Ever tried to edit text in a slide deck and clicked on the words only to find *gasp* it’s not text at all, it’s an image! Well, I guess the only option is to spend the next 40 minutes typing it out by hand, right? Not anymore! You have a few options to extract text from an image – keep reading to learn more!

You might be wondering why you’d need to extract text from an image…Well, if you’re creating a presentation and someone has thoughtlessly chucked in a bunch of images of slides or screenshots of data, it makes it really hard to develop a deck that’s consistently on brand, animated and updatable! Transforming these images into editable slides will make your life so much easier and your deliverable so much better.

When it comes to extracting text from an image, usually the OneNote trick does the job, but if you’re using Windows there’s a much better solution. PowerToys, an add-on for Windows 10 and 11, has a nifty feature called Text Extractor that can be easily installed and used to copy text from images and photos.

Now some of this is going to sound complicated, especially when the Command Prompt box pops up, but follow the steps carefully and you’ll be there in no time!

Step 1 – How to install PowerToys

  1. Click Start and search for Command Prompt
    Right-click Command Prompt and select Run as administrator. You’ll get a fun looking pop-up that might make you feel like a hacker or remind you of the Matrix. You may get a pop up asking if you’d like Windows Command Processor to make changes to your computer – that’s what you’re aiming for, so click yes!
  2. Type the following command into the box:
    winget install --id Microsoft.PowerToys

    It should look a little like this:
    Screenshot of the Command Prompt pop up box

  3. Press Enter and select Yes to Microsoft making changes if prompted.
    Commpand Promt pop up installing PowerToys

Then give it a moment to do its thing – get a cup of tea, look at cat pictures, practice your slow-motion dodging skills.

Once PowerToys is installed, it’s on to step two!

Step 2 – Enable Text Extractor

PowerToys is installed, let’s get it fired up! Click Start, then search for and open the PowerToys app.

Select Text Extractor from the menu on the left and make sure the Enable Text Extractor toggle is set to On.

Screenshot of the Text Extractor options

You’ll want to pay particular attention to the Activation shortcut bit. This is the keys you press to activate Text Extractor, so if you fancy changing the shortcut to something else, now’s the time!

Step 3 – Extract text from an image

Now it’s time to put the tool to the test. Open the image or photo you want to extract text from and press the Extract Text shortcut. The screen will go dark and your cursor will become a crosshair. Click and drag the window over the text you want to copy.

screenshot of the text extractor in action, creating a window above an image of a presentation slide full of text

Finally, switch to the app where you want the text to live and press Crtl+V, just like you’re copying and pasting, and…

screenshot of a PowerPoint slide with a text box full of the text from the previous image

Tadah! You’re now free to move, edit and format the text as you please.

There’s one small catch – as with most things in life, Text Extractor isn’t perfect. You may need to do a little editing here and there, particularly if the image you’re extracting text from has unusual fonts, poor background contrast or varied spacing. But it does pretty well most of the time, and it’s certainly faster than typing text out yourself!

3 ways to use Text Extractor

You have been given an awesome power – but how best to use it? Here’s a few ideas!


Maybe it was a poster, a billboard or part of a book, but you’ve taken a photo of some text you found out in the real world and want to quickly transfer it to a digital format. Text Extractor can be used to pull text from photos with just a few clicks. It can be especially useful for digitizing paper-based documents like receipts or invoices, making it easier to store, search and send information.

There are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. The selection tool is rectangular and reads horizontally, so it won’t manage well with diagonal text. You should try and keep text horizontal when taking photos and you may need to rotate images if the text isn’t straight.
  2. Unless you have amazing handwriting, it’s going to struggle getting anything from written text.
  3. Good lighting and background contrast is going to give the extractor the best shot at getting the text you want

Video calls

As Text Extractor uses a screen-shot to pull text, you can extract text from anything on your screen, even during a video call. We’ve all been there – you’re shown a slide that’s jam-packed with information and then it’s a race against time to get as much information down as possible before it disappears forever. With Text Extractor, you can grab everything to peruse at your own pace later on, leaving you free to listen to the presenter.

If you don’t want your audience to have to use Text Extractor when you’re presenting – not a good look! – then check out our tips on cutting down text in your presentations: How to reduce text on your presentation slides


Ah, the glorious PDF! Sometimes you can copy from them, sometimes you can’t, you never quite know what you’re going to get. Now you have your secret weapon Text Extractor, no PDF is beyond your reach! There are a few limitations though – Text Extractor won’t magically allow you to edit the PDF, it will just let you copy the text into a text box or another app. You’ll need to look elsewhere for your PDF editing needs, but if you just need good old copy and paste, Text Extractor will do the trick.

You’ve got the tools and now you know how to use them – time to get out there and starting extracting that text!

As you probably noticed while turning on Text Extractor, PowerToys has lots of other great features you can use to make life easier. From accessibility features like Find My Mouse to typing help like Quick Accent, however you use your computer there’s bound to be something there for you. Why not get started by selecting Welcome to PowerToys from the PowerToys menu to get a rundown of all its fancy tricks!

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Written by

Amy Dowler

Communication consultant

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