Memos app makes the text in your photo library searchable


Memos recognizes pretty much everything.
Memos recognizes pretty much everything.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Memos is a new iOS app that scans your entire photo library, looking for text. That text could be a shop sign in a vacation photo, a paragraph from a magazine page you snapped, or the entirety of a screenshot of a newspaper article. It could be a Wi-Fi password jotted onto a scrap of paper, or a logo on a t-shirt label.

The app is far from perfect, but it’s already amazing.

Memos: OCR for your photo library

The first time you use Memos, it needs to scan your Photo library. This is done entirely on your device. The developers’ privacy policy says that “Memos does not transmit any images or associated metadata. All processing is done on your device.”

You'll be amazed at what Memos can find in your photos.
You’ll be amazed at what Memos can find in your photos.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac


This initial scan takes a while. Quite a long while, in fact. I’ve been running it on an iPad Pro for an hour or two and it’s still nowhere near finishing. It also crashes a lot.

Even so, the results are impressive. You can scroll through the images that have text in them, and that text is surrounded by a green box. I was at a music even last week, and I grabbed a photo of the venue from the internet afterwards. Memos saw the sign on a store opposite, tiny in the photo, and viewed through the window.


It also picked out a brand label on a cello case in a photo I took on a metro station the other week.

Screenshots are recognized perfectly.
Screenshots are recognized perfectly.
Photo: Cult of Mac


You can search on this text, too, so finding a restaurant from your vacation because you remember a dish on the menu you photographed is possible.

Once you’ve found a photo, just tap the green box to copy the text within. You can preview the text — it’s shown under the image in the export panel — and the OCR (optical character recognition) is pretty good. If you copy the text from a screenshot of a web page, then the OCR is all but perfect. It even does a decent job on hand-written text, skewed or tilted in the image.

You can also bookmark images, add custom boxes for text that wasn’t found, and add your own text notes.

In all, I’m impressed. I wish this was built-in to the iOS Photos app, but this will do, and for just $5, you can’t go wrong.

Memos – Photographic Memory

Price: $4.99

Download: Memos – Photographic Memory from the App Store (iOS)