How to digitize your handwritten notes

Turn words in photos into text

Finally, your smartphone is surprisingly good at taking a photo of a paper document and converting it to digital text using OCR.

Last year, we explained in detail how to use your smartphone as a scanner, including apps like Microsoft Lens and Adobe Scan, but since this article was published in August 2021, Apple has added a built-in feature. called Live Text.

Built into the latest iOS 15 operating system, Live Text lets you select and copy text found in almost any image in your Photos or Camera app. It can be a document, label, menu, or sign.

In the Camera app, point your iPhone’s camera at a photo or image with text, then tap the indicator icon that will appear in the lower right corner of the screen once your iPhone will have recognized the text in the photo. From there, you can tap any of the options to do things like copy text, search for it online, make a phone call, and translate.

Pro tip: To enable Live Text for all supported languages, go to Settings | General | Language and region, and activate Live text.

In the Photos app, select a photo, long press a word, and move the “grab” symbols to adjust the selection. Faucet Copy. Or you can select all the text in the photo by choosing Select All. After copying the text, you can paste it into another application, such as Notes or Messages.

Android doesn’t have a built-in OCR scanner like iPhone, but Google Keep is a free and recommended solution, and it can be installed on computers as well. The note taking app is easy to use. To add a new note, tap the + icon. Now take a photo to scan a document from the camera or choose an image to import an image from your photo gallery.

Either way, open the image, tap the three-dot menu, and select Enter the text of the image. The text should be recognized and imported as plain text. Everything will automatically sync across all your devices, so you can scan a document on your Android phone and edit it later on your PC, Mac, or Chromebook.

Marc Saltzman is a contributing writer who covers personal technology. His work also appears in USA today and other national publications. He hosts the podcast series Tech It Out and is the author of several books, including Apple Watch for Dummies and Siri for dummies.

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