Mozilla plans to add Text Recognition support to Firefox

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 19, 2022

Firefox Nightly users who run the browser on a Mac may have stumbled upon a new "copy text from image" option when they activate the context menu of images.

firefox text recognition

Text recognition is a new feature that Mozilla plans to integrate in Firefox Stable. The main idea behind the feature is to add an option to Firefox to extract text content from images.

The feature is enabled by default in the latest Firefox Nightly version for Apple Mac devices. All users have to do is to right-click on any image that is displayed in Firefox and select the "copy text from image" option of the context menu.

copy text from image firefox

Firefox displays a "searching image for text" prompt, which it then replaces with the text content that it retrieved from the image.

The text recognition functionality is powered by Mac OS' native OCR feature, in particular the Mac OS API VNRecognizeTextRequestRevision2. The feature is only available on Mac OS 10.15 or newer versions.

firefox mac os text recognition

All text is copied to the Clipboard automatically. From there, Firefox users may paste it into another application for further processing. Mozilla notes on its bug tracking site that users may select parts of the text to either copy it to the Clipboard or use screen reading functionality.

Windows and Linux users do not get access to the experimental feature at this stage. Mozilla has plans to bring the text recognition feature to Windows. The bug report suggests using the official Windows OCR APIs for that, which would make sense from an engineering point of view.

It is unclear at this point whether the functionality will also arrive on Linux-powered devices that run Firefox.

Firefox users had to rely on browser extensions, like the excellent Project Naptha (abandoned), or programs that run on the operating system, such as Screen Translator, Capture2Text, or ShareX.

Closing Words

Text recognition support is a welcome addition to Firefox. It helps users who rely on screen readers to get better context when it comes to images, and may speed up the extraction of text from images for others.

Now You: have you used text recognition tools in the past?

Mozilla plans to add Text Recognition support to Firefox
Article Name
Mozilla plans to add Text Recognition support to Firefox
Mozilla is testing a text recognition -- also known as OCR -- feature in Firefox Nightly versions on Mac OS devices.
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  1. Rex said on August 25, 2022 at 10:28 am

    Yawn, yet another bit of bloat that would’ve been better served by being an extension, as used to be possible in the good old days of XUL when extensions were allowed to be powerful and actually extend the browser instead of cloning Chrome’s extension system.

  2. Anonymous said on August 19, 2022 at 10:15 pm

    Whoever designed the Firefox tabs needs to be shamed. Its so hideous.

    1. Anonymous said on August 20, 2022 at 3:45 pm


  3. asc said on August 19, 2022 at 7:37 pm

    let’s hope it secures that shit and don’t run any silly code..

  4. webfork said on August 19, 2022 at 5:12 pm

    Makes so much sense to include, kudos to Mozilla.

    I’d also love to see an ability to select your tool of choice. I believe Tesseract OCR for example is free and open source but I know it’s a very big download. So you’d want to download that separately and let Firefox connect to it.

  5. GordanRamsayFanClub said on August 19, 2022 at 4:06 pm

    Have I used one before? Nope. This will be useful for cooking recipes from the best chef in the world, the one and only Gordan Ramsay.

  6. Max said on August 19, 2022 at 3:12 pm

    I’ve used ABBYY Screenshot Reader very regularly in Windows for years – mainly to read text from from PDF extracts & images, sometimes from websites. Highly recommended.

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