Mac Productivity

How to Type Emojis on a Mac

Khamosh Pathak 07-08-2017

Every major messaging app on iOS 7 Free Chat Apps for Messaging on Your Phone or Computer Want to send messages from your phone and PC? Use these free chat apps to continue the conversation wherever you go! Read More has a dedicated emoji button. Third-party keyboard apps like Gboard You Can Now Draw Your Own Emoji in Gboard Gboard for Android is now capable of recognizing your hand-drawn emoji. This is just one of a number of improvements Google has made to its keyboard app for Android users. Read More  even have emoji suggestions built-in (and modded Gboard can even send iPhone emojis on Android How to View & Send the New iOS 9.1 Emojis on Android Tired of seeing little boxes when your iPhone-using friends send you emojis? Well, no more. Now you can have all the emojis on your Android device too! Read More ). When you’re used to these emoji features on your iPhone, continuing conversations on a Mac is sometimes a struggle.


How do you type an emoji when you’re quote retweeting on Twitter, or when you’re too busy to type an actual reply in your group chat? If you have a MacBook Pro with Touch Bar, the emoji picker for the Messages app will show up automatically. But what about the rest of us?

There are multiple ways you can match iOS’s emoji game on your Mac — and in some cases, even surpass it using text shortcuts.

1. Search on Emojipedia

emojipedia emoji apps mac

As someone who didn’t grow up using emojis, Emojipedia is a life saver. As the name suggests, it’s the emoji encyclopedia. It lists every emoji known the mankind, with a handy shortcut to copy one.

emojipedia emoji apps mac 2


What I like the most about the website are the search and categorization features. It’s really easy to find the emoji I’m looking for (that I don’t know of) using descriptive search. Sometimes, when I’m writing something, or I’m in the middle of a conversation, searching on Emojipedia gets me better and faster results.

2. Use the Built-In Emoji Picker

If you’re a longtime Mac user, you might know about the built-in emoji picker. When your cursor is active in a text field, use the keyboard shortcut Cmd + Ctrl + Space to bring up the emoji picker.

mac emoji picker 2

It will show up as a popup (similar to the Dictionary function Expand Your Mac's Dictionary App by Adding Additional Languages Whether you're bilingual or just learning a new language, adding more dictionaries to your Mac is easy. Read More ) and you’ll be able to browse and select emojis you want to enter. As you’d expect, they’re sorted in categories and you’ll find your frequently used section at the top. You can expand this section to view more categories and different symbols.


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Emoji Pro Tip: If you don’t want to (or can’t remember) the keyboard shortcut, enable the emoji viewer menu bar button. Go to System Preferences -> Keyboard and enable Show keyboard and emoji in menu bar. Click the newly added icon, select Show Emoji & Symbols and you’ll be looking at the familiar emoji picker.

emoji picker mac 4

3. Use Rocket for Quick Emoji Typing

Rocket brings Slack-style emoji typing to your entire Mac. If you’re not a part of a Slack group, the app has a rather smart way of typing emojis. Instead of picking a single emoji from a list of hundreds, you type a colon and then the shortcut for the corresponding emoji (which is usually descriptive of the emoji itself).


For instance, “:thumbsup” gives you a like emoji. Now, once you’ve installed Rocket on your Mac, you can get the same treatment in any messaging app.

Rocket emoji app

The free version of the app is quite limited. But if you pay the $4.99 fee, you’ll unlock full emoji search, a GIF pack, and more importantly, the ability to add custom shortcuts for emojis and GIFs so you don’t have to adhere to Rocket’s nomenclature.

4. Use Text Expansion Shortcuts

If you don’t want to install a third party app like Rocket, we can use the built in Text Replacement feature to achieve the same effect. Text Replacement feature lets you expand shortcuts to long phrases of text What Is Text Expansion & How Can It Help You Save Time? If you could save yourself even a small fraction of the time you spend typing, you could save hours of your time every week. That's exactly what text expansion is for. Read More , which can be a huge time saver. We can use the same feature for emojis.


Open System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Text and click on the + button. In the Replace section, type in the shortcut text. In the With section, paste in the emoji (from Emojipedia, for example). Next time you type in that shortcut, it will be replaced by emoji. Do this for the couple of emojis you use frequently.

emoji text replacement mac

We can speed this process by adding a preconfigured database of emojis to the Text Replacement feature. Download Macmoji plist file, change the extension to .plist and drag it over to the Text tab in Keyboard section in System Preferences. You now have hundreds of emojis added here. And you’re free to change the shortcut.

macmoji mac emoji apps

If you’re a TextExpander user, you can do the same by subscribing to Emoji Cheat Sheet public group (or add individual emojis as snippets on your own). You’ll see a new section show up in the sidebar. You can browse through and change the abbreviations for emojis as well.

textexpander mac emoji apps

5. Create Custom Emojis for Slack

Now that your entire Mac is on the same level as Slack when it comes to emojis, it’s time to step up your Slack emoji game. Let’s add custom emojis to Slack. There’s already a repository where you can find new and interesting animated emojis in Slack compatible formats. Go to Slackmojis, look for the emojis you want to add and download them to your Mac.

slackmojis mac emoji apps

Next, open Slack, select your team and from the top-left, click on Customize Slack. From this page, and select the Emoji tab.

Slack custom emojis

Here, click on Choose File to upload your image and give it a name (which will be its shortcut). Save the emoji and you’re all set. If you have Chrome installed Safari vs. Chrome for Mac: 9 Reasons You Shouldn't Use Chrome Between Safari and Chrome on Mac, Safari is the clear winner. Here's why you should avoid using Google Chrome on Mac. Read More , you can use the Slack Emoji Tools extension to upload emojis in bulk (just double-check the names before uploading as they’ll be the shortcuts).

And Now, GIFs!

Whether it’s subtweeting on Twitter or a fiery group chat with your friends, emojis and GIFs go hand in hand. Now that you’ve figured out the emoji part, let’s move on to GIFs. Want to make one? Use GIPHY’s Capture app or GIF Brewery 3.

When it comes to sending them, try PopKey for Mac [No Longer Available]. It’s a simple menu bar utility that lets you search, copy and send GIFs no matter which app, website or service you’re using.

What does your emoji workflow on the Mac look like? What are your favorite emojis? Share with us in the comments below.

Image Credit: vectorfusionart via

Related topics: Emojis, Keyboard Shortcuts, Mac Tricks.

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