How to use emoji and Tapbacks in Messages on iPhone and iPadSource: iMore

If you like sending emoji in your texts and iMessages, Apple makes doing that incredibly easy. Between Tapbacks for reacting directly to a message and using machine learning to know which emoji to recommend, Apple understands the importance of these little pictograms to modern communication.

If that doesn't sound important to you, then you haven't seen the kind of cheers emoji get on stage or the amount of interest they generate on social platforms. They're a big, smiley, thumbs-up kind of deal!

If you're looking to spice up your messages to your friends and family, you can litter them with emoji all you want! Here's how you do it!

How do you get emoji recommendations in Messages?

Apple's predictive QuickType keyboard can suggest emoji as well as, you know, regular words. The predictive keyboard has to be turned on in Settings, and can't be hidden.

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  1. Start typing in the Messages text field.
  2. Tap any emoji predictions that show up in the prediction bar. If multiple predictions show up, tap the one you prefer.
  3. Tap the Send button. (Looks like an upward arrow)

    Getting emoji recommendations in Messages showing how to type in the message field, then tap a predicted emoji, then tap SendSource: iMore

Emoji predictions will show up whenever you type something that has a corresponding emoji. For example, "I'm happy" will predict "[smiley face]". "My car" will suggest the "[car]" emoji.

Pro tip: If you don't want the emoji to take the place of the word, but rather appear beside it, put a space between the word before you tap your desired emoji.

How do you emojify a message?

The "emojification" works similarly to emoji recommendations and will work in both iMessages and standard SMS texts.

  1. Type an iMessage in the text field.
  2. Tap the Emoji button on the keyboard.
  3. Tap on a word that's highlighted orange to replace it with its corresponding emoji.

    How to emojify a message, showing how to type an iMessage, tap on the emoji button on the keyboard, and tap an orange wordSource: iMore

  4. Keep tapping words highlighted until you've "emojified" everything you want.
  5. Tap the Send button (Looks like an upward arrow).

    How to emojify a message, showing how to continue tapping orange words until you've emojified everything you wanted to, then tap SendSource: iMore

With emojification, you can convert as many — or as few — words to emoji as you like.

How do you react with an emoji Tapback in an iMessage?

Emoji aren't just for replying, they're also for reacting. Apple calls them Tapbacks. They're similar to Slack or Facebook emoji reactions, and drop right onto any iMessage bubble sent your way.

  1. Touch and hold (long press) on an iMessage sent your way.
  2. Tap the Tapback you want to send: Heart, thumbs up, thumbs down, Ha ha, !!, or ?.

    How to use Tapbacks in Messages, showing how to open messages, tap and hold on a message sent to you, then tap on the Tapback you want to sendSource: iMore

There's no need to hit send, the emoji reaction goes immediately.

What do the Tapback emoji reactions mean?

Theoretically, these Tapback reactions can mean whatever you want them too. Context is king and a thumbs up Tapback to your Mom might mean something different than one to your best friend. Here's a basic guide to all the Tapback emoji that are available and what they could mean.

  • Heart: Like, love, or fav
  • Thumbs up: Happy, approve, or agree
  • Thumbs down: Sad, disapprove, or disagree
  • Ha ha: Laugh, either happily or sarcastically.
  • !!: Exclaim emphatically.
  • ?: Question.

How do you change the emoji reaction Tapback on an iMessage?

If you reply with the wrong Tapback, or you later decide you want a different Tapback, you can easily make the change.

  1. Touch and hold (long press) on an iMessage with the Tapback you want to change.
  2. Tap the Tapback you want to change to: Heart, thumbs up, thumbs down, Ha ha, !, or ?.

    How to change Tapbacks in Messages showing how to tap and hold on a message to which you've attached a Tapback, then tap the new Tapback you want to useSource: iMore

The new Tapback will take the place of the old one.

How do you delete a Tapback on an iMessage?

If you accidentally send a Tapback, or have simply reconsider sending one, you can also remove it.

  1. Tap a Tapback that you wish to remove.
  2. Tap the Tapback you want to remove (i.e. if you want to remove Heart, tap Heart.)

    Deleting Tapbacks showing how to tap on a Tapback you want to remove, then tap it again in the Tapback popup menu.Source: iMore

The Tapback will disappear.

Any Questions?

Let us know in the comments below!

Updated July 2020: Everything is up-to-date through iOS 13.6 and the iOS 14 beta.

Emoji: Everything you need to know!