Alt text on Facebook

For a long time, Facebook has provided an easy way to add alt text to images that users upload to their feed. Whether or not you choose to do this will depend on various factors:

If you don't add alt text to your images, Facebook will usually automatically generate alt text. Sometimes this is pretty good and will give a screen reader user a good idea of what the picture is. Sometimes though, it is way off!

If Facebook does generate alt text, it will begin with, "May be an image of..." and then it may well just list items or objects. If it cannot come up with anything, it will simply say, "No photo description available.". For this reason, it is better to write your own alt text.

Adding alt text to new images

It is usually better to give your images alt text as you upload them. Here is how you do it:

  1. Start uploading your photo but before posting, select Edit.
    Screenshot of upload window with edit circled.
  2. Select Alternative text.
    Screenshot of the photo detail box with alternative text circled.
  3. Check the radio button for custom alt text and type your alt text in the edit box.
    Screenshot of alt text in the edit box, reading: Liggy looking out to see between two sand dunes.
  4. Select Save.
  5. Finish writing your post and select Post.

Adding alt text to existing images

I recently uploaded some holiday photos to Facebook. At the time, I didn't add alt text. So what did Facebook come up with and do I want to change it? Here is one of my photos:

Lighthouse at the end of a pier stretching out to sea. The top of a ferry is just in view behind the pier.

The automatically generated alt text on Facebook said, May be an image of an ocean. That is totally insufficient. I definitely need to change it. I want to change the alt text to say, Lighthouse at the end of a pier stretching out to sea. The top of a ferry is just in view behind the pier.

To change my alt text, here's what I need to do:

  1. Open the photo, so that the photo is on the left and comments are on the right.
  2. Select the three dots to open the Actions for this post menu.
    Screenshot of the actions for this post menu, with change alt text circled
  3. Select Change alt text.
  4. Type your own alt text into the text box.
    Screenshot of text box with my better alt text in it.
  5. Select Save.

That's all there is to it. It is so easy to add in some alt text and ensure that if any of your friends are blind (either now or in the future) they will be able to enjoy your photos too.