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How to Search for a Specific Emoji on iPhone

Apple Blush Smiley Emoji Hero

Most of us use emoji on our iPhone, but until recently finding the right one has been tricky. Luckily, starting in iOS 14, you can now search for emoji directly within the Emoji keyboard in any app on an iPhone. Here’s how.

First, open the app you’d like to type an emoji into. Tap any text-input area, and when the on-screen keyboard appears, tap the emoji keyboard button.

On an iPhone or iPad, tap the "Emoji" keyboard button on the on-screen keyboard.

(If you don’t see the emoji button in your on-screen keyboard, that means the emoji keyboard has been deactivated in Settings. To get it back, navigate to Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards. Tap “Add New Keyboard.” Select, “Emoji.”)

When the emoji keyboard pops up, tap the “Search Emoji” text input area. If you don’t see the “Search Emoji” area, you’ll need to update your iPhone to iOS 14 or later first.

RELATED: How to Update Your iPhone to the Latest iOS Version

On iPhone, tap the "search emoji" box.

Type in a word that describes the emoji you’re looking for, and you will see potential matches displayed horizontally in an area just under the search box. And you can search by category as well. For example, typing “fire” will bring up the flame emoji, a fireball, a firetruck, and more.

Type in a word in the emoji keyboard.

If you type in a word with a large number of potential matches (such as “animal” in this example), you can scroll through them by sliding your finger to the left or right along the search result bar. As you swipe, more emoji will be revealed.

Swipe through emoji search results with your finger on iPhone.

When you locate the emoji you’d like to use, tap it, and it will be inserted into the app you’re using.

Tap the emoji you'd like to use.

As of this writing, this technique only works on iPhone, but the emoji search bar may come to iPad soon in a future update. For now, if you’d like to search for emoji on your iPad, you’ll have to use the older “predictive text” technique.

Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is a Staff Writer for How-To Geek. For over 14 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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