How to Open the Emoji Keyboard on a Mac

Command + Control + Space is your key to emoji

What to Know

  • Method 1: Select Edit > Emoji & Symbols from the menu bar.
  • Method 2: Use the keyboard shortcut Command + Control + Space.
  • Method 3: Press the Fn/globe key on your Mac keyboard.

This article explains the three different ways to open the emoji keyboard and switch to the Character Viewer for additional symbols.

Use the Menu Bar

As a Mac user, you know that the Mac menu bar holds actions for Finder along with the app you’re currently using. This makes the menu bar the easiest way to remember how to access the emoji keyboard.

Select Edit and choose Emoji & Symbols.

Emoji & Symbols in the Edit menu on Mac

You’ll then see those happy smileys, people, and animals open in a small window.

Emoji Keyboard on Mac

Use a Keyboard Shortcut

If you’re a fan of Mac keyboard shortcuts and find it easy to remember those you need, then here's a new one for you: Command + Control + Space

Mac keyboard

The emoji window pops right up for you to make a selection.

Use the Globe Key

Newer Macs come with a key in the lower left corner labeled with a globe or an FN. Press the FN key and the emoji keyboard pops right up.

Mac keyboard

Adjust the Keyboard Settings to Make Sure the Emoji Keyboard Shows up

If you don’t see the emoji keyboard open, you can make a simple adjustment to your settings. 

  1. Open System Preferences with the icon in your Dock or use the Apple icon in the menu bar and select Keyboard.

    Keyboard in the macOS System Preferences
  2. Then go to the Keyboard tab.

  3. In the drop-down menu next to Press (globe key) to, pick Show Emoji & Symbols.

    Actions for the globe key in the Mac Keyboard Preferences
  4. You can then close System Preferences and give your globe key another press. You should see the emoji keyboard open right up.

How to Use the Emoji Keyboard

Once you have the emoji keyboard open, use the tabs at the bottom to select people, animals, food, activities, or another category. Alternatively, you can enter a keyword into the Search box.

Emoji keyboard on Mac

Select the emoji you want to use and then double-click to insert it into your document, note, or email where your cursor sits.

If you prefer, you can also drag the emoji from the window to your document where you want it.

Dragging an emoji from the keyboard to a note on Mac

To see additional symbols, click the Character Viewer button on the top right corner of the emoji window. This displays the Character Viewer with categories along the left side.

You can insert an emoji or symbol into a document or other spot the same way. Either double-click or drag the character where you want it.

Character Viewer on Mac
  • How do I update the emoji keyboard on my Mac?

    You can't update the emoji keyboard like you would a standalone application, but any available updates will be downloaded and installed when you update macOS on your computer.

  • How do I change emoji colors on my Mac?

    With the emoji keyboard open, select and hold down on the emoji you want to change. If color options are available you'll see a pop-up menu with with those variations. Select the variation you want to use and it will be set as your new default for that emoji.

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