ALT text is an HTML element that is added to images. The text describes the image and was generally useful for search engines however, its usage has evolved since then. Alt text can be used to help people who are unable to view an image understand what it is. Accessibility features on an OS and within apps read the text out loud and describe the photo that is shared.
Auto-generated ALT text
ALT text is normally generated by AI and it does a somewhat decent job but if you’re sharing an image on Twitter, you can manually add ALT text to an image and give it a better, more accurate description.
Add ALT text – Twitter Web
To add ALT text to an image you’re sharing from the desktop, follow these steps.
- Visit Twitter in your browser, and click the compose Tweet button.
- Add the images you want to share to the tweet.
- Click ‘Add Description’ under an image.
- Enter a description of the image.
- Compose the rest of your tweet and send it.
Add ALT text – Twitter apps
Users can add ALT text to an image they tweet from the Twitter apps as well. Follow these steps to add the ALT text.
- Open the Twitter app.
- Tap the compose tweet button.
- Select an image (or images) to send with your tweet.
- Once an image has been selected, you will see an ‘ALT’ button on it. Tap it.
- Add a description of the image. It can be 1000 characters long. Try to keep it short and precise.
- When you’re done, send the tweet.
Why add ALT text?
ALT text isn’t really for the benefit of search engines anymore. It may help a search engine but it’s found better use in the form of accessibility features. It takes a few extra seconds to add ALT text to images when you tweet them but for people who are unable to view them, it can make a significant difference.
The Twitter app doesn’t seem to be able to auto-generate ALT text which is why for now, users who add it allow the voice over utility on phones to describe the images for the visually impaired.
Adding ALT text to an image you tweet out isn’t going to give it more visibility nor is it going to get anyone more retweets. It’s a small thing you can do to help make content more accessible for others. It may not be the equivalent of curing cancer or solving world hunger but being able to interact more easily with content always has its benefits.