or vice versa, or many other languages.

Related: 6 Easy Ways to Transfer Photos from iPhone to PC or Mac

Why You’ll Love This Tip

  • Translate faster with Live Text than with the Translate app or other methods.
  • Translate any text that your phone camera can see, without having to type it in – especially useful if it’s written in a foreign alphabet.

How to Use Live Text Translate on iPhone

You can use Live Text in either the Camera app or the Photos app. These steps will use the Photos app, but the Live Text feature is identical in both. Please note that this feature requires iOS 15 or later. To learn about more new iOS 15 features, check out our Tip of the Day newsletter.

Note: the Translate feature is still being improved and, currently, can be kind of finicky. Some of our staff members have had trouble translating text in Cyrillic script or Chinese characters. If you're unable to translate the text you wish to, try taking a clearer picture of the text or even highlighting less text. If you have persistent problems, don't hesitate to report your problems to Apple. Your feedback can help improve the feature for all users.

  1. Open the Photos app

    Open Photos app
     
  2. Tap to open the photo containing the text.

    Tap photo with text
     
  3. Tap the Live Text icon. This will appear in the lower-right corner when the Live Text feature recognizes available text in the image.


     
  4. Long press to highlight a word, then drag your finger to highlight all of the text you want to translate. This will automatically open the Live Text toolbar.


     
  5. Tap on the over arrow to find the Translate option.


     
  6. Tap Translate.


     
  7. The first time you use this feature you will have to tap Continue to consent to send the selected content to Apple.
  8. The translation will default to a language based on your phone’s language settings, or you may be prompted to choose a language.
  9. Scroll to the bottom of the screen to choose options like Change Language or Copy Translation

Currently available languages include Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin—China mainland), Chinese (Mandarin—Taiwan), English (UK), English (US), French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, or Spanish. New languages are being added all the time, so check the list if you want a different language.

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Author Details

Devala Rees's picture

Author Details

Devala Rees

Devala Rees has been a writer since the age of eleven, and a loyal user of Apple products for even longer. His writing background is quite eclectic, from freelance professional articles to Hindu religious scholarship to fantasy novels. Much of his writing on various topics can be found on Quora.com.