You could just write all your emails, Twitter posts, and Facebook missives in plain old text, but where’s the fun in that? Monkeys, planes, and cups of coffee are where it’s at these days, and they’re all just a click away, thanks to emoji. If you’re a Mac or iOS user, setting up these icons (which originally hail from Japan) is dead simple.
Hi, this is senior editor Dan Moren. While the old colon-dash-close-parentheses smiley face may be universal, emoticons are so 20th century. You’ve probably run across emoji, the small icons that now pop up on the Web, in emails, and of course, on Twitter. Maybe you’ve even wondered how you can populate your own social networking posts with an adorable Home Alone kitten face.
Fortunately, both OS X and iOS support the use of emoji characters, and in both cases it’s pretty easy to set up. Let me walk you through it.
On the Mac side, if you’re running OS X Mavericks, accessing emoji is never more than a menu (or keyboard shortcut) away in most apps. Just go to the Edit menu and choose Special Characters. While this used to summon a palette of special ASCII characters, in Mavericks it’s been converted to a full assortment of emoji. They’re organized into loose categories, like People, Nature, Objects, Places, and Symbols.
To use an emoji, just find the one you want and give it a click. If you’re not sure if there’s an emoji for something, you can even search the list of symbols by scrolling down and revealing a search box. Once you’ve used an emoji, it shows up in the first pane, which catalogs your recently used icons.
If there are icons you find yourself going back to time and time again—I’m looking at you, speak-no-evil monkey face—you can also add them to a Favorites section, though this requires activating the larger character palette by clicking on the icon next to the search field. There you can browse through both emoji and ASCII symbols; select any emoji and you’ll see an Add to Favorites button. Clicking that will put it in the first pane, under a sub-heading of “Favorites.” To remove an emoji icon from your Favorites, just follow the same steps; the Add to Favorites button will now read Remove from Favorites.
On iOS, setting up emoji is almost as simple. Just take a trip to Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards and tap Add New Keyboard. Scroll down until you find emoji and select it. Now, any time you bring up the keyboard, you’ll see a globe icon to the left of the spacebar. Tap it once to toggle between the Latin keyboard and the emoji keyboard, or tap and hold to get a menu of all the keyboards you’ve installed.
As on OS X, iOS’s emoji are divided into categories, with the first pane showing your most recently used icons. Unfortunately, iOS currently doesn’t support the same Favorites option as OS X, and there’s as of yet no search—so you’ll just have to remember where that sad panda is.
And a final tip: Should you happen to use local search tool Yelp, you can even search its directory of places via emoji. Just in case you need coffee so badly that you can’t remember the word for it. This is senior editor Dan Moren, thanks for watching.