Google Photos Can Now Search For Text Within Your Vast Library Of Images, And That's Not All

Mountain Dew Sign Google Photos OCR
As some astute observers had already noticed, Google is rolling out a text recognition feature to Google Photos. This allows uses to search and sort through their vast libraries of photographs by blurbs of text, something that was not previously possible, but the functionality does not stop there—Google has another trick up its sleeve.

After Google finds whatever photo you are looking for, you can tap on the "Lens" button to copy and paste the text. For example, I searched through my own library of photos for "Pepsi" and Google Photos found a snapshot of a Mountain Dew sign I recently took, as shown in the image at the top of this article. After clicking on the Lens button, I was able to select the text.

This new feature may not be available to everyone right away, as Google seems to be taking a staggered approach. However, it has definitely begun rolling out, at least on mobile—the OCR (optical character recognition) copy/paste trick worked on my iPhone XS Max, but not on the Chrome browser on my Windows 10 PC.

Google Photos OCR

As for its usefulness, your mileage may vary. I've only briefly played around with it, but in some cases, the search function did not work as it should, skipping photos based on text entries that should be easy to find. In many other cases, however, it worked magnificently.  Show above, for example, is a photo of a tag for a 2019 Honda Insight.

This new feature plays into Google's efforts in artificial intelligence (AI). One way this could come in handy is when having to type in a long Wi-Fi password. Snapping a pic and then copying/pasting the text might prove easier for some people, depending on the password. Really, though, it makes Google Photos more robust than it already is. Well done, Google.