Access and Use Emoji in Mac OS X

Aug 20, 2011 - 31 Comments

use Emoji in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion

Emoji are extremely popular picture characters and emoticons that are an integral part of Japanese tech culture and communication, and now with OS X Lion onward (yes, Mountain Lion and 10.9 too), the Emoji character set is available to everyone on a Mac regardless of your localization settings. They’re 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 on using them they’re fun to browse through.

  • From almost any Mac OS X app, select the “Edit” menu and pull down to “Special Characters”, or hit Command+Option+T
  • From the character choices, click on “Emoji” and then choose a set: People, Nature, Objects, Places, Symbols
  • Emoji Character Selector in Mac OS X Lion

  • 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

You’ll notice that not all third-party applications will accept or recognize Emoji characters, but all of the OS X compatible apps that come from Apple do and most apps updated for Lion & Mountain Lion and beyond should too.

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.
Outside of the Mac and onto the mobile side of things, Emoji is included from iOS 5 onward for everyone too, meaning any iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch will be able to see and send the icons the same.

Have fun!

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks


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  1. Emowhat says:

    Shows up for me in Safari 5.1, but I can’t think of any genuine use for these.


  2. ๐Ÿ’ฉ says:

    the poop icon is the best one ๐Ÿ’ฉ ๐Ÿ’ฉ ๐Ÿ’ฉ ๐Ÿ’ฉ
    ๐Ÿ’ฉ ๐Ÿ’ฉ ๐Ÿ’ฉ ๐Ÿ’ฉ ๐Ÿ’ฉ ๐Ÿ’ฉ ๐Ÿ’ฉ ๐Ÿ’ฉ ๐Ÿ’ฉ ๐Ÿ’ฉ ๐Ÿ’ฉ ๐Ÿ’ฉ ๐Ÿ’ฉ ๐Ÿ’ฉ ๐Ÿ’ฉ

  3. cee202 says:


    thx for the post!! very helpful!

  4. ๐Ÿ‘ says:


  5. EldRick says:

    These won’t show up in anything but Lion or iOS – your Windows friends and anyone without the font won’t see your cutesies…

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  8. D Solomon says:

    I prefer msn’s emoticons. More facial expression emojis would be great ๐Ÿ˜œ๐Ÿ˜

  9. slferris says:

    I drag an Emoji character to a Pages document, but only a blank “appears”. Working with Lion 10.7.2 and Pages ’09, ver. 4.1.

  10. […] with a Mac user, as long as they are running 10.7 they can also see the graphical icons because Emoji support was added to OS X Lion as […]

  11. Max Murrey says:

    Super helpful! Thanks

  12. Lerche says:

    I use the normal Mail Programm in my iMac. How can I use simples from emoji in the emailprogramm?

  13. […] that the Mac has native Emoji support, you can set up text substitutions to automatically convert specific text to emoji when typing […]

  14. AdventTech67 says:

    No offense to the writer or whomever, but the use of EMOJI icons have been in use since OS X 10.4 You don’t need Lion for this.

  15. AdventTech67 says:


  16. ๐Ÿ˜ธ says:

    I love Emoji 2… Does it have that too?

  17. sue says:

    how do i get more characters with g-mail?

  18. sue says:


  19. Extensor says:

    ๐Ÿ˜ Thanks for the tip. I had been accessing emoji the long way, so really never used it. ๐Ÿ˜Š

  20. Randy says:

    ๐Ÿ˜Œ I haven’t seen this face before.โ•โ”๐Ÿ‘

  21. […] down the “Edit” menu and select “Special Characters”, then select “Emoji” from the left side menu to access all available […]

  22. […] Emoji on the Mac has been around from OS X Lion onward, and new characters were added to OS X Mountain Lion alongside those added to iOS 6. Each additional iOS and OS X release will probably bring more characters too. […]

  23. […] versions of OS X support typing many Emoji characters this way, which can be found under the Emoji submenu of the […]

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