Windows 10 Quick Tips – Emoji Picker

be-coolEmoji, Emoticons, Smileys…

Smileys have been around for as long as people have been sending messages to each other using computers. So much can be lost or misunderstood when using text alone. A little smiley can go a long way towards turning what may have sounded like a snarky remark into one that is understood as it was originally intended.

(That happened to me at work a few years ago and boy, did I get a drumming down. I had to put on my best, real-life smiley face 😁 to get out of that one. Whew!)

As with all things in the computer world,  even these helpful little icons have gotten more sophisticated. You can probably find Emoji on nearly any electronic device you own, but your Desktop computer may be a different story. You’ll be pleased to know that since the days of Windows 8, you can easily place one of these cute little guys into anything that understands Unicode fonts. They are not enabled by default, but in this week’s Quick Tips article, we’re going to show you how to change that.

Registry Tweak

Standard Registry Editing Warning:

The following instructions will ask you to edit your Windows Registry. Be sure to make a backup of your Registry before you make any changes. Making mistakes in the Registry can cause hard-to-diagnose problems, or even keep Windows from functioning properly. If you don’t know how to back up your Registry, please read Windows Quick Tips – Backup/Restore Registry.

Run the Registry Editor

  1. Open a Run Box using the Windows Key + R
  2. Type regedit and hit <ENTER>

Add New Value Name and Value

  1. Drill down to this key: Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Input\Settings (or, in Windows 10,  you can copy and paste it into the address bar in the editor)
  2. Right-click an empty space in the right panel and choose New–>DWORD (32-bit) Value (even if you are running a 64-bit system)
  3. Enter this new Value Name: EnableExpressiveInputShellHotkey (to avoid errors, copy and paste this if you like), and hit <ENTER>
  4. Right-click this new entry and choose Modify
  5. Change the Value Data to 1 (one) and click OK


When you are finished, it should look something like this (click to enlarge the image if needed):


Emoji Picker in Action

Thankfully, there is no need to reboot your computer for this to take effect. You can access the Emoji Picker in either of these ways:

  • Windows Key + . (period)
  • Windows Key + ; (semicolon)

Try it and you should see this:


There are eight categories along the bottom from which to choose. That oughtta keep you busy for a while 😊

Note: This may not work correctly when using non-US Windows versions. If you would like to read about a different way to approach this, please read How To – Emoji In Your Inbox published by Terry Hollett a little while back.

As always, if you have any helpful suggestions, comments or questions, please share them with us,


Note: Going forward, I will also be accepting off-topic questions within these Quick Tips articles. I hope to keep a record of them to learn what most interests our readers and to be able to create requested articles based on that response. Don’t be shy.

About the Author

Richard Pedersen

Richard received his first computer, a C-64, in 1982 as a gift and began dabbling in BASIC. He was hooked! His love for computing has led him from the old “XT” boxes to the more modern fare and from clunky 10MB hard drives to smooth and fast modern day SSD drives. He has run BBS services, Fido mail, and even operated his own computer repair business.

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