Tech

9 Handy Ways to Use the Text Scanner on Your iPhone


When you want to transfer text from physical paper to your iPhone’s digital screen, do you retype the content? If your iPhone model has a built-in text scanner, you don’t need to anymore. But that’s not all. The brilliant part is that your iPhone’s text scanner can do so much more than just digitize text.


Let’s look at the different ways in which you can utilize your iPhone’s built-in text scanner, so you know how to put this feature to good use anytime, anywhere.

9. Scan, Insert, and Copy Text

Scanning and digitalizing text is the basic function of any text scanner. If this is the first time you learned that your iPhone has this feature, we recommend that you check out our guide to learn how to use your iPhone’s text scanner first.

When scanning to insert or copy text, you should always tap the Scan Text button in the scanning window before tapping Insert, especially in apps such as Notes and Messages. This ensures that the text you want is extracted first. You can then proceed to highlight specific sentences that you actually want to digitize.

8. Translate Text

There’s already a way to translate a spoken conversation with your iPhone, but what about written words? If you travel abroad and visit a Japanese or Chinese restaurant, you may find that the menu is printed entirely in the local language.

Instead of calling a waiter over, or hoping that you’ll have a travel-cum-translator buddy in that situation, you just need to point your iPhone camera at the menu. Once the words are within the yellow frame, tap the Scan Text button. Then, tap to highlight the text. On the context menu, tap the arrow for more options. Select Translate to translate the words into the language of your choice.

If it’s a digital menu, you can take a screenshot of your iPhone screen and access the image in the Photos app to translate it.

7. Share Your Scanned Text

Let’s say you have a screenshot of some names and bank account numbers for an invoice and need to send them to a colleague. However, the process of retyping information is prone to human error. To save time and ensure accuracy, use your iPhone camera to scan the text.

Hit the Scan Text button, highlight the relevant names and numbers, and select Share from the context menu. This opens up the Share Sheet. From here, you can then choose a recent contact or suitable messaging app to send your information.

To get a better understanding of the Share Sheet, you can refer to how to use and customize the Share Sheet on your iPhone.

6. Get Definitions and Other Internet Search Results

For scanned text, Look Up is another option available in the context menu. For example, if you tap on a scanned term like “cat” and choose Look Up, your iPhone will fetch dictionary definitions of the word and other relevant search results.

If the provided information is not sufficient, you can select Search the Web. Your iPhone will automatically launch Safari and load more search results for the selected text.


By using Look Up, you can quickly get the meaning of unfamiliar words and their relevant queries, without having to retype or double-check the spelling.

5. Scan QR Codes on Your iPhone Screen

You probably already know that you can use your iPhone camera to scan QR codes. But what if the QR code is itself an image on your iPhone screen? This is where your iPhone’s text scanner comes in handy.

First, save the image or take a screenshot of your iPhone screen. Next, access the picture in the Photos app and tap the Scan Text button. Tap on the QR code and select Open in Safari to be redirected to the page.

4. Message, Call, or Email Someone

Besides QR codes, your iPhone’s text scanner can detect other types of text, such as phone numbers and email addresses. For instance, let’s say you receive a leaflet about a weekend workshop. The leaflet contains the phone number and email of the organizer.

After scanning, long-pressing on the phone number gives you the option to call, message, and FaceTime the person. Tapping on the email address launches the Mail app on your iPhone.

As a tip, if hovering your iPhone camera over the physical text doesn’t frame your content accurately, it’s faster to just take a picture of the entire paper. Then, use the Scan Text button to detect and tap on the specific text you want.

3. Find and Preview a Location

Let’s use the leaflet example again. Most people’s first instinct is to retype the address into the search bar of Google Maps. But if you already took a picture of the leaflet, it’s much faster to long-press on the address because your iPhone’s text scanner can distinguish it from normal text as well.

You’ll be presented with options such as Get Directions and Open in Maps. You can see a quick preview of the location and its surroundings, too. Of course, you can also choose to simply copy and share the address with other people.

2. Visit a Website

Your iPhone’s text scanner can recognize URLs as well. Tapping on a web address automatically launches your web browser and loads the website. If you just want a preview, long-pressing on the web address will do the trick. As you do so, the context menu that appears also lets you add the webpage to your reading list for later reference.

For those of us who tend to mistype URLs and land ourselves on suspicious webpages, this helpful function can take us to the right place immediately.

1. Create a Reminder or Calendar Event

By long-pressing on text that contains date and time information, your iPhone’s text scanner will enable you to easily create a reminder or add the event to your iPhone’s calendar. If the image includes an address, your iPhone will also use that given information to fill in the Location field on its own.

If you simply want to see how the activity may fit into your other obligations, choose Show in Calendar to have an overview of your month’s schedule.

The Convenience of Scanning Text With Your iPhone

Your iPhone can scan text on physical surfaces and detect the ones on captured images. It can even recognize different types of text, such as QR codes, phone numbers, email addresses, and so on.

We hope this list has given you a better idea of how you can use your iPhone’s text scanner in different everyday situations. If you feel that copying and pasting is already an incredibly convenient feature, just wait until you try out the methods above and utilize your iPhone’s text scanner!

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