How to Add Alternative Text to Facebook Photos

When I was chatting with a friend about alternative text (alt text) for images, I asked them if they knew they could add alt text to images on Facebook.

They replied they didn’t know.

I wasn’t surprised.

Though the feature has been out for several years, few people know about it.

Which is why a few years ago, I ran a poll on Facebook and Twitter whether people added alternative text (alt text) to the photos they post on Facebook.

Every person who responded to the poll said they didn’t know they could.

I don’t know why Facebook doesn’t promote their alternative text for images features. It’s something Facebook users had been asking for over the years.

Certainly it didn’t receive the wide publicity that happened when Twitter announced the alternative text feature for images a couple of years prior.

To teach people about the new feature, I published this post with how-to’s for adding alternative text to images in Facebook.

Two years after my first poll, I decided it was time to repeat the poll.

The final results were more positive than the first poll. Not as much movement as I hoped, but small steps.

It’s clear there’s more work to do to educate Facebook users about adding alternative text to images.

I ran the poll this month. Less than one in three Facebook users add alternative text to images. That’s not a lot of progress in two years.

What is Alternative Text?

Alternative text allows you to add text descriptions to photos, diagrams, and illustrations.

It provides more information about the function and content of images.

By adding alternative text, the content is accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired.

Another benefit of alternative text: if an image can’t be downloaded or if a user has disabled images from displaying (as in an email app), the alternative text will display where the image would normally show up.

Alternative text also provides semantic meaning to search engines who can’t “see” images.

How to Add Alternative Text to Photos You Post on Facebook

Assuming you’ve logged into Facebook on the desktop, here’s how to add alternative text to your images.

  1. Select Photo/Video at the top of your News Feed or timeline
  2. Select the photo you want to add
  3. Select Edit Photo (you may need to hover over the photo)
  4. In the photo editing options, select Alternative Text
    Facebook Photo Detail showing options for editing the photo.
  5. Select Custom alt text radio button
    Facebook photo alternative text options
  6. Add your own descriptive alt text in the box
  7. Select Save
  8. Select Done

On iOS and Android, use the following steps to add alternative text:

  1. Add the photo to your post (alternative text is added)
  2. Visit the post on Facebook
  3. Tap the three-dot option in the top right
  4. Tap Edit Alt Text
  5. The auto-generated text displays
  6. Tap Override generated alt text
  7. Type your own alt text in the box
  8. Tap Save

Summary

Adding alternative text to Facebook images makes your images accessible to everyone.

I hope my instructions will encourage you to take the time to add custom alternative text to your Facebook images.

Did you know Facebook allowed you to add alternative text to images? Have you used it?

Originally published on June 4, 2018, updated April 3, 2020, and April 14, 2021.

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About the Author

Deborah Edwards-Onoro helps small businesses, consultants, nonprofits, and higher ed with creative and distinctive websites. Deborah shares her expertise with web design, user experience, and accessibility on her blog, social media, and at meetup events. As organizer of Refresh Detroit, West Metro Detroit WordPress, and Metro Detroit WordPress, she encourages members to share their knowledge and experiences. In her free time, you'll find her birding, shooting photos, reading, or watching tennis.

4 thoughts on “How to Add Alternative Text to Facebook Photos”

  1. Great article Deborah!
    We also did some testing on the alt text and found some surprise results regarding who is identified by the automatic alt text and other ways the alt text gets used.

    We shared them in a blog post.

  2. Thank you, Jennie.

    Appreciate you sharing your blog post about Facebook image descriptions and alt text. Your post goes into more detail on how Facebook determines what to add to their image description, as well as privacy issues we all need to be aware of when writing alt text. Thank you!

  3. Deborah – it seems that Facebook has made a change and no longer allows you to edit the alt text when originally posting an image, at least that is what I am seeing today on my Windows PC. After a post is made, I can go back to the photo, click Options, and choose Edit Alt Text, but I see no way to touch the alt text when making the original post.

  4. Hi Greg,

    Thanks for your comment. Can you tell me what browser you used when you tried to edit the text? I just tested it again, in Chrome on a Windows PC. I was able to edit alt text when I made a new post with an image.

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