How To: Enter Text from the Real World into Any Search Field in iOS 15

Enter Text from the Real World into Any Search Field in iOS 15

When you need to share large bodies of text from the real world to the digital one, the traditional method has been to take a picture. That's fine for viewing the text, but what about when you need it typed out? That usually means tapping out each letter of each word, which can get monotonous fast. But that's no longer the case, as you can enter text in any field on your iPhone with iOS 15.

Seriously, try it right now! Just long-press on any text field — whether in Messages, Notes, Safari, you name it — as if you were going to paste text. You'll likely still see "Paste," as well as any app-specific functions that might appear, but a new option will pop up as well: "Text From Camera." This is the new system-wide OCR (Optical Character Recognition) feature in iOS 15.

Go ahead and tap this button, and iOS will replace the keyboard with a viewfinder. Now, hover that viewfinder over some text — once iOS identifies the text, you'll see a yellow selection window surround it. Then, iOS will immediately enter that text into your app. If you change your mind, don't worry — moving away from the text in the real world clears it from your app as well. It won't save on the page until you hit "Insert."

Note the icon in the bottom right — when you tap it after text is highlighted, iOS will pull up a focused view of that text. Here, you can hand-select any portion of the text, just as you normally can on your iPhone. That way, you can leave out any extraneous text you don't want. Again, just tap "Insert" when finished.

Note: Apple's iOS 15 is currently in beta development. A public beta will be available in July, while the final release isn't expected until the fall of 2021. Anything shown in this guide may change or be removed during the development cycle.

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Cover image and GIFs by Jake Peterson/Gadget Hacks

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