Work with Text in Images with TextSniper and Photos Search

Originally published at: Work with Text in Images with TextSniper and Photos Search - TidBITS

With these utilities from different developers, you can extract text from any image on the Mac or search for text in your photos on either the Mac or iPhone. Text in images is no longer just pixels.

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I use TextSniper — it is a tool I had wanted for a long time. Countless uses for researchers and developers (and who isn’t a researcher these days?) If the dev added statistics, I’d like to see them. An app like Timing could also be enhanced to give information about the context in which one tends to snip text.

Photo Search app is intriguing. Photos app has a setting to store images in iCloud and only download some of them. Don’t know how Photos Search would work in that case.

I thought Apple Photos did not have automation, but it does. Either that’s new or I overlooked it years ago. So I’ve asked my team at CogSci Apps to look at adding supporting to Hook for it (copying links to photos). Many of us have > 10k photos, so indexing/accessing is a big issue. And like you intimated in your article, who can bother adding meta-data to everything.

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How does Search Photos compare to Orga?

Regarding iCloud : Photos Search will download the photo and process it locally. The photo’s image data will then be released from memory again. Thanks! - Alco Blom, Developer of Photos Search.


Apple Photos supports Apple Events very well and I use it to add keywords to the found photos, if you want. - Alco Blom


No idea, but I’ll take a look at Orga.

I also missed an app that’s akin to TextSniper, LiveScan from Gentleman Coders (the firm behind RAW Power). It runs on macOS and iOS, and does roughly the same sort of screenshotting approach for capturing text.

I have TextSniper and find it very useful. I was astonished to see it reliably recognize labels on curved bottles.

There is (yet) another utility CleanShot that recently added text recognition. CleanShot is virtually a swiss army knife of screen capture functions and well worth your while to take a look at it.

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Oh well, that’s embarrassing. I use CleanShot all the time but missed that an update had added text recognition. There may have to be a followup article. :slight_smile:

This article convinced me to check out both of these apps. Thank you. By the way, there’s an easy way to keep (and find) your vaccination card on iPhone, just using Notes and the scanner function. Here are the details: Keep your vaccination card in Notes (Gordon Meyer)



FYI, in Europe, most national heath apps now have a digital copy to flash when needed to go in somewhere or download as PDF for when making bookings. Although, TBH, these are only really needed for certain places/uses. Because many countries are hitting ~70-80% double-shot adult vaccination levels, I think a lot of laxity is setting in.

The reason apps are adding OCR features is that Apple took the unusual step of making their OCR engine available to developers before adding the functionality to Apple’s own apps. It’s the Text Recognition portion of the Vision framework, described here:

For example, Nisus Writer Pro, my favorite word processor, added the ability to perform OCR on any image dragged into a document back in November 2020.


Closing the loop to say that we did find it is possible. So we’ve added a custom hook://photos URL scheme so people can create links to their photos, per Using Hook with Apple Photos App. We’ve given credit to the TidBits article and mentioned Photos Search Mac app. We’ll see if we can create links to Photos via the Photos Search Mac app (i.e., you’d invoke Hook in the app, and use Hook’s Copy Link function).


Earlier in the year I came across TextBuddy for macOS – one of the features that had caught my eye was text extraction from images.

I’ve made limited use of utility in general, never mind this particular feature, so I can’t comment on how well it shapes up against the featured apps here but testing against some of the images in this article produced mixed results. The High Noon Athletic Club logo produced limited success, but other cleaner sources produced excellent results.

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