Use Emoji On Your Mac [OS X Tips]



The world of iOS was set alight when it was realized anybody can utilize Emoji–full colour emoticons, popular mostly in Japan. Suddenly SMS got a lot more interesting! However, with OS X Lion you can also utilize them on your Mac, making for everything from better emails to more colorful documents.

This tip is extracted from Mac Kung Fu, a new book containing over 300 tips, tricks, hints and hacks for Mac OS X Lion. 

Emoji are similar to emoticons you might already use: things like :-) for a smiley face, for example. The difference is that they’re full-color high-quality images, and they’re usually distributed as a special font. They’re popular in Japan and are rapidly spreading to the West.

OS X Lion includes default support for Emoji, as do versions 4 and above of iOS, the operating system that runs the iPad and iPhone. Therefore you can add them to email messages, for example, and text documents created with apps like TextEdit, although apps like Microsoft Word don’t currently support Emoji.

To insert an Emoji, you’ll need to use the hidden Characters tool, so some setup is necessary. Open a Finder window and hit Shift+Command+G . In the dialog box that appears, type /System/Library/Input Methods. Then look for the file called CharacterPalette. This is the tool we’ll regularly use to insert Emoji, so click and drag it to the Dock to create a shortcut for future use. Alternatively you can drag it to the desktop, but before releasing the mouse button, hold Option+Command to create an alias.

Start the CharacterPalette app and, in the left of the program window, select Emoji. Then select a category of Emoji icon from the column next to this—People, Nature, Objects, Places, or Symbols. Finally, select the icon you want from the list of icons and then click and drag it to where you want to insert it into your email, document, and so forth.

Click the dropdown list at the top left of the CharacterPalette window to alter the size of the icon display—selecting Large will show more detail, although this won’t affect the icons’ size when inserted into documents. To alter the size of an Emoji once it’s been inserted into a document, select it and use the standard font point size adjustment tool, usually available on the formatting toolbar.

Remember that any Emoji you insert into emails and documents will appear when opened by other OS X Lion computers and on iPads and iPhones, but they won’t appear on Windows or Linux systems or on Macs running pre-Lion releases of OS X. Instead, users will see a missing character symbol instead (usually a question mark symbol within a box).

Emoji can also be used in file and folder names. The best technique for inserting them is to open a TextEdit document, insert the Emoji you’d like to use (as described previously), and then copy and paste this when you come to save a file or if you rename a file.