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How to use Live Text in MacOS Monterey

At WWDC in June 2021, Apple announced a neat new feature in MacOS Monterey called Live Text. This allows you to highlight text in any photo and use it in a huge number of ways. You can copy and paste the text, translate it, look it up, or search for it. If the text includes actionable info like an email address or a phone number, MacOS is smart enough to recognize it and suggest appropriate tasks to you, such as adding it to your contacts or starting a call.

As you can imagine, this is a pretty powerful addition to MacOS and opens up a lot of avenues for new workflows when you use your Mac. To help you get the most from Live Text, we’ve put together a guide on all the clever things it can do and the ways it can improve your Mac usage. Follow along to learn how to put Live Text to use in MacOS Monterey.

Highlight text, copy it, and more

Live Text in MacOS Monterey being used to translate text in a photo.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Open an app like Photos or Safari and find a picture with text in it. Hover your mouse over the text, and the pointer will turn into a text cursor. Click and drag to highlight some text. Now, right-click the text, and you will get a set of options: Look up a definition of the word or phrase, translate it, search for it with your default search engine, copy it, share it, or use the Services menu to perform extra tasks with it.

Alternatively, you can copy the highlighted text by simply pressing Command C. Then, just go to another app, such as a Pages document, and paste the text with Command V.

Click and drag

Live Text in MacOS Monterey being used to drag text from a photo onto a text document.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you prefer to move the highlighted text by clicking and dragging, you can do that, too. Highlight the text, then click and hold. You will be able to drag it onto another document or folder, where you can drop it in place.

While you are holding the text, press Command Tab to switch to another app that is out of view, then drop it in place. This also works if you press the Mission Control button, which even lets you drop it onto a different desktop.

Add events to your calendar or reminders

Live Text in MacOS Monterey being used to add a date to a calendar.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Quick Look is smart enough to recognize the type of text you are highlighting. If you highlight a date and right-click it, you will see options to Create Event and Create Reminder. Click the first one to add a new event for this date to your calendar. You can insert details like a name, location, and duration, then click Add to Calendar to finish.

The situation is similar if you click Create Reminder. This will add a task to Apple’s Reminders app, and you can add a name, time, choose which reminders list it’s added to, and more.

Finally, there is an option to Show This Date in Calendar in the right-click menu when you highlight a date. Clicking this simply opens the Calendar app on the date in question, where you can add an event if you like.

Contact people

Live Text in MacOS Monterey being used to compose an email to an email address.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

As with calendar data, Live Text can recognize email addresses and phone numbers, then suggest appropriate actions based on them. For instance, if Live Text detects an email address, a dotted box appears around the address. Right-click it, or click the Drop-Down Arrow, and you get options to compose a new email to that address, add it to your contacts, or start a FaceTime or FaceTime Audio call.

A similar thing happens with phone numbers, with the information highlighted in a dotted box when you hover over it. Right-click for a range of options, including adding the number to your contacts, starting a call with FaceTime or your iPhone, or sending a message. There is also an option for Large Type. This displays the number in large letters on your screen, which is useful if you find the default text a little too small.

Live Text in Quick Look

Live Text in MacOS Monterey highlighting a pasage of text in a photo.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Quick Look gives you a preview of files without having to open them, and it also works with Live Text. Locate a file containing text in Finder and click it once, then press the Space Bar to open a Quick Look preview. Here, you can highlight text and right-click it as in previous steps.

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