Need to translate text in a photo or video to your own language? Here’s how you can with your handy iPhone.

Young man and woman using telephone
Image: clementetinin/Adobe Stock

You’ve used your iPhone to take a photo or video of a sign, document or other item with text written in a foreign language. And now you’d like to translate that text into your own language. No problem with the Live Text feature.

With iOS 15 or higher on your iPhone, you can isolate text from a photo and then translate it into a different language. And with iOS 16 or higher, you can do the same with a video by pausing it at a specific frame. You can also point your camera at a live object, and see the translation on the spot. Here’s how this all works.

SEE: iOS 16 cheat sheet: Complete guide for 2022 (TechRepublic)

Translate text from an existing photo

First, snap a photo of an item that contains text in a foreign language. Launch the Photos app on your iPhone and open that photo. Press down on the text to select it. Then, drag the handles to select more or less of the text, or tap Select All from the pop-up menu to select all of it.

If the menu disappears, tap anywhere on the selected text to display it. Tap the right arrow on the menu, and then, tap the entry for Translate. The translated text appears below with options to play it, copy it or change the language (Figure A).

Figure A

selecting text to translate from a photo on an iPhone
Image: Apple. Translate text from an image by taking a photo and selecting the text you want translated.

Translate text from an existing video

To work with text from a video, make sure you’ve updated your iPhone to iOS 16 or higher. Go to Settings, select General, and then, tap the option for Software Update. You’ll be told that iOS is up to date or prompted to download and install the latest update.

Take a video of an item with text in a foreign language. Open the video from the Photos app, and play it. Pause the video at a frame with text you wish to translate. Then, press down on the text to select it. Drag the handles, or tap Select All to select all of the text. Tap Translate from the pop-up menu to see the translation (Figure B).

Figure B

selecting text to translate from a video on an iPhone
Image: Apple. Translate text from a video by pausing on a frame with text and selecting the text you need translated.

Translate text from a live image

Aim your phone at an item with text in a foreign language. Wait until the Live Text button appears in the lower right corner of the frame and then tap that button. Select the text you wish to translate. Then tap Translate from the pop-up menu to see the translation (Figure C).

Figure C

translating text from a live image on iPhone
Image: Apple. Translate text via live image by aiming your phono at text you want translated.

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