Google Photos already uses image and facial recognition in interesting ways, such as automatically grouping your photos by the people in them or letting you search for pictures with cars, dogs, or just about anything else.

Now Google is rolling out support text recognition.

Basically if a photo has text in it, you may be able to find that picture just by entering a text-based search. More impressively, you may be able to copy and paste that text.

Google says the feature is rolling out “starting this month,” allowing users to find images in their collection by searching for text.

Want to find a photo with a street name, business sign, historic marker, or menu? Try typing an appropriate search term.

If you’re using the Google Photos mobile app, you can also hit the Lens icon to parse the text in the image so that it’s selectable. Then you can copy and paste it just like text in any other app.

That could come in handy if you want to “scan” a document by snapping a photo with your phone’s camera, and then copy and paste directions, recipes, or anything else into an email or document.

Google seems to doing a phased rollout, and the feature still seems to be very much a work in progress.

I’m able to use Google Lens to make text selectable in some photos in my library. But when I try searching for those same pictures in Google Photos by entering text from the image, nothing shows up.

Android Police’s Rita El Khoury had a little more success and reports that it works well for her… when it when it works at all. Google Photos didn’t always manage to find every image with text in it that she searched for, so it seems like the feature is still something of a work in progress.

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One reply on “Google Photos gains text recognition (and copy/paste)”

  1. My S5 from 2014 has an optical reader application that does this which came with the phone. And it does let me copy and paste the text. But it’s a camera app, not a gallery app, and it tends to flub every tenth character or so.

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