Software

How to use emoji in G Suite apps

Sometimes, it's more efficient—and meaningful—to add an emoji than to type more words. Here's how to enable and add emoji in G Suite apps on multiple platforms.

On May 8, 2018, Google CEO Sundar Pichai began a Google I/O '18 keynote with a confession. "Towards the end of last year, it came to my attention that we had a major bug in one of our core products," Pichai said. "It turns out we got the cheese wrong in our burger emoji." As the team fixed that bug, they also addressed a problem with a beer emoji that somehow left an air gap: Foam floated above a glass only half-filled with beer.

And while Pichai clearly intended the emoji error as a humorous introduction, emoji do serve a central role in global communication. IDC estimates global Android smartphone market share at more than 80%. As people send billions of emoji every day, these images add meaning to—and sometimes replace—words.

Of course, people use emoji at work. In August 2018, Hangouts Chat on the web added support for emoji reactions. Happy to see a positive post from a colleague? Tap the emoji reaction icon and add a "thumbs up" emoji—or select from any other emoji as a response in Hangouts Chat. (As of early September 2018, emoji reactions aren't yet available in the Hangouts Chat Android or iOS apps.)

Screenshot showing 1 thinking face reaction to a Hangouts Chat post.

On the web, add an emoji reaction to a Hangouts Chat comment.

Emoji seep into G Suite apps in all sorts of interesting ways. You can use emoji in documents, in file names, or in various communications apps. And emoji may help you communicate some information more efficiently. Compare the single flight departure emoji with characters in "flight departure." In this case, a picture is worth at least 16 characters.

Sample shows emoji to the left of each of the item listed in the caption.

You can use emoji in G Suite in documents, file or folder names, calendar events, Keep notes or, of course, Gmail and Chat.

But how you insert an emoji will vary by the app and device you use. Here's how to add emoji in many of the widely-used G Suite apps on different devices.

On some systems, you can press a few keys to access emoji. Hold the Windows key and . (period) to pull up the emoji picker on up-to-date Windows 10 systems. The Windows key and ; (semicolon) should bring up access as well. On macOS, press three keys simultaneously, Command-Ctrl-space, to see emoji options.

SEE: Cost comparison calculator: G Suite vs. Office 365 (Tech Pro Research)

Chrome OS and Chrome on the desktop offer additional ways to add emoji. The on-screen keyboard in Chrome OS includes an emoji keyboard. You can enable the on-screen keyboard under Chrome OS accessibility options: From the Omnibox, type chrome://settings, then choose > Advanced > Manage accessibility features > then slide "Enable on-screen keyboard" to "on."

With the on-screen keyboard visible, select the "More menu" (the three vertical dots to the left of the on-screen space bar), then choose the emoji icon to switch to the emoji picker. (In Google Docs in Chrome you may choose Insert > Special characters > then select "Emoji" from the drop-down menu to select, draw, and search for emoji characters.)

Two screenshots: Top, shows on-screen keyboard setting enabled, bottom shows how to select emoji picker from the keyboard's "More" menu.

On Chrome OS, you may enable the on-screen keyboard (top), then access the emoji from the 'More' menu (bottom).

Alternatively, an experimental Chrome flag allows context menu access to an emoji menu in many text fields on macOS, Windows, and Chrome OS systems. To enable the flag, type chrome://flags in the Omnibox, then look for the "Emoji Context Menu" setting, enable it, and relaunch your browser. Once active, a right-click will show an "Emoji" menu option on Windows and Chrome, while the cursor is in a Google search field, for example.

SEE: How to use Google's Gboard keyboard on iOS or Android devices (TechRepublic)

On Android devices, install Gboard - the Google Keyboard app from the Google Play store. Then, tap the emoji icon—to the left of the space bar—to either select or search for emoji. Then insert emoji into any of Google's apps on Android, including Gmail, Google Calendar, Docs, Sheets, Slides, or Google Keep. (Gboard is also available for iOS.)

Screenshot showing smiling face and thumbs up emoji in Google Slides on Android phone. Gboard emoji keyboard displayed at bottom of screen.

On Android devices, access emoji from Gboard - the Google Keyboard app.

On iOS devices, emoji support varies by G Suite app. You have full access to Apple's built-in emoji keyboard in the Gmail, Google Keep, Sheets, and Calendar app. (Tap the emoji icon to the left of the microphone and/or space bar to switch to the iOS emoji keyboard.)

But as of early September 2018, you can't enter emoji directly into either the Google Docs or Google Slides app on an iPhone or iPad. As an alternative, you might type the emoji you need into another app, such as Google Keep, then select it, copy it, and paste it into Google Docs or Slides.

Screenshot of Google Keep note with text and emoji displayed.

Use either the native Apple Keyboard or Gboard on an iPhone or iPad to add emoji in Gmail, Keep, Sheets, or Google Calendar. As of September 2018, to add emoji into the Google Docs or Slides app on iOS, type emoji in Google Keep, select the characters, copy them, then paste the content into your Docs or Slides file. (Screenshot is of a Google Keep note on an iPhone.)

Emojipedia.org serves as a central reference site for emoji, where you can search, select, and copy emoji that you may then paste into an app. The site also shows how the various vendors, such as Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, illustrate emoji differently.

The study, impact, and cultural importance of emoji goes well beyond simple hand-signs. The Emoji Wrap podcast with Jeremy Burge, the founder of Emojipedia, covers global emoji news and trends. The Emoji Code: The Linguistics Behind Smiley Faces and Scaredy Cats, by Vyv Evans, explores how emoji fit into the centuries-old use of images. And in September 2018, FirstMonday.org delivered a special issue on the epistemology of emoji. For teachers, there's even a web app, Edji.it, that encourages students to provide critical analysis of content via emoji.

What do you think?

Have you used emoji reactions in Hangouts Chat? More broadly, how do you use emoji to communicate at work? Do you use emoji every day to communicate? Or, do you feel that emoji have no place in professional communications? Let me know what you think, either in the comments below or on Twitter ( @awolber).

Also see

Hangouts Chat style message drafted as if from G Suite, message "How to access and use emoji in G Suite apps on multiple platforms." With 3 reactions: 1 smiling face, 1 thinking face, 2 thumbs up
Illustration: Andy Wolber / TechRepublic

About Andy Wolber

Andy Wolber helps people understand and leverage technology for social impact. He resides in Albuquerque, NM with his wife, Liz, and daughter, Katie.

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