How to Enable The Emoji Keyboard in Android 4.1 And Higher

Written by Brian Burgess

There are a ton of Emoji apps available to amp up your emoticons. But devices like the Google Nexus 7 have the capability built right into the OS. Our Brian Burgess shows you how to enable the Emoji keyboard in Android 4.1 and higher.

aNewDomain — Emoji keyboard apps let you add awesome Japanese characters as emoticons. They look cooler than your standard smiley because they have more detail — and there are thousands to choose from. Find Emoji apps here. But there’s no need for an Emoji keyboard app if you own a mobile device running Android 4.1 or higher. That operating system has an Emoji keyboard built in. All you have to do is set it up. Here’s how to enable the Emoji keyboard in Android 4.1 or higher.

Note: For this article I’m using a Nexus 7 running Android 4.3, which is a pure Android experience. If you’re running a heavily-skinned version on a Samsung S4, for example, your results may vary.

How to Enable Emoji Keyboard in Android 4.1 or Higher

To activate the keyboard, first head to Settings > Language & Input. Language & Input

Screenshot image credits: Brian Burgess for

On the next screen scroll down and select iWnn IME. You’ll see the Emoji option under the KEYBOARD & INPUT METHODS section.

iWnn IME Emoji

After you’ve activated it, you’ll still be able to use your normal keyboard as a default. And it will be easy to pull up your Emoji keyboard whenever you want. To pull up the Emoji keyboard after you’ve activated it, just press and hold the spacebar. Then select it from the Choose input method screen.

Choose Input Method

The Emoji keyboard lets you choose among different categories of icons to find the perfect one to emphasize the point you’re trying to get across.

Select Emoji Category

Here’s an example of how I used Emoji in the app on my Google Nexus 7 tablet.

Using Emoji in Email

For, I’m .

Based in Pelican Rapids, MN, Brian Burgess led the relaunch of BYTE with Gina Smith, co-founded with Gina, John C. Dvorak and Jerry Pournelle in 2011, and serves as the editor-in-chief of He is the How To gallery captain here at Email him at or Find him on Google at his +BrianBurgess page. Follow him on Twitter as @mysticgeek.