How to Quickly Type Emoji on Mac with a Keyboard Shortcut

May 27, 2015 - 35 Comments

Emoji keyboard shortcut on Mac OS X

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.

How to Type Emoji on Mac the Fast Way

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. Try it yourself:

  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

Emoji quick type access panel in Mac OS X accessed by a keyboard shortcut

Yes it’s that fast and that easy to type Emoji on the Mac now!

The Emoji-only character panel is basically a condensed version of the larger Special Characters panel, and limited exclusively to the Emoji icon set.

The Mac Quick Emoji Keystroke: Command + Control + Space

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.

You’ll also find a simple Emoji search option in this Emoji panel, so you quickly search for emoji icons by name or characters by description or meaning, and access them that way as well. Much like the traditional Emoji panel, you can click-and-hold on many icons to access the different skin tones.

To be clear, the Emoji characters shown here are the same, this is basically just a quicker keyboard shortcut method to access the Emoji character set than turning to the traditional method from the Edit menu, which will expand into a full sized Special Characters menu with Emoji icons alongside all other special characters available to Mac OS X.

The quick Emoji panel and accompanying keyboard shortcut requires a modern version of MacOS or Mac 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.


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


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  1. Julie Andrew says:

    Now i can send many more emojis with the help of you. Thank you.

  2. josh says:

    You are a lifesaver, thanks for the help.

  3. Emad says:

    Thank you this is fantastic

  4. Aj says:

    Is there a way or shortcut to just type :) then the emoji would appear on TextEdit. It’s a waste of time to press something than just type :) for the emoji. I could not find much tutorial on this. Sorry but I think it is a waste of time to press too many buttons for a smiley to appear on my time TextEdit. Your help is much appreciated. Thanks.

  5. Alex says:

    Works on 10.9.5 too! Thanks!

  6. Hamza Sheikh says:

    LOL. 😂 I was trying hard and hard to figure this out. And now, I can use it :D Thanks! 🤗

  7. Liz says:

    what is the easies way to get the emojis om my Mac

  8. person says:

    how do u do more than one emoji? everytime i type one the list of them goes away and i have to click it again to type another one

  9. Alex says:

    It does bring up the emoji panel, but the cursor is still in the app (for example Messages) before I hit this key combo, so the arrow keys or search doesn’t work. I need to use the mouse to move the window focus to the emoji panel, which is very inconvenient. Is there a keyboard shortcut to change the focus?

  10. Kent says:

    Interesting. I use Google Mail in Chrome Browser. When I open a compose window the Control-Command-Space bar brings up Emoji in the “To:” line but not in the Body text window. non of the above keyboard shortcuts seem to bring up the Emoji window. 😁

    Anybody have any thoughts?

    • Pablo says:

      The emoji panel should follow your mouse cursor, so if your cursor is in the “To” line it would appear there, “Subject” would appear there, and if the cursor is in the “Body” section, it should appear there. Try tabbing or clicking into the Body section, or type a word or two in the Body section, then use the Emoji shortcut to type the Emoji in the email Body from Chrome Gmail. I use Gmail and Chrome too, so I can confirm it works just fine.


      • Kent says:

        Thanks and it is quite odd. I did as you suggested both in Chrome gmail and in Safari.
        Had no problems in email section nor in subject section. but body section wouldn’t work. dunno why. maybe some setting? 😂

    • Don’t know if image code are supported here, but I’ll try:

      First check the name of the menu point (here in Chrome)

      Open “System Preferences” – “Keyboard” – “Shortcuts”, and add (+) the global name for the Emoji panel, exactly same spelling and casing as in the first picture. Add your preferred shortcut. This will work as long as the shortcut is not conflicting with any other shortcuts in the current app you are using.


  11. Nancy says:

    I’m running OS X 10.10.3.
    Command + Control + Space opens the full-sized Character Viewer.

    • Fnordmeister says:

      Me, too. (The solution above is to then click on the upper right-hand corner of the CV, to get just Emojis.)

      As a side issue, why can’t I switch between the CV and a window in (say) Safari? If I have to type a$b$c, where $ are special Unicode characters, I have to double-click on the characters in the CV (which gives me something like abc$$), close CV, then go back to Safari, and copy-and-paste the Unicode characters into the correct places.

      Can’t Safari and other apps offer a smaller CV? I think Open Office does it that way.

    • Bungus says:

      Click the little icon in the corner of the full sized character viewer to enable the Emoji shortcut panel.

  12. Grey says:

    For me, (10.10.2):

    Command + Control + Spacebar invokes a compact window (like shown in this article) but it only has my “recently used” emoji — instead of the more useful panel with “recently used” at the top and a scrolling emoji library below.


  13. Otto says:

    Same as Rudy:
    Doesn’t work for me on OS X 10.10.3.
    Option+Command+T works.

  14. Gay Alson says:

    I just upgraded from Snow Leopard to 10.10.3 and neither the above shortcut nor the “Emoji & Symbols” command on the Edit menu (used to be Special Characters) works. Although the panel opens, double-clicking any emoji or other symbols does nothing. I researched this and learned that I needed to install a font called “Symbola” which I did. Still no joy. :(

  15. Alan Power says:

    This command line brings up the Spotlight Search Bar !

    • Pablo says:

      Command+Space brings up Spotlight, Command+Control+Space brings up Emoji Panel

      The control key modifier is important. If you changed the command you will see what it is in the Edit menu at the bottom for “Emoji”

  16. Rudy says:

    Doesn’t work for me on OS X 10.10.3.
    Option+Command+T works.

  17. Phil says:

    Not for me. “Command+Ctrl+Space” brings up the larger special characters panel.

  18. David Hare says:

    I was interested to read that ….

    If you use Emoji characters often in 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 OS X.

    … except Microsoft Office, which pretty much comprises the applications I use all day. Are Word and Outlook not places where “text entry is possible in OS X”?

    Or have I missed something?


    • fifa lol says:

      The new Office for Mac beta supports the Emoji panel, the old versions do not. MS beats to their own drum, or marches to their own beat, or whatever you call it, LOL. Anyway, Mac has the Emoji, you can put it into your clipboard, then paste it into Office in older versions if need be.

      Or access the special character panel from Office on Mac, you can do that too.

    • Margot says:

      you also have to copy the emoji on to whatever document you want the emojis on. Just highlight the emoji and press command C, and then put your curser on the document and press command V. Home that helps! 😘

  19. Sean G says:

    On older Macs you can use command+shift+T for the special character panel and then choose Emoji, not at all the same, but there is at least still a shortcut for all versions of OS X with Emoji support.

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