In context: Apple introduced Live Text with the release of iOS 15 and macOS Monterey. It allows users to copy text from any image and paste it into a document or message. Although not fully integrated into the operating system, Windows users should benefit from a similar feature in their PowerToys toolkit called PowerOCR.
The latest addition to Microsoft’s PowerToys suite is a tool called PowerOCR. Created by Windows app developer Joseph Finney, the feature allows users to extract text from images using OCR (optical character recognition). These aren’t exactly uncharted waters as OCR has been around for decades, but until now there was no hint of such a feature being added at the operating system level in Windows. Microsoft does, however, offer OCR in OneNote, which is free to download.
Similar optical character recognition has been made available on the latest iterations of macOS and iOS Live Text, while Windows users have had to make do with third-party software such as Text Input on which PowerOCR is based.
Finney announced the tool on July 4 via a Github pull request. He explained that OCR is performed “by selecting a rectangular region, clicking on a word, or right-clicking on an image file and selecting PowerOCR”.
PowerOCR is still in development with no set release date, and it’s one of two new tools to be added to Microsoft PowerToys – Screen Ruler was also announced recently. Finney is posting his progress on GithubGenericName, and with most of the basic functionality already in place (thanks to Text Grab), we should see a release in the next few months.
Microsoft PowerToys is a suite of tools designed for power users to streamline their Windows experience and increase their productivity. It already has a robust toolkit that includes a color picker and an image resizer. Color Picker allows users to extract a color code from anywhere on the screen, while Image Resizer allows resizing multiple images simultaneously.
The upcoming screen ruler will feature four measurement modes, allowing users to measure things like rectangular areas and the distance between objects in pixels.
Unlike Live Text, which is native to macOS and iOS, PowerToys is intentionally not part of Windows and must be installed separately. This is an open-source project available for free on the Microsoft Store site. You can also grab PowerToys from our download section. It is compatible with Windows 10 and Windows 11.