How to Insert Emoji in macOS Mail

Spice up your emails with this easy step-by-step guide

Inserting emoji in your Apple Mail messages is easy because a full emoji menu is just a few clicks away.

Emoji include symbols to express emotions and pictographs for common concepts and objects. Using emoji, you can add character, emotion, and life to otherwise bland messages. Adding emoji to an email is easy, and you can add them not only to the body of the message but also insert to the Subject and To fields.

Instructions in this article apply to devices running macOS Catalina (10.15) through Mac OS X Lion (10.7), as indicated.

How to Add Emoji to Mail in macOS Catalina (10.15) and Mojave (10.14)

The latest versions of macOS have made it fast and easy to insert emoji. Here's how you do it.

  1. While composing an email, place the cursor where you want the emoji to go.

    Email with cursor in position for an emoji
  2. The toolbar is located in the upper right corner of the email and includes, among other things, an emoji button. If you don't see the toolbar, select Show Toolbar under the View menu.

    Mail View menu showing Show Toolbar

    You can also press Option+Command+T on your keyboard to toggle the toolbar on and off.

  3. Click the emoji button in the upper-right corner of the toolbar to open the Emoji character menu.

    Emoji button in Mail toolbar
  4. Double-click an emoji to add it to your message at the location of your cursor or click an emoji and drag it anywhere in the message body.

    Emoji in the Mail character window

How to Add Emoji to Mail Using the Touch Bar

If you have a MacBook Pro with a Touch Bar, you have access to an even faster way to add emoji to email and other messages. Apple's touch-sensitive contextual menu performs a variety of functions, including serving as an emoji keyboard.

  1. While composing a message in Mail, place the cursor where you want to insert the emoji.

  2. Tap the Emoji button on the Touch Bar.

  3. Drag the bar to find the emoji you want to use.

    Emojis on a MacBook's Touch Bar


    Stephen Lam/Stringer / Getty Images 
  4. Tap the desired emoji to add it after the cursor in the email.

  5. Repeat with any other emoji you want to add to your message.

How to Add Emoji to Mail in macOS High Sierra (10.13) through OS X Mavericks (10.9)

In macOS High Sierra through OS X Mavericks, you can access the emoji keyboard via Mail's Edit menu. Here's what to do.

  1. While composing an email message, position the cursor where you want the emoji to go.

  2. Press Control+Command+Space on your keyboard or go to Edit > Emoji & Symbols to open the built-in emoji keyboard.

  3. Search for or browse through the pop-up menu to find the emoji you want to insert into the email.

  4. Select one or more emoji to insert it into the email instantly. If the pop-up box doesn't close when you insert the emoji, use the exit button to close out of that menu and return to your email.

Emoji characters don't always look the same in every operating system, so the emoji you send in an email from your Mac might not appear the same to a Windows user or someone on an Android tablet.

If you find the emoji menu too small, expand it to open the full Character Viewer menu using the small button at the top right corner of the emoji menu. Use the Emoji option on the left to find only emoji or select any of the other menus for arrows, stars, currency symbols, math symbols, punctuation, music symbols, Latin, and other symbols and characters to insert into the email. If you go this route, you have to double-click the emoji to add it to the email.

How to Add Emoji to Mail in Mac OS X Mountain Lion (10.8) and Lion (10.7)

The early implementation of emoji in Apple Mail used a different procedure to access the characters. Follow these steps to insert them.

  1. Go to Edit > Special Characters from within Mail.

  2. Choose the Emoji section.

  3. If you don't see the Emoji section, open the settings gear icon in the Characters window toolbar and go to Customize List to make sure Emoji is selected under Symbols.