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How to Use Emoji on the iPhone


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Emoji have been taking the texting world by storm for the last couple of years, but if you’re just now seeing the light, here’s how to use emoji on your iPhone to send your friends smiley faces and virtual kisses.

Enable the Emoji Keyboard

The first thing you’ll need to do before you go crazy is to enable the emoji keyboard on your iPhone, which isn’t enabled by default. So if you’re looking around your keyboard wondering where the emoji are, don’t worry–you aren’t crazy.

To enable the emoji keyboard, start by opening up the Settings app from the home screen.

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Tap on “General”.

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Scroll down and select “Keyboard”.

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Tap on “Keyboards” at the top.

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Select “Add New Keyboard…”.

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Scroll down and select the “Emoji” keyboard.

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After you select it, it will show up in your list of keyboards.

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From there, you can close out of the settings app and go back to any app that uses the keyboard. You’ll now see that an emoji button shows up on the keyboard.

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Tapping on that button will bring up all the emoji, and you can swipe to scroll through all of them to select one. To go back to the regular keyboard, just tap on “ABC” in the bottom-left corner.

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How to Access Different Skin Tones

On some of the emoji, you can pick different skin tones go from lighter shades to darker shades. To do this, all you have to do is tap and hold on an emoji and skin tone options will appear for that emoji.

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After selecting a skin tone, your iPhone will remember that choice and turn that emoji from yellow to whatever skin tone you selected. That way, you don’t have to re-select it every time.

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This only works on the hand emojis, as well as some of the people emojis. It doesn’t work on the regular smiley face emojis, and some of the people emojis are left out of this feature as well.

Easily Replace Words with Related Emoji

Another new feature in iOS 10 is the ability to type out a message and replace key words with emoji related to those words. It’s certainly not something that’s useful or productive by any means, but it’s a fun way to communicate with friends.

To do this, start by typing out a message or reply that you plan on sending to your friend.

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After you type out your message, don’t send it just yet, but rather tap on the emoji button in the bottom-left corner of the keyboard.

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When you do that, you’ll notice that some of the words in your message will become highlighted.

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Tap on these highlighted words to instantly replace them with the related emoji.

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Sometimes, a key word will relate to more than one emoji. When that happens, tapping on the word to change it to an emoji will bring up a pop-up giving you several emoji options to choose from.

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From there, select one and it will change the word to the emoji that you selected.

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Take Advantage of Stickers & Third-Party Keyboards for Even More Emoji

iOS 10 adds even more emoji-like fun to iMessage in the form of stickers, which you can get from the iMessage App Store. You can also download third-party keyboards that are filled with new emoji that don’t come stock with iOS (like Emoji+, for instance), available in the regular App Store. Your recipient doesn’t need to download the extra packs either; they’ll see whatever you send. (Sending to Android users may cause them to display a bit weirdly, however.)

We have a guide that takes you through the process of installing iMessage apps and stickers, but here’s the gist: open a new iMessage, tap on the App Store icon, select the icon that looks like four small ovals grouped together, and then tap on the plus icon, which will open up the iMessage App Store. From there, you can browse and search for sticker packs and download them to your iPhone.

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While stickers technically aren’t emoji, they can sort of act as emoji with other iMessage users, and many sticker packs resemble emoji in a way. However, one you can’t include stickers within text. So if you’re typing out a message and want to include a sticker, you can’t include the two of them in the same message. Instead, you either have to send the sticker by itself like you would with a photo, or send your text and then immediately tack the sticker onto your message.

One of my favorite sticker packs so far has been Retro Emoji, which offers a handful of old-school emoticons that use regular keyboard characters, some of which you may recognize.

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Obviously, there are a ton of sticker packs to choose from, and as time goes on, there will likely be even more sticker packs to come, especially since iOS 10 is still rather new.


You may already be an emoji master, especially if you use other third-party messaging apps, but while the iPhone has had emoji for a while now, Apple has been rather new to the party when it comes to expanding the capabilities of emoji, but they’re quickly catching up and the new features in iOS 10 are proof of that.

Craig Lloyd is TIME Magazine’s 2006 Person of the Year, as well as a mediocre gamer, aviation geek, baseball fan, motorcycle rider, and a proud introvert. He began his career as a young, naive teenager tinkering around with the family computer and has since blossomed into the beautiful geek that he is today.


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