How to translate pictures online?

Images are in the center of communication nowadays. Learn how to translate pictures online and improve the quality of your translation services, work or travel experiences.
Rodrigo Demetrio
10 min
Table of Contents

Imagine that you are taking a course in a different language from yours, and the course may have the text well translated, but when it comes to examples, photographs, case demonstrations... A small trap! Many texts within images that you don't understand, creating a gap in learning. That could have been avoided if the course manager had in mind that translating pictures is equally important to provide a complete immersion in a foreign language.

This is valid not only for education and courses. The world is full of images and symbols, and there's no escaping that. Whether it's because you're on a trip and need to understand menus and street signs, or because you want to understand only a chapter of an interesting book. Or maybe because you're the one offering a translation service with material that contains many images. 

Don’t worry, there are many tools in hand to make these pictures translations easier for everyone. Here are some examples to get the job done.

Using apps and websites

  • Google Translator

The famous Google Translator can also be used for image translations. Both the mobile app and the web version allow image translation. In the app, the cool thing is that you can import photos from your album or take a picture. The translation is made in seconds.

Just choose the image, select a language or detect it automatically. See the example of translating a cover of the book "Buen Vivir" by the Ecuadorian author Alberto Acosto (Elefante Publisher). The Portuguese version of the book cover was used, and the translation was requested for the languages: English, Spanish, French, and German.

A very cool feature of the app and the website is that it allows you to hear the text in the translated language. You can also select the text and send it elsewhere, such as the program's homepage.

Another application from the same company is Google Lens, which offers image translations following the same procedures.

Interesting: Note that the original title in Spanish, the author's native language, was maintained in the translation of the back cover text.

Yandex Translate

Yandex is a website that also allows efficient image translation in more than 100 languages. To use it, the procedure is quite similar to other sites: just click on the "images" tab at the top of the site, upload the file, and select the input and output languages.

After translation, it allows you to download the image or open the content as text, allowing you to copy it to another document.

Check the translation of a health information poster about the use of the rapid covid-19 test, translated from Chinese to English.

Image translation on the Yandex Translate website.

Translating with iPhone

For those using an iPhone, image translation is facilitated with the device's own features. You can translate with the phone camera using the Apple Translate app that comes pre-installed. No need to download any extra apps. 

Just open the Translate app on the iPhone and tap on Camera. At the top of the screen, select the languages you want to translate between. Then just position the phone, take the photo, and wait for the translation. 

Like image translation websites, you can copy and paste the text into another document, save the translated image, and listen to the text in the input and output languages. You can also do the same procedure with images already in your photo library.

But the procedure can be even simpler. You can also use Live Text in the Camera app. Just point the camera at a photo or image with text and tap the 'Live Text' button." However, it is only available for Iphone XS, iPhone XR or posterior with iOS 15 or higher versions.

Live Text on Iphone. Image by

Very useful for a trip to a foreign-language country, isn't it?

Translations of Graphic Pieces for Advertising

Did you know that it's possible to translate graphic pieces into other languages with ease?

Graphic design platforms like Canva allow you to expand the target audience of your communication by translating it into various languages.

In the Canva side panel, select Apps and look for the Translate app. Alternatively, search the More from Canva section and select the Translate app. A screen like the one below will appear. Just select the language you want to translate into. Pages for the output languages will be added after the one you have already created.

Check out the test we did translating an experimental graphic piece from Bureau Works about our solutions for translators' page. We translated from English to Afrikaans (one of the official languages of South Africa) and Italian. See the example below.

Translating Graphic Pieces in Canva 
Translating Graphic Pieces in 3 languages

OCR: Optical Character Recognition

Many of the apps and sites we mentioned use OCR technology. What is OCR? It stands for Optical Character Recognition. It consists of technology that recognizes characters in images and converts them into legible machine text.

To use the technology, you need an "input mode" — a way to send the document to the computer — which can be a scanner or even your phone's camera.

It's possible to transform documents of different types, such as PDF, TIFF, GIF, PNG, or JPG, into text files.

Software with these technologies is useful not only in the translation niche but also for document digitization, such as digitizing a library's book collection.

In summary, image translation greatly facilitates workflow, business, studies, travel and many other activities. It can optimize the experience with a foreign language and even information storage. Explore the tips for apps and websites to ensure more efficient global communication in this era where verbal and visual language increasingly complement each other.

Rodrigo Demetrio
Steering the marketing ship at Bureau Works with 17+ years of MarTech under my belt, I transform mere ideas into tangible realities. Passionate about languages and their power to build bridges, let's build a new one?
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