How to Access and Use Emoji on your MacOs

Emoji are extremely popular picture characters and emoticons that are an integral part of Japanese tech culture and communication, and now that they are included in modern versions of OS X, the Emoji character set is available to everyone on a Mac regardless of your localization settings.

Emoji are quickly taking the world by storm with their inclusion on the iPhone and iPad keyboards as well, and using them on the Mac is a fun way to emphasize dialog and messaging between people. Some of the characters are pretty funny so even if you have no intention of using them they’re fun to browse through.

The Emoji character panel may look slightly different in the variety of versions of OS X, but they all have the same basic character support of several hundred emoji. Newer versions of OS X (and iOS) have added even more Emoji icons, with skin tone variations and much more, bringing the total number into many hundreds of emoji options. Most have Unicode support too, which is great for cross-platform compatibility.

The same basic method of accessing, using, and typing Emoji icons on a Mac works the same in all versions of OS X, whether OS X Yosemite, Mavericks, Mountain Lion, or Lion, it’s all the same. Below is the step by step guide on how to access and use emoji:

Step 1:

From almost any Mac OS X app that allows keyboard input –

Step 2:

From the character choices –

Step 3:

Select the character you want to use and either drag and drop the Emoji character into a text field, or double-click on the icon in the “Font Variation” menu on the right. Most applications support Emoji characters at this point, though you may notice some third-party applications will not recognize Emoji characters though this is increasingly rare in OS X.

If the app doesn’t support Emoji display, nothing will be shown, and similarly if an emoji icon is sent to a user who doesn’t have a Mac or iOS device that supports emoji, nothing will be shown for them either, at best it will be a boring old square box instead of the color icon. Keep that in mind if you’re sending messages or posting the emoticons to the web, since a lot of other people using older Macs and Windows machines won’t be able to see them the same way as you do. There are hundreds of Emoji characters available in the character selector screen, they’re visible in both iOS and OS X too.

How to Quickly Type Emoji on Mac with a Keyboard Shortcut

If you use Emoji characters often in Mac OS X, you’ll enjoy knowing there is a very fast keystroke to immediately access a special Mac Emoji character panel from anywhere text entry is possible in Mac OS.

Additionally, you can navigate within this quick Emoji panel entirely with the keyboard, which makes typing Emoji on the Mac quite a bit faster than using the traditional Emoji character access panel.

The Mac Emoji keyboard shortcut is really easy to remember: Command + Control + Spacebar

Hitting that key combination will immediately bring up a little Emoji-only character panel. Below is the step:

  1. Place the cursor where you can enter text on a Mac
  2. Press Command + Control + Spacebar concurrently to bring up the Emoji quick type panel
  3. Select your emoji to immediately type it on the Mac

Once the Emoji character panel is shown on screen, you can use the arrow keys to navigate around in the Emoji icon set, then hit the Return key to place the selected Emoji character into the document, text box, message, or where ever else you are typing on the Mac. That means you can access, type, and place Emoji, without your hands ever leaving the keyboard.

The quick Emoji panel and accompanying keyboard shortcut requires a modern version of OS X, versioned at 10.10 or later. Prior releases of Mac OS X support Emoji, but not in the same quick access panel or with the same keystroke.