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In this paper, an adaptive edge-based text detection approach in images and video frames is proposed. The proposed approach can adopt different edge detection methods according to the image background complexity. It mainly consists of four stages: Firstly, images are classified into different background complexities. Secondly, different edge detectors are applied on the images according to their background complexities. Thirdly, connected component analysis is adopted on the edge image to obtain text candidates. Finally, the text candidates undergo the refinement algorithm to find the exact position. Experimental results demonstrate that the proposed approach is robust to text size and could effectively detect text lines in images and video frames in both simple background and complex background.