How to use iPhone emoji search to find the right emoji quickly

iPhone emoji search - hero image

iOS 14 provides a handy search field above the emoji keyboard on your iPhone and iPod touch. With it, you can find and filter appropriate emoji by entering descriptions. Follow along with us as we show you how to take advantage of the new iPhone emoji search option in iOS 14.

iOS 14 brings a new search option for emoji to the iPhone and iPod touch. You can search for the appropriate emoji character by typing its description, like “heart” or “happy” or “smiley face”.

TUTORIAL: Tips for using emoji in iOS Search

Want to find the perfect emoji for the moment? Follow along with our step-by-step tutorial as we walk you through using the new iPhone emoji search option in iOS 14.

How to use iPhone emoji search

Follow these steps to learn how to use the iPhone emoji search feature:

  1. Enable the Emoji keyboard by venturing into Settings → General → Keyboard → Keyboards → Add New Keyboard, then select Emoji from the list.
  2. Now open an app that accepts text input, such as Messages or Notes.
  3. Tap the text entry field in the selected app to bring up the keyboard. Now hit that Smiley key to the left of the Space bar key in order to switch to the Emoji keyboard. Alternatively, tap and hold the Globe key and select Emoji from the list of active software keyboards.
  4. Tap the search field above the Emoji keyboard, labeled with the text “Search Emoji”.
  5. Enter a commonly used word or phrase such as “heart” or “smiley face” and you will be presented with corresponding emoji to choose from.
  6. Swipe left or right to scroll through matching emoji, then tap one to add it to your text.

As you type, you’ll be presented with a list of corresponding emoji to choose from. Emoji matches appear right where you’re used to seeing your autocorrect suggestions.

TUTORIAL: How to know what an emoji means on your Mac

Tapping a desired emoji inserts it instantly in the app you’re using. To close emoji search, tap the “x” on the rightmost side of the search field.

iPhone emoji search - example screenshot 1
Tip: Your typed emoji search phrase must be in the same language as your current keyboard

This awesome new feature lacks some options versus emoji search on the Mac, however. As an example, you cannot set a specific emoji character as your favorite.

How’s emoji search useful?

That said, now you can at least find the right emoji on an iPhone easier than before. It’s certainly more helpful than having to scroll through a seemingly endless list of emoji in iOS 13.

iPhone emoji search - example screenshot 2
Just type a common description to get emoji that fit the description

Emoji search is especially appealing to people who don’t use emoji much. I do wish, however, that emoji matches were displayed bigger for folks like yours truly who have vision problems.

And that’s how you use the iPhone emoji search feature in iOS 14.

Emoji popover on iPad

A similar emoji search option is, unfortunately, non-existent on the iPad.

iPhone emoji search - Emoji popover on iPad example screenshot 1
iPad gets emoji popover instead of emoji search with iPadOS 14

On the other hand, iPadOS 14 has an emoji popover menu. While lacking built-in emoji search feature, the popover makes it easy to enter emoji when using a hardware keyboard.

iPhone emoji search - Emoji popover on iPad example screenshot 2
Tap this smiley face icon in iPadOS 14 to enter emoji when using an external iPad keyboard

iOS 13, iPadOS 14 and macOS Big Sur also let you use emoji in more places than before. In the Messages app, you can personalize a group chat photo with an appropriate emoji.

TUTORIAL: How to know what emoji means on your Mac

In Reminders, lists can be personalized with emoji. And if you use Memoji, you’ll like that iOS 14, iPadOS 14 and macOS Big Sur allow you to put a face covering on your Memoji.

New emoji coming in 2020

After iOS 14, iPadOS 14, macOS 11 Big Sur and watchOS 7 release publicly this fall, one of the subsequent point updates will bring additional emoji. According to Apple’s preview of these new emoji, we’ll see the addition of a ninja, lungs, bubble tea, a beaver and much more.

Apple preview of the Emoji 13.0 release coming later in 2020
Later in 2020, we’ll get a bunch of new emoji along with tweaks to existing ones

These upcoming emoji additions are all part of the major Emoji 13.0 release, approved by the Unicode organization. Aside from Apple, Google, Microsoft and other major tech giants may create their own designs for the emoji approved in the latest batch release.

50 major new features in iOS 14

For a quick overview of the 50 headline new iPhone and iPod touch features introduced with iOS 14, be sure to watch our hands-on video walkthrough embedded right ahead.

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