Every website is, at this point, a place to share screenshots from other websites. Reddit is full of pictures of Twitter and Facebook posts, for example, and those sites are full of pictures of Reddit threads. Then there are the infamous Notes App screenshots.

I could talk for hours about the economic forces at play here — how the incentive structures of social networks prioritize posts that keep people on the site as long as possible, which means screenshots from other websites are prioritized over actual links. A good chunk of the “text” you read on a given platform is stored in image files, so we’re all using far too much bandwidth browsing TXT files needlessly encoded as images, and that’s not even speaking of the accessibility issue of having text buried in images where screen readers and other tools can’t read them aloud for people who are blind or just prefer transcripts.

You probably don’t care about all that, though. You just want to copy text from these freaking images.

And you can’t — unless you’re on an Apple device. Recent updates gave Macs, iPhones, and iPads the ability to highlight and copy text from a photo. It’s called Live Text, and it’s basically magic.

Photograph: Justin Pot

But what if you’re on Windows? It turns out Windows sort of has this feature. Let’s take a look at that and another (better) way to copy text from any image.

Use the Built-In “Search With a Screenshot” Tool

It’s far from slick, and not exactly easy to find, but Windows does have a feature that can copy text from images. Click the Search bar or button in the taskbar and click the “Search with a screenshot”Button, which is just above the search box on the right side.

Microsoft via Justin Pot

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