Emoji are actually a different sort of emoticon from the ones that you’ll find on this website (those are called kaomoji). Emoji are basically just small 12×12 pixel images that were invented in Japan and are built into most Japanese cell phones. The word emoji literally means “picture letter” when translated into English.
Emoji emoticons were invented by Shigetaka Kurita in either 1998 or 1999, apparently no one is sure of the exact date. Emoji are standardized across all devices and some have been converted into Unicode and can be used in places and on devices that don’t normally support emoji.
Emoji emoticons are very Japanese and many of them are representations of things only really found in Japanese culture. Emoji are divided into five categories: people, nature, objects, places and symbols.
Below is an image showing every single emoji emoticon (except the symbols because those are kind of boring, and I forgot to include them when making this image…)
How to Unlock Emoji Emoticons on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch in iOS7 or iOS8
You can unlock a keyboard of emoji emoticons on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. In iOS7 simply go to settings, then tap “General”, then swipe down until you see “Keyboard” and tap that, tap “Keyboards” and then tap “Add New Keyboard”. You will see a list of available keyboards. The list is arranged alphabetically so just scroll down until you see “Emoji”, tap that and the emoji keyboard will be added to your default keyboard.
When using the keyboard on your device you’ll see sort of a globe icon at the bottom. Tap that to access the emoji keyboard.
How to Access Emoji on an Android Device
It is possible to use emoji emoticons on your Android device however it’s a lot more complicated than iOS7. There are two sort of ways to use them. One involves activating an emoji dictionary and then you can type words that get converted into emoji. With this option you have to actually type the correct word for the emoticon and the word gets converted into the emoji. The other method involves using the iWnn IME keyboard but this isn’t available on every Android device for some reason.
If you really want to use emoji on your Android device the best way is probably just to download an app for it. If you just search for Emoji on Google Play you’ll find all kinds of apps to try and many of them are free.
How to Access Emoji on Your Mac in OSX
Emoji emoticons are actually built into the Mac operating system.
In OSX Mavericks all you need to do is open any application that uses text and then simply go to the Edit menu at the top and click on “Special Characters”. A small bubble will pop-up with all the emoji emoticons and some other various symbols.
The keyboard shortcut to bring up the special characters is Control + Command + Space
How to Use Emoji in Other Programs
A lot of other programs will let you use emoji as well. To use them you simply type the name of the emoji with colons on each side. For example :smile: and the program will convert that to the emoji.
To see the codes for each emoji check out our Master Emoji List.