Emoji key

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An Emoji key opens a menu for picking Emoji characters for inserting into text.

They are most common on touch-screen keyboards for changing into an emoji layer, but are also available on some physical keyboards where they launch a separate picker on the screen.

Microsoft Windows

Microsoft introduced a physical Emoji key on the Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard and Microsoft Bluetooth Keyboard in 2019, together with their proprietary Office key. It does officially require Microsoft Windows 10, version 1903 (May 2019 Update) or later. The dedicated key sends the USB usage codes for Ctrl, Shift, Alt, Control and Space all at once (in effect the Office key+Space).

The Emoji Picker can also be launched with Windows+. (period) or Windows+; (semicolon).

Apple iPad

On Apple iPad tablet computers, users can cycle between installed keyboard layouts by pressing the Globe key. While it could be used to switch between e.g. Spanish and English layouts, by default the secondary layout is the Emoji keyboard — thus making the key into an Emoji key in practice.

The key originated on the touch-screen keyboard where it will not appear if only one keyboard layout is enabled. It got realised as a physical key on the Apple Smart Keyboard and the Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro, but the Emoji keyboard can still only be used on the touch-screen. The physical key can however be disabled or remapped to other functions.

On keyboards that don't have a Globe key:

  • Pressing Ctrl+Space Bar reveals an on-screen keyboard switcher
  • The Eject key (if present) enables the on-screen keyboard.

Apple Macintosh

An emoji picker is sometimes visible in the touch bar on some keyboards.

On macOS 10.9 and later, an emoji picker is launched on screen with Control ^+Command ⌘+Space. That shortcut could however also be mapped by an application program to do something else.

On laptops from November 2020 onwards and on the 2021 Magic Keyboard the Fn key is a Globe key when tapped. It cycles between keyboard layouts, with the on-screen "Emoji keyboard" being the next default.


Compose key

Some sequences with the Compose key produce a symbol: for instance Compose:) and Compose<3).


The GTK+ toolkit is the base for several desktop environments such as Mate, Cinnamon and Gnome.

There is an emoji selector built-into the text fields. It is enabled with Control+.. It is not available in a terminal.

Control+ Shift+u produces a unicode prompt. It works also in the terminal.

Control+ Shift+e produces an emoji prompt, but it has been deprecated and will be removed in a future version.

External links