Have Some Fun with OS X Mavericks’s New In-Line Special Characters Menu

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Emojis. You know them as the fun little emoticon-like ideograms that have become increasingly popular over the past several years. And for those who enjoy communicating certain thoughts and emotions via visual representations, you’ll want to upgrade to OS X Mavericks immediately. Apple has expanded the availability and implementation of Emojis in its latest operating system, and here’s how to use them.

As pointed out by the intrepid chat room during Mac Geek Gab Episode 472, press Control-Command-Space to bring up an Emoji-focused version of the Special Characters menu. There are hundreds of different graphics from which to choose, including traditional smiley faces, shapes, buildings, and icons. The graphics are divided into categories: people, places, objects, and so on. Simply click once on any graphic to insert it into a document or text field.

OS X Mavericks Emoji Symbol Window

In addition to fun smiley faces, this method can also be used to quickly insert common symbols such as the copyright sign, foreign currency marks, and mathematics symbols. Those looking for the traditional Special Characters menu can find them by clicking on the icon at the top right of the Emoji window (you may have to scroll up to reveal it).

OS X Mavericks Emoji Symbol WindowThis new feature works both when your cursor is positioned inside a text window (such as a document, email, or text box) as well as when nothing is selected (such as when idling at the Finder). In the first instance, the window will pop up at the cursor location, similar to the appearance of the in-line dictionary feature. In the latter, it will appear as a standalone window, as seen in the screenshots at the top of this article.

There’s certainly nothing groundbreaking here, and Apple included some Emojis in previous versions of OS X via the traditional Special Characters window, but for users who want easy access to emojis and symbols, it’s a fun addition in Mavericks.

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Robin Jackson


I cannot make this work on my MacBook Pro Retina with 10.9!

I wonder if it is because I am using a UK keyboard/localisation?

Anyone else in UK got thIS to work?




I also have a MBP Retina running 10.9 with a UK keyboard configuration, and this does not work on mine, either. Must be a US keyboard thing.


- Ironic article on a web site where these emoji cannot be used.

- Robin, Wab95 ~ Check your “Services” preferences, which is where these commands usually reside. I checked mine, and even though the Control-Command-Space works for me, I found nothing. However, since you have UK keyboards, your Services preferences might be different as well.



Many thanks for the recommendation. I just checked, but didn’t see anything related to emoji. Perhaps, in my haste, I missed it.

No loss. I never use them anyway, but was simply responding to Robin’s query.

Gary LearnTech

Awesome!  And from a UK keyboard too!  I’ve already got the Character Viewer and Keyboard Viewer enabled in my menu bar.  That’s not a default, so perhaps you have to do that first?

System Preferences > Keyboard > Keyboard

Then tick “Show Keyboard and Character Viewers in menu bar” option…

I wonder if you need to pair that with the check box here:

System Preferences > Keyboard > Input Sources

It’s definitely not just a US thing.  Good luck!

I never used to use them, but have begun to use them for a bit of fun recently, when I know the recipients are (probably) on Macs. As long as the text can still be clearly understood if they’re not displayed, I don’t mind.

@Jim - I think this is the same large set of characters which was previously available in 10.8 – it’s just slightly easier to access the character palettes now.



Confirmed. Very nicely done, sir.

Many thanks.

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