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How to Get Emojis on Windows: A Complete Guide

Emojis have become an essential element of digital communication. The colorful and fun icons help add tone, emotion, and visual flair to otherwise plain text messages. But did you know that you can access and use emojis right on your Windows desktop or laptop?

In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll walk you through everything you need to know to unlock the emoji keyboard on Windows and start sprinkling these icons into your documents and messages.

A Brief History of Emojis

Before jumping into using emojis on Windows, let‘s do a quick overview of what exactly emojis are and where they came from.

Emojis originated in 1999 from Japanese mobile carrier NTT DOCOMO. An employee named Shigetaka Kurita was tasked with creating simple pictographs to convey information visually on the small screens of early mobile phones. These early emojis were just 12×12 pixels and displayed in black and white.

The name emoji comes from the Japanese words “e” (picture) and “moji” (character). And Kurita‘s original 176 emojis are now immortalized in the Museum of Modern Art in New York!

Emojis slowly gained popularity in Japan throughout the early 2000s. In 2007, Google led a consortium of software companies to submit emojis to the Unicode Consortium, which maintains text standards across platforms. This led to the Unicode block for emojis being added in 2010.

When Apple added an emoji keyboard to iOS in 2011, emojis started to gain worldwide popularity. And Android followed with native emoji support in 2013.

There are now over 3,000 emojis in the Unicode standard, with new ones added each year. The Unicode Consortium and major tech companies aim make emojis more inclusive with greater representation across skin tones, cultures, disabilities, occupations, and lifestyles each year.

Emoji Support in Windows

Windows has supported emojis since 2012 when Windows 8 launched. Users of Windows 8 and later versions can access emojis through the following methods:

Windows 8 – Added color emoji fonts and basic emoji keyboard
Windows 8.1 – Improved color support for emojis
Windows 10 – Expanded emoji sets and compatibility

So you‘re in luck! As long as you‘re running Windows 8 or higher, you have native access to an emoji keyboard right on your computer.

In the next sections, I‘ll cover multiple ways to access and use emojis on Windows, including:

  • Emoji keyboard shortcuts
  • The touch keyboard
  • Typing emoticon shortcuts
  • Browser extensions
  • Emoji websites

Let‘s get to it!

Method 1: Emoji Keyboard Shortcuts

The fastest way to access emojis is by using a keyboard shortcut to bring up the Windows emoji keyboard.

Here‘s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Open any application where you want to insert an emoji (email, Word doc, Skype chat etc.).

  2. Press the Windows key + . (period) or Windows key + ; (semicolon). This will instantly open the emoji keyboard overlay.

  3. Search for an emoji by keyword, or scroll through categories like Smileys & People, Animals & Nature, Food & Drink and more.

  4. Click or tap an emoji to insert it.

  5. To change skin tones of people emojis, click the desired color at the top of the keyboard.

And that‘s it! The emoji keyboard stays open so you can easily insert multiple emojis. When finished, press the Esc key to close the keyboard and get back to regular typing.

Emoji keyboard shortcuts

These Windows key combos for launching the emoji picker make inserting emojis super fast and easy anywhere you can type text on Windows.

Method 2: Touch Keyboard

If you‘re using Windows 10 on a touchscreen device, the touch keyboard offers quick mobile-style access to the emoji keyboard.

Follow these steps:

  1. Open the touch keyboard by clicking the keyboard icon in the system tray.

  2. Select the emoji button on the touch keyboard toolbar. This opens the full emoji picker view.

  3. Browse emoji categories or search for keywords. Tap an emoji to insert it.

  4. Close the touch keyboard when finished (the emoji picker also closes automatically).

The great thing about the touch keyboard method is you get a much larger emoji interface right on your screen. This makes tapping the perfect emoji way easier, especially for touchscreen devices.

Method 3: Type Emoticon Shortcuts

Did you know that typing some text emoticons will automatically convert them into emojis? It‘s true!

Emoticons are combinations of standard keyboard characters like 🙂 🙁 😀 XD etc. that represent facial expressions and emotions. Because emojis build upon the emoticon concept, Windows automatically converts many emoticon shortcuts into their emoji equivalents.

For example, try typing 🙂 in any message or text field, and it will change to 🙂.

Here are some common emoticon shortcuts that turn into emojis:

Emoticon Emoji
🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
🙁 🙁 ☹️
😀 😀 😀
😉 😉 😉
:O 😮 😮
:‘( 😢 😢
😛 :p 😛 😛

So if you memorize some of those key emoticons, you can type emojis faster without even needing to access the emoji keyboard!

Method 4: Chrome Extensions

If you do most of your typing in the Chrome browser, installing emoji-related Chrome extensions can make accessing emojis even more convenient.

Here are two great (and free) extensions to check out:

Emoji Keyboard – Brings up an emoji search/picker in Chrome
Emoji One for Chrome – Advanced extension with thousands of emojis

To install these:

  1. In Chrome, go to Menu > More Tools > Extensions
  2. Click "Open Chrome Web Store"
  3. Search for the extension and click "Add to Chrome"
  4. Pin the added extension icon to your toolbar for easy access

Now when you‘re typing in Chrome, simply click the new extension icon to open up the emoji interface and insert icons into any web field or application. Super handy!

Method 5: Emoji Websites

Another option is to open one of the many emoji websites available, browse for icons, and copy/paste individual emojis wherever you want. Two excellent emoji sites to use are:

GetEmoji – Simple picker site to easily search and copy emojis
iEmoji – Advanced site with huge emoji collection and memorable URLs

To use these sites:

  1. Open or in your browser
  2. Browse or search for your desired emoji
  3. Click the emoji to automatically copy it
  4. Switch over and paste the emoji into your document

The website approach gives you the most flexibility in terms of the variety and size of emojis available to insert. However, it does require some manual copying and pasting each time.

Wrap Up

I hope this guide was helpful in showing you all the different methods for accessing and inserting emojis on Windows devices. With keyboard shortcuts, emoticons, the touch interface, extensions and websites, you have tons of options!

Let me know if you have any other questions down in the comments!

Happy emoji