macOS Shortcuts: Capture Text From Your Screen

You can create a Shortcut that will allow you to capture a portion of your screen, and then the text from that image will be extracted and placed in the clipboard. This is useful where you can't normally select and copy text from websites and apps.



You can download the Shortcut here.

Comments: 33 Responses to “macOS Shortcuts: Capture Text From Your Screen”

    Razvan Mihai
    4 weeks ago

    Excellent tutorial, Gary. Shortcuts seem to be more straightforward than Automator. In your list of shortcuts, I saw Create New Note With Date. I wonder what this shortcut is about if it can be used interchangeably with iOS?

    4 weeks ago

    Razvan: try it out for yourself and see.

    Akshat Singhal
    4 weeks ago

    Hey Gary, brilliant tutorial for grabbing text from any screen and it works like a charm for me. However, I couldn’t make the shortcut to work for me. Any help will be highly appreciated.

    4 weeks ago

    Akshat: Not sure from your comment whether you got it to work or didn’t. If you didn’t, just check everything carefully.

    Phyllis Steele
    4 weeks ago

    Terrific! Clear and concise, even for this old lady! This is going to be very useful. Thanks.

    clemdecame
    4 weeks ago

    Hi Gary ! I just follow each step of your video, but it simply it doesn’t work for me. The problem occurs at 1:15, because when I take the screenshot, the text is not extracted, at least, it does not appear in the configuration menu of the shortcut.

    Do you have an idea of a setting a could change to make that work ?

    By the way I appreciate your very instructive videos, take care of yourself and have a nice day

    4 weeks ago

    clemdecame: Click on the Setting button at the top right and then click Privacy. What do you see there. Also, which Mac do you have. I wonder if old Macs that maybe can’t handle Live Text, can’t do this.

    Lali Raj
    4 weeks ago

    Hi Gary this method “macOS Shortcuts: Capture Text From Your Screen” will it work on macOS Catalina? Please let me know the answer.
    Lali

    4 weeks ago

    Lali: No. The Shortcuts app is new for macOS Monterey.

    Kathy
    4 weeks ago

    Hi Gary, super thank you! I wonder, is there a keyboard shortcut to open the Text Edit App as well as one to view the Clipboard? I’ve been searching with no luck. Thanks in advance.

    4 weeks ago

    Kathy: To open the TextEdit app (or any app) with a keyboard shortcut, you’d need something like this: https://macmost.com/create-a-mac-keyboard-shortcut-to-launch-any-app.html Of course you could also launch LaunchPad with your keyboard shortcut for that, then type “Tex…” and Return to launch it. Same with Spotlight and Command+Space. As for viewing the clipboard, that can only be done in the Finder where you can access it with Edit, Show Clipboard. So you could set a keyboard shortcut for that in SYstem Preferences, Keyboard, Shortcuts like with any other menu command.

    Dennis Coburn
    4 weeks ago

    I have several hundred photos with some text on each. Could this Shortcut be modified to automatically load each photo sequentially, get its text and append the text to a file?

    Thanks,
    Dennis

    4 weeks ago

    Dennis: Most of this Shortcut isn’t related to that so I would start from scratch. But you should be able to do it by selecting the files, looping through them, adding the text to a list, and then saving them to the clipboard or a file. I don’t know what sort of programming experience you have so I don’t know how difficult that will be for you. But it should be possible.

    Ihab
    4 weeks ago

    Thanks Gary. Works like a charm.

    Didier
    4 weeks ago

    I have the same issue than clemdecame : when I launch shortcut with only interactive screenshot, nothing happens (I checked with quickview or copy to clipboard). When I check settings it’s totally empty (if I had copy to clipboard I see the permission for clipboard).
    Thanks for your great videos.
    Best regards from France

    Kathy
    4 weeks ago

    Hi Gary, another question please. I’m experimenting with shortcuts using your excellent tips and I’ve been playing around with taking regular screen shots (not just text) to the clipboard (as a shortcut), and have got it working. I’ve noticed however, that once I’ve used my keyboard shortcut for that particular shortcut (which works) that I have to actually quit the screenshots app for the shortcut to work again while testing it in another app like pages for example. Is this normal behaviour?Thx

    4 weeks ago

    Kathy: You shouldn’t need to do that. Maybe try a restart?

    Kathy
    4 weeks ago

    Yes that worked. Thanks. One other thing, I tried the ‘stock’ Self Destructing Clipboard awhile back, and it didn’t seem to work. Are there settings that need to be done to complete the setup I wonder or should it just work as is. Thanks again Gary.

    4 weeks ago

    Kathy: I don’t know. I haven’t tried that at all.

    Eric
    4 weeks ago

    Another way to check what is in the clipboard is to use the Finder,Edit,Show Clipboard menu item.

    Andrés
    3 weeks ago

    I have the same issue than clemdecame : when I launch shortcut with only interactive screenshot, nothing happens (I checked with quickview or copy to clipboard). When I check settings it’s totally empty (if I had copy to clipboard I see the permission for clipboard).
    Thanks for your great videos.
    Best regards from Mexico

    Richard Gerathy
    3 weeks ago

    Hi Gary. I’m using the shortcut to extract text from newspaper stories, unfortunately the text being in columns means the extraction is jumbled between columns.

    Any thoughts on extracting the text column by column?

    3 weeks ago

    Richard: Just select a column at a time?

    Daniel Gourdellier
    3 weeks ago

    I have the same issue than several other people. The action “Take screenshot” doesn’t work, but all other actions work fine (“Extract text from image”, etc.).
    It seems that other people having this issue are from non-speaking English countries. Could it be a translation issue ?
    Thank you from France

    3 weeks ago

    Daniel: Could be. Maybe test by changing your language/keyboard to U.S.? I could understand it affecting the extract text portion, but you say even a Shortcut with just Take Screenshot all by itself doesn’t work?

    Daniel Gourdellier
    3 weeks ago

    1) In preferences Language/Apps, I added Shortcuts.app in English and tried again : it doesn’t work
    2) In preferences Language/Apps, I added Shortcuts.app in English, then I restarted the Mac and tried again : it doesn’t work
    3) In preferences Language/General, I chose English as main language, then I restarted the Mac and tried again : IT WORKS !
    So there is really a translation bug in this action. Do you see any workaround ( apart changing my language ! ) ?

    3 weeks ago

    Daniel: So are you testing just the screen capture action? Or is the text part involved too? If just the capture, then it is simply a bug. Report to Apple and you’ll need to hope for a fix at some point.

    Daniel Gourdellier
    2 weeks ago

    It’s only the screen capture action, nothing else.
    Can you tell me how to report to Apple ?
    Thank you Gary

    2 weeks ago

    Daniel: If you are developer, you would sue the developer site. If not, use https://www.apple.com/feedback/

    nick
    2 weeks ago

    hi Gary, how do I go about editing a shortcut I made? For example rename it or change the action. I must be missing the obvious but I don’t see my shortcut listed under All Shortcuts. thx

    2 weeks ago

    nick: Open the Shortcuts app, double-click on the Shortcut to open it and edit it. Avoid the “play” button at the top right corner when you double-click.

    Gene
    2 weeks ago

    Great tutorial Gary. One thing that I got a little confused was when you set up the keyboard shortcut (cmd-shift-7) cmd shift & was displayed. I guess that’s just how it works? Or is the software like Shortcuts context sensitive and knows when to use a 7 verse the &?

    2 weeks ago

    Gene: Since & and 7 are the same key, it means the same thing. Probably just a bug that shows it as a &.

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