Google Photos now lets users copy and paste text from images

23 Aug 2019

Image: © bnenin/

Google is currently rolling out a feature that enables users to search for photos based on the text captured in them.

On Thursday (22 August), it emerged that Google has quietly begun the roll-out of new AI features for its Lens image recognition platform.

9to5Google reported that the company is making use of its optical character recognition (OCR) technology, which can recognise and pull text from any image.

Google Photos, much like Apple Photos, already recognises objects, events, people and pets that users had photographed. Both photo management platforms also incorporate GPS data, allowing users to search for photos based on the location where they were taken.

The Twitter account run by the Google Photos team confirmed that OCR would now allow users to search for photos based on the text captured in them, as well as allowing users to copy and paste that text.

Venture capitalist Hunter Walk tweeted: “Wow, Google Photos has OCR to turn screenshots into copy/paste text … Nicely done Google team!”

In response, the company said that it is “rolling out the ability to search your photos by the text in them”. “Once you find the photo you’re looking for, click the Lens button to easily copy and paste text,” the tweet added.

While many Android users on Twitter claim to have access to the new feature, it hasn’t been rolled out to everybody just yet.

iOS users of Google Photos are still unable to access the feature on their devices, but a number of people using the web version of Google Photos have successfully been able to try out the new OCR feature.

As Google joked in the tweet above, this could be handy way to log in to Wi-Fi networks with complicated passwords, but the feature will also be useful for pulling up important documents, old memories and receipts.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic