A file name with a cat emoji on Windows 10.

Did you know that emoji work almost anywhere these days? You can use them in nearly any application on your computer. You can even insert them into file and folder names on Windows 10.

How to Use Emoji in File Names

This is easy thanks to Windows 10’s built-in emoji picker. It’s easy to miss—to open it, you have to press Windows+. (period) or Windows+; (semicolon.)

Adding an emoji to a file name in Windows 10 using File Explorer.

To insert an emoji into a file or folder name, just press the keyboard shortcut while renaming a file to open the picker. Start typing a search phrase to search the emoji—for example, type “dog” to search for dog-related emoji or “cat” to search for cat-related emoji—or use your mouse to click and scroll through the list. Press Enter or click an emoji to insert it.

Searching for cat emoji on Windows 10.

That’s it, you’re done—it’s that simple!

Files with emoji in their names on Windows 10.

RELATED: Secret Hotkey Opens Windows 10's New Emoji Picker in Any App

Unicode Makes This Possible

This is all possible thanks to Unicode. Unicode includes “characters for all the writing systems of the world, modern and ancient,” according to The Unicode Consortium. It also includes emoji and various other symbols.

You’ll notice that, when you use emoji in file and folder names, you don’t get the full-color emoji you get elsewhere in Windows. You get small, black-and-white characters—just like you would when inserting emoji in Notepad.

Thanks to Unicode, any application that supports standard Unicode characters—even if it doesn’t support colorful emoji—can use the emoji characters found in standard fonts. Using an emoji in a filename is just like using a character or symbol from a different language. It just works.

Will It Break Anything?

In theory, some applications may not like these emoji if they don’t support unicode characters. However, modern applications are designed to work with a broad set of languages should properly support emoji.

For example, the classic Windows Command Prompt can’t see emoji characters in file names properly, but both PowerShell and Microsoft’s new Windows Terminal can display them properly.

How emoji are treated in Windows PowerShell and Command Prompt.

If you do run into a problem, you can always open File Explorer and rename the affected files and folders to remove the emoji characters. You can then use those files in applications that don’t properly support emoji file names.

RELATED: The New Windows Terminal Is Ready; Here's Why It's Amazing

Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor in Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for nearly a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than 500 million times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
Read Full Bio »

The above article may contain affiliate links, which help support How-To Geek.