Having trouble figuring out how to use emoji on your Mac? Access the built-in emoji keyboard instantly with this tip!

Using emoticons (or emoji) to express emotions, ideas and thoughts is very popular on the iPhone and other mobile devices. A couple of quick taps on the keyboard button and you've got them ready. How do you do that on the Mac? Read on to find out.

Originally popularized by texting phone users in Japan, emoji are representations of facial expressions, objects and other ideas that use a combination of keyboard characters. For a while, actual emoji images have been built into the iOS and the Mac to make using them more expressive, fun and interesting.

It isn't immediately obvious how to access them on the Mac, though, so I'm offering this quick tip to help you get there faster. This tip should work with either OS X 10.9 Mavericks or OS X 10.10 Yosemite.

To use emoji on the Mac

  1. Position the cursor in any text field you'd like to insert an emoji, like posting a tweet for example.
  2. Press the command and control keys on your keyboard. Then press the space bar.
  3. That will launch the Characters palette.
  4. Click on the Emoji icon in the sidebar.
  5. Emoji are divided into several categories: People, Nature, Food & Drink, Celebration, Activity, Travel & Places, and Objects & Symbols.
  6. Click on whichever emoji you'd like to use and they'll be inserted where you left your cursor.
  7. When you're done, click on the red circle in the upper left hand corner of the Characters palette to make it disappear.

If you're having trouble seeing the emoji, click the popup menu with the gear inside of it and select Bonus tip: Use the search field to find emoji you'd like to use. Type in the first few letters of the face, object or action you'd like to use.

Extra bonus tip: You can also add the Characters palette to your menu bar for quick visual access. To do so, open up the Keyboard system preference and check the box marked "Show Keyboard & Characters Viewer in menu bar."

Emoji palette

Do you like to use emoji? Have you found an easier way to use them on your Mac? Sound off in the comments!