How to Add Emoji to Your iPhone Keyboard

It's easy to get emoji on your iPhone

Multicultural emoji for iOS

Getting emoji on your iPhone lets you send the iconic cute and helpful faces, icons, and other symbols. When you just can't express something over text, an emoji keyboard can be used right there on your phone to get the point across.

There are dozens of apps that can add emoji to your iPhone, but you don't actually need them. Your phone includes hundreds of emoji, all accessible and completely free if you enable the built-in emoji keyboard.

These directions work for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad devices running iOS 7 or newer. The screenshots are from an iPhone using iOS 12.

How to Enable Emoji on iPhone

To add emoji to your iPhone, you just need to install a new keyboard, which is as easy as selecting the emoji keyboard from your phone's settings.

  1. Open the Settings app.

  2. Go to General > Keyboard.

    Three iOS screens showing Settings icon, General button, and Keyboard button
  3. Select Keyboards > Add New Keyboard.

  4. Swipe through the list until you find Emoji, and then tap it to enable it.

    Three iOS screens showing Keyboards, Add New Keyboard, and Emoji buttons

On the Keyboards screen, you'll now see the language keyboard you chose at the initial setup of your iPhone, as well as the emoji keyboard. This means you've enabled emoji and are ready to use them.

Using Emoji on iPhone

With emoji added to your iPhone, you can now type them in practically any app. It won't work in all apps because some use their own custom keyboards, but others like Messages, Notes, and Mail will work.

When you have the keyboard open, select the face or globe icon beneath the keyboard (on iPhone X) or to the left of the spacebar to access the emoji menu.

To view all the emoji, scroll to the right or select an icon at the bottom to jump to that category of emoji (categories were introduced in iOS 8.3). Inserting an emoji in a message is as simple as selecting where you want it to go and then tapping the emoji from the tray.

iPhone emoji keyboard in Mail and Reminders

To hide the emoji keyboard and return to the normal layout, tap the globe or alphabet key.

Using Multicultural Emoji

For years, the standard set of emoji available on the iPhone featured only white traits, like white faces and white hands. Apple worked with the Unicode Consortium, the group that controls emoji, to change the standard set to reflect a more diverse selection.

However, you have to perform a keyboard trick to see the multicultural options. Here's how:

These steps are relevant for devices running iOS 8.3 and newer.

  1. Open the emoji keyboard from an app that supports it.

  2. Find an emoji that's a single human face or hand, and tap and hold it.

  3. With the new menu now visible, slide your finger up into the panel to land on the emoji you want to use, and then lift your finger to insert the hidden emoji.

    Two iOS screens showing multicultural emoji options

How to Remove the Emoji Keyboard

If you decide you don't want to use emoji anymore and want to hide the keyboard, return to the keyboard settings to make the change.

This will hide the emoji keyboard, not delete it, so you can always enable it again later.

  1. To recap, open the Settings app and go to General > Keyboard > Keyboards.

  2. Tap Edit at the top and then select the red minus button next to Emoji.

  3. Select Delete.

    Three iOS screenshots showing Emoji button, red delete circle and red Delete button in Keyboard settings