Use Full-Color Emoticons – Mac Kung Fu, 2nd Edition

Tip 382Use Full-Color Emoticons

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 includes default support for Emoji, as does iOS, the operating system that runs the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Therefore, you can add them to email messages, for example, and text documents created with apps like TextEdit, although apps such as Microsoft Word don’t currently support Emoji.

Setting Up Emoji Access

Emoji can be inserted using the Special Characters palette, which you can activate in most apps by clicking EditSpecial Characters (or by hitting Option+Command+T).

If that option isn’t visible, you can add the Special Characters app to the Dock, where you can click to activate it in all apps. To do so, 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. 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.

Inserting Emoji

Start the Special Characters app in either way described earlier, 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. See Figure 56, Accessing Emoji characters. Alternatively, if you activated the Special Characters palette via the Edit menu or keyboard shortcut, you can position the text cursor where you want the Emoji to appear and then double-click the Emoji in the Special Characters window.

Figure 56. Accessing Emoji characters

Click the cog icon at the top left of the Special Characters window to alter the size of the icon display—selecting Large will show more detail, but be aware this will also affect an icon’s 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 computers (running Lion or Mountain Lion) 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).

Using Emoji for File and Folder Names

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 when you rename a file.

However, although OS X seems happy to allow Emoji to be used in file and folder names, I suspect this might cause future problems. Should you share a file with a Windows or Linux computer, for example, the filename will appear to be corrupted, although in my brief testing the files still seemed to open correctly.