How to access the Emoji picker when using your iPad with a physical keyboard

Emoji picker iPad external keyboard

Apple’s Smart Keyboard cover and Smart Keyboard Folio rock a Globe key for quickly accessing the Emoji picker, but good luck finding it on hardware keyboards made by other manufacturers. Heck, even Apple’s latest Magic Keyboard for the new iPad Pro lacks a dedicated Globe key. So, how do you access the Emoji picker while using a hardware keyboard with your iPad?

Where did the Globe key go?

I’m a heavy iPad user and my setup includes the previous-generation iPad Pro (the 2018 model) and Apple’s Smart Keyboard Folio. So far, it’s been great and my only complaint deals with lack of backlight, which renders the pricey keyboard attachment useless in the dark.

Emoji picker iPad external keyboard
Apple’s own Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro lacks a Globe key

Although the Smart Keyboard Folio from Apple already features a dedicated Emoji key which you can press to get to the Emoji picker quickly, the company’s Magic Keyboard and most other external iPad keyboards from other manufacturers aren’t nearly as emojified.

TUTORIAL: How to mark Emojis as favorites on your Mac

Follow along with our step-by-step tutorial to learn how to bring up the Emoji picker from anywhere where emojis are supported while using a physical keyboard with your iPad.

How to access the Emoji picker on external iPad keyboards

This is going to be the shortest tutorial ever.

To type emoji on an external iPad keyboard, be sure the cursor is in a text field and press the following combination on keys on the keyboard to bring up an onscreen keyboard switcher:

Control (⌃) + Space

Now you can use the Up and Down arrows on the keyboard to select the Emoji keyboard from the list or press the Space bar to cycle through the languages.

Emoji picker iPad external keyboard
Unlike macOS, iOS lacks Emoji search and favorites

Thanks to proper mouse, trackpad and pointer support in the iPadOS 13.4 software, you can navigate the emoji picker and select the emoticon you want without having to use the touchscreen at all. And with Full Keyboard Access, you can even take advantage of your external keyboard to control your iPad and navigate the entirety of the iPad user interface.

TROUBLESHOOTER: How to fix predictive iOS emoji keyboard not working

I learned about this super-handy tip from Dan Moren of Six Colors, who shared it four years ago in his 2016 post, via Daring Fireball’s John Gruber.

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Oh, almost forgot… If you’re not on team Emoji and don’t type Emoji characters often, you probably don’t need a dedicated Globe key at all. But if your keyboard has one, how about remapping it to, say, the Escape key function? While we’re at it, you can also rebind other hardware modifier keys in iPadOS 13.4, including the Command, Option and Caps Lock keys.

Accessing the emoji picker in macOS

On your Mac, you get a dedicated keyboard shortcut that you can hit anytime you want to access up the Emoji picker from almost anywhere a text field could be accessed in macOS.

The following macOS keyboard shortcut brings up the Emoji & Symbol picker:

Control (⌃) + Command (⌘) + Space

Pressing this keyboard combination brings up the Emoji picker.

Emojis window on Mac
macOS Emoji picker includes handy search

The Emoji picker makes it easy to browse through the available Emoji categories, see your recently-used Emojis, as well as favorite and search for Emojis using a dedicated search bar.

TIP: Quickly insert Emojis anywhere with this Mac keyboard shortcut

It would be nice to see Emoji search functionality added to iOS, no?

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