Search for Images Using Text in Google Photos

By Tracey Dowdy

Speaking as someone with 5,629 photos on her phone, a new feature in Google Photos allows users to search for an image that contains text. As an added feature, you can even copy and paste the text when you find it. Think of how much easier it will be to search for the WiFi password you took a snap of or the screenshot of a recipe that’s lost in the myriad of pictures stored on your device.

Google Photo’s search tool was already intuitive, allowing users to search for an image using keywords related to the image such as “dog,” ‘beach,” “food,” and so on. But, they’ve kicked it up a notch by using AI that reads text within an image allowing for an even more effective search tool. Not only can it read standard fonts, but it’s also effective at reading non-standard fonts that appear skewed or distorted.

The feature uses Google Lens, the same tool used in Google Translate to translate street signs, menus, or any other text from one language to another. The feature is currently rolling out in Google Photos for both Android and Apple devices, though it’s still early days and not yet available everywhere. If you can’t access it yet, make sure your software is up to date and keep checking back.

To use the Google Photos search tool, follow these steps:

  • Open Google Photos
  • Tap on the search bar and type what you’re looking for – e.g., if you took a screenshot of the hours of a Korean BBQ restaurant you want to check out, type the name of the restaurant or “Korean BBQ”
  • Google Photos will pull up the image – tap on it
  • Tap the Google Lens button at the bottom of the screen, and all text within the photo will then be highlighted
  • Tap on any words you want to copy – select “Copy Text”
  • Paste the text wherever you need it – your browser, messages, Messenger, etc.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.

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