Every major messaging app on iOS has a dedicated emoji button. Third party keyboard apps like Gboard even have emoji suggestions built-in. 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 Touchbar, 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
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.
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.
It will show up as a popup (similar to the Dictionary function) 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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
Next, open Slack, select your team and from the top-left, click on Customize Slack. From this page, and select the Emoji tab.
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, 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. 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 Shutterstock.com