Emoji has become such a vital part of our communications. The ability to send small images that help convey our emotions is an extremely powerful feature. Since 2011, Apple’s iOS devices have provided native support for emoji. It’s a fantastic feature, but often left unused. If you’re new to emoji or an old pro, we’ve got you covered with the latest in Master Class series. Using our table of contents, you’ll have quick access to answers to your most pressing questions. It’s time to get your thumbs up icon ready. Read on for the ultimate guide to emoji on iPhone, iPad and Mac!

Emoji Master Class

What is emoji

Emoji? You may be asking, what are emoji and why would I want them on my iPhone? To assuage your curiosity, emoji are simply small graphic images of smiley faces and other items that can spice up your text messages, email, and more. Emoji is the Japanese word for these images and they are known in other areas as emoticons or smilies. Emoji are small icons that are used to convey an idea or emotion. We think of them as those quirky icons that adds a fun quotient to our interactions.

using emoji on iPhone

Emoji etiquette

There are no hard and fast rules for when to use emoji. Here are a few tips on what seems to work best for most folks.

  • Use an emoji at the end of a sentence or text. Don’t merge it in between a short message or sentence. Think of emojis as the ultimate in punctuation. Use them as if you were having a conversation in person. What would your face or surroundings say? Substitute with an appropriate emoji and it provides more emphasis on your message.
  • Emoji can be used by themselves. With hundreds of available emoji, you can tell a story that consists entirely of emoji. If a picture is worth thousand words, how many words is a group of emoji?
  • If you are texting in a business setting, you might be better off using plain text for your messages. Even at their most serious, these are whimsical and might be looked upon as not professional.

How to enable emoji on iPhone, iPad

Recent versions of iOS have emoji as part of the operating system. It doesn’t require a third party app, but the emoji keyboard is not enabled by default. You simply have to activate it as a keyboard and here’s how:

1. Navigate to the Settings app. If it’s not visible on your home screen, swipe down and start typing ‘settings ‘ into search. This will bring up the ‘Settings’ app. Tap on on it to open.

2. Now you’ll want to select General > Keyboard > Keyboards

Add emoji keyboard

3. Tap on Add New Keyboard.

4. Scroll down and tap on Emoji.

Adding keyboard

That’s it. This effectively adds a new secondary keyboard. Press the Home button to quickly exit. Now let’s try out your new found smileys. Within any app where the keyboard is used, tap on the smile icon to the left of the dictation icon. Tap on any of the emoji to insert them in text message, emails or notes. You should know that only other iPhone or iPad users will be able to partake in the fun. At any point during the composition of your message, simply tap on the globe icon to return to your default keyboard.

How to use emoji

The Emoji keyboard is broken out across a few tabs at the bottom. The clock icon will automatically collect your most recent and frequently used icons. Each subsequent tab attempts to categorize your emoji for easy access, something which isn’t an easy task. There are five tabs in all. Within each category, you’ll notice a series of dots at the top. If you swipe from right to left, you’ll access an entirely new subset of icons. Each panel offers you 24 emoji.

Here is the current set of emoji available in the smile tab. Here you’ll find the most popular smiley format icons. There are also people emoji featuring different genders and occupations. Cat lovers, our feline friends are also represented. There are also a host of common hand gestures. As you make your way through, you’ll find clothes, shoes, handbags and other accessories. The final tab is for those who are madly in love and can never have enough heart emojis to send to that special someone.

Emojis smileys

Here is the current set of emoji available in the flower tab. This is the nature emoji. It starts with a set of animal themed icons. As you swipe through, you’ll a number designed based on flowers , trees and plants. It wraps up with mother-nature. Stars, moon and earth flank weather specific designs.

flower tab

Here is the current set of emoji available in the alarm tab. This starts with mostly event or calendar related icons. When Halloween rolls around, you’ll be equipped with appropriate scary ghosts and halloween pumpkins. There are assorted objects and household fixtures, for those dying to share a toilet bowl icon. Electronics are also here, with the iPhone making an appearance on the second pane of this set. There’s a fair representation of books, musical instruments, food and drink. I’ll take a burger and fries!

Emoji alarm

Here is the current set of emoji available in the car tab. This is mostly location and travel based. You’ll find an assortment of buildings, postcard-like images, modes of transportation like planes and trains. There are country flags, but it’s oddly limited to 10 flags. Canada, our neighbors to the north, are not represented.

Car and travel emoji

Here is the current set of emoji available in the punctuation tab. Earning its position at the end, this one features those incredibly exciting punctuation emoji. It’s flanked by various signage, clocks and symbols.

Best Third Party Emoji Apps

If you are looking for more options, check out Emoji+ in the App Store. It has a number of great features. For one, you can setup a group of favorites, something we’d love to see Apple implement in iOS 9. They also offer the option to send huge emojis from the keyboard. As I’ve outlined, the way Apple categorizes emoji can at times be confusing. You’ll find the categories using this keyboard are much more organized. The keyboard can be configured for either dark (night mode) or light.

How to use emoji on your Mac

Just because your conversation switches from your iPhone to your Mac, it doesn’t mean you have to give up your lovable emoji. Using your Mac, press the control, command and space keys. Be sure to do so, in that order and hold all three until you see the emoji keyboard pop-up.

Mac emoji

It provides categories for each group of icons:

  • People
  • Nature
  • Celebration
  • Activity
  • Travel and Places
  • Objects and Symbols
  • Letterlike symbols
  • Pictographs

Exciting new emoji coming to iOS 8.3 and Mac OS X 10.10.3

At the time of this article, Apple is testing iOS 8.3. This is a beta release that is available to developers. It includes over 300 new emojis. Most notable, is the inclusion of racially diverse emoji. A number of emoji characters will be available in six different skin tones. Apple has been working with The Unicode Consortium on this effort. Also of note, there are 32 new country flags coming. Similar changes are also slated for the desktop. Yosemite build 10.10.3 includes similar changes like new emoji and skin tone modifiers. At times, features found in beta releases don’t make the final release. It appears to be a safe bet that these new emoji will be in the release, expected sometime in the next few months.

diverse emojis

So that’s it! You’ve got emoji on your iPhone now and you can spice up your text messages and emails to other iPhone users. What’s your favorite emoji?