How to Add Emoji to Your iPhone Keyboard

Add emoji to iPhone
Accessing the multicultural emoji in iOS 8.3.
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One of the great things about texting is being able to send smiley faces and other funny faces along with icons to punctuate your messages and express yourself. These icons are known as emoji. There are dozens of apps (opens iTunes) that can add emoji to your iPhone or iPod touch, but you don't need those apps. There are hundreds of these icons built into the iPhone for free and with a few simple steps, you can start using them to make your messages more colorful and fun.

Enabling Emoji on iPhone

The option to enable emoji on your iPhone is a bit hidden. That's because it's not as simple as moving a slider to turn them on. Instead, you have to add a whole new keyboard option (the iOS treats emoji as a set of characters, like the letters of the alphabet). By default, your iPhone or iPod touch uses the keyboard layout for the language you chose for your device when you set it up, but it can use more than one keyboard layout at a time. Because of that, you can add the emoji keyboard and have it available at all times. 

To enable this specialized keyboard on iPhone or iPod touch (and iPad) running iOS 7 and higher: 

  1. Go to the Settings app
  2. Tap General
  3. Tap Keyboard
  4. Tap Keyboards
  5. Tap Add New Keyboard
  6. Swipe through the list until you find Emoji. Tap it.

On the Keyboards screen, you'll now see the default language you chose at set up as well as Emoji. This means you've enabled emoji and are ready to use then.

Using Emoji

Once you've enabled this setting, you can use emoji in practically any app that lets you type using the onscreen keyboard (you can't use them in apps that don't use the keyboard or that use their own custom keyboard). Some of the common apps you may use them in include Messages, Notes, and Mail.

When the keyboard appears now, to the left of the space bar, you'll see a small key that looks like a globe. This is the emoji key. Tap it and the many, many emoji options appear.

You'll see three or six rows of icons, depending on what version of the iOS you're running. You can swipe this panel left and right to see other options. At the bottom of the screen are a number of icons. Tap these to move through different categories of emoji. The iOS includes smiley faces, things from nature (flowers, bugs, etc.), day-to-day objects like cameras, phones and pills, houses, cars and other vehicles, and symbols and icons. 

To add an emoji to your messages, tap where you want the icon to appear and then tap the emoji you want to use. To delete it, tap the back-arrow key at the bottom of the keyboard.

To hide the emoji keyboard and return to the normal keyboard layout, simply tap the globe key again.  

Accessing the New, Multicultural Emoji in iOS 8.3 and Up

For years, the standard set of emoji available on the iPhone (and on virtually all other phones) featured only white faces for the emojis of people. Apple worked with the Unicode Consortium, the group that controls emojis (among other international communication standards), to recently change the emoji set to reflect the kinds of faces seen the world over.

In iOS 8.3, Apple updated the iPhone's emojis to include these new faces.

If you just look at the standard emoji keyboard, though, you won't see these multicultural options (you will see some of the totally new emojis, but not these new variations). To access them:

  1. Go to the emoji keyboard in an app that supports it
  2. Find an emoji that's a single human face (the multicultural variations don't exist for animals, vehicles, food, etc.)
  3. Tap and hold on the emoji that you want to see variations for
  4. A menu will pop up showing all the multicultural options. You can take your finger off the screen now and the menu will remain
  1. Tap the variation you want to add it to your message.

Removing the Emoji Keyboard

If you decide you don't want to use emoji at all anymore and want to hide the keyboard:

  1. Go to the Settings app
  2. Tap General
  3. Tap Keyboard
  4. Tap Keyboards
  5. Tap Edit
  6. Tap the red icon next to Emoji
  7. Tap Delete.

This just hides the special keyboard—it doesn't delete it—so you can always enable it again later.