macOS’s emoji interface is somewhat clunky: you have to press Control (⌃)-Command (⌘)-Space to bring up the persistent emoji overlay, then search for the right emoji character.

You can also add emojis to your favorite list to make them easier to find, but that doesn’t change the fact that the interface for finding and entering emoji leaves a lot to be desired.

To overcome this obvious user experience oversight, one can easily take advantage of macOS’s Text Replacement feature to create a set of substitutions that make it easier to place emoji anywhere you need them. For instance, you could define that every typed occurrence of “alien” or “alien” should automatically insert an alien emoji.

But rather than create a massive substitution list, download and use the native app Rocket from developer Matthew Palmer that not only works just like the emoji finder in Slack, but also lets you create fancy lists that use emoji for bullet points and more.

Before you can use Rocket, you must give the app accessibility permissions in System Preferences → Security & Privacy → Privacy → Accessibility. Now whenever you’d like to insert a specific emoji into your text, just type its name preceded by a colon, then hit Enter and Rocket will automatically substitute your emoji in.

The short animation from The Verge shows it in action.

As an example, typing something like “:burrito” automatically puts in the burrito emoji, which is a lot easier than having to fumble with macOS’s convoluted emoji finder. Also, Rocket’s search works much better. The app allows you to customize the default colon key with something else and its functionality can be enabled for specific apps only.

Upgrading to a Pro version lets you use Rocket to send and store gifs, images and memes.

If you’re really old school, you can access any emoji through Rocket’s built-in shortcut window. The software supports standard emoji features, such as light and dark themes, the ability to picky skins tone and more. It’s a simple and effective app that gets the job done.

Rocket is available free of charge, but you’ll get additional features if you optionally upgrade to a Pro edition for $5 (click the Rocket icon in the menu bar, then choose Browse & Search).

Upgrading to the Pro edition allows you to add your own custom emoji phrases, set custom emoji shortcuts, use the app to send viral content like animated GIFs, images and memes that can be added to its autocomplete list, and more.

If you use emojis frequently, you’re wholeheartedly recommended to grab Rocket for free to get a feel for how it works. Then, if you’re satisfied with the app and would like to unlock its full potential, you can upgrade to a Pro edition for $5 at any time.

Animation top of post via LifeHacker