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How to Translate Images with Google Translate

Written by Ananda Ganesha M

In today's digital age, tasks can be completed quickly and easily, and translation is no exception. Google Translate, launched in 2004, has evolved significantly from its early days when online translation tools were uncommon and often inaccurate.

Now, thanks to advancements in machine learning technology, Google Translate provides translation quality that closely resembles human translation. This improvement is partly due to the contributions of human volunteers who help enhance the accuracy of translations.

Moreover, Google Translate can translate not just documents but also images containing text. How does this work? Well, Carisinyal will explain how to use Google Translate to translate images to make your tasks easier. Follow the steps below!

1. Install Google Translate

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First, download the Google Translate app if it's not already on your device. You can get it from the Google Play Store or by following this link.

After the installation is complete, open the app. Set the primary language you use most frequently, for example, Indonesian. You will need to grant certain permissions, especially for the camera.

2. Choose the Camera Menu

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Once the app is open, press the camera button to start translating. There are several options available: Instant, Scan, and Import. Choosing Instant allows you to translate text in real-time directly on the screen as the camera detects it.

If you select Scan, the app will scan the document to detect the text. You can then choose which part or all of the text to translate. Unlike the Instant option, Scan lets you select the translation results for copying or editing later.

3. Choose the Import Menu

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The final option for translating images is Import. This feature allows you to upload images or photos stored in your gallery to be scanned using OCR (Optical Character Recognition) technology.

To use this, select the Import menu and choose the image containing the text you want to translate. A small box will appear around the text, allowing you to highlight the specific parts you want to translate with a simple touch.

4. Tap the Arrow to Translate

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After marking the text, tap the arrow displayed above. This will take you to the Google Translate interface, where the original text appears at the top and the translation at the bottom.

Keep in mind that Google Translate's OCR technology may occasionally misinterpret text. For example, the word "eat" might be detected as "momakan" due to the angle of the photo, the resolution, or the font type.

If there are only a few errors, you can edit and correct them individually. However, if there are many mistakes, you might need to retake the picture from a different angle.


Now you've successfully translated the image. The translation can be edited, copied, or shared as needed. Not too difficult, right?

Tips for Translating Images Using Google Translate

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Google Translate's technology makes it easy to translate images, but sometimes the process isn't perfect, and words are detected incorrectly.

Here are some tips to help optimize your image translation experience.

1. Pay attention to the angle when taking pictures

The angle at which you take the picture affects how well the text is read. If the angle or distance isn't right, the characters in the picture can vary in size, making it hard for the app to detect the text. Try to hold the camera straight when taking pictures.

2. Make sure the writing on the image is clearly legible

Other factors can also make the text hard to read, like a slight movement when taking the photo, which can cause blur. Some characters, such as "q" and "g," look similar and need to be clear to be detected correctly. Wait for the camera to focus before taking the picture.

3. Make the background and writing colors more contrasting

When the colors of the text and background are similar, especially in low light, the app may struggle to recognize the writing. You might edit the photo to make the text and background more contrasting or convert it to black and white to improve detection.

4. Scanning is better than photographing

Photographed text is often harder to detect due to angle, lighting, and other issues. A simpler solution is to use a hardware scanner on the document you want to translate. While scanning isn't as convenient as taking a photo, it produces clear and readable images.

You can also use a scanner app on your phone to automatically adjust the angle, but it’s still not as effective as a traditional scanner.

These steps can help you translate images using Google Translate. Currently, this feature is only available on Android and iOS devices.

Hopefully, Google Translate will bring this feature to PCs in the future, either on its website or through a special application. If you've tried it, share your experience in the comments. For those who haven't, good luck!

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