Google Photos finally lets PC users copy text from an image

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One of the most handy Google Photos features just landed on the desktop—via your browser—where it could be even more valuable.

The mobile version of Photos supports a technology called Google Lens. In 2018, Lens introduced Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology that can automatically copy any text found in an image, allowing you to paste it elsewhere for easy saving. As 9to5Google spotted over the weekend, that Lens OCR feature is now rolling out to desktop browsers, and that rocks.

google photos text 2 Brad Chacos/IDG

Enabling OCR in Google Photos makes it easy-peasy to take a picture of a document, book, or anything else on your phone, open it in your browser, and quickly copy its contents into an Office file. It’s already active on my account and works scarily well on the handful of pictures I tried it with (as you might expect from a Google product, as the company invests heavily in AI speech recognition).

You’ll know you have access to the feature if you open a picture with words in it via the Google Photos website and a “Copy text from image” prompt appears at the top of the page. Selecting it will summon the words in a separate pane for hassle-free copy and pasting. The service even lets you select portions of text if you don’t want to snag every word.

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