A thinking face emojii over a background of Wi-Fi logos.

If you’re on a quest for quirky and funny Wi-Fi network names, you may have wondered if you could use emoji. Let’s blow the dust off an old standards manual and get to the bottom of things.

Emoji have been around for over decades—they first appeared in the late 1990s on Japanese mobile phones—and have slowly worked their way into, seemingly, everything. People use them in text messages, as video reactions, and anywhere a succinct pictographic representation of an emotion or idea is needed.

So with all the emoji saturation, perhaps you’ve wondered if you could slap an emoji (or ten!) in your Wi-Fi network’s name.

You Can Put Emoji (and More) in Network Names

Wonder no more, because the good news is… you can! Although we’d recommend reading the entire article to get the full picture first.

It might seem counterintuitive that you can use emoji after a lifetime of seeing basic Wi-Fi network names, formally called SSIDs, with basic alphanumeric names like NETGEAR-938HE3 or CoffeeShopFreeWiFi.

But if you dig into the governing standards for Wi-Fi, the 802.11 standards maintained by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), you find something surprising:Β The only constraint for setting an SSID for a wireless network is that it must be between 1 and 32 octets long, an octet being 8 bits of data.

Conveniently, the characters in the UTF-8 Unicode Standard character set meet that criteria and are a valid option for inclusion in an SSID.

As of Unicode 14.0, there are 144,697 characters, including characters for hundreds of languages and thousands of emoji symbols. Emoji symbols, interestingly enough, are 2 octets not a single octet like the character A or the number 2.

So every emoji in your SSID counts as two regular plaintext characters—you can have a 16 emoji SSID, a 30 plaintext character SSID with a single emoji, or any combination between the two that adds up to 32 total octets.

Tip: Typing emoji on mobile devices is easy but can be tricky on computers. Use the keyboard shortcut Win+. on Windows 10 and 11 PCs and Control+Command+Space on macOS in any text box to pull up the emoji picker.

We rolled out two temporary Wi-Fi networks to demonstrate how you can use emoji and symbols from non-English languages to create unique Wi-Fi names. Here’s what the available networks view on our iPhone looks with the two networks active.

Examples of Wi-Fi names with unconventional name structures, seen on an iPhone.

There’s a neighbor’s boring ol’ NETGEAR07 SSID leaking over into our air space, and then you can see our much more interesting “shruggie” name, Β―\_(ツ)_/Β― , that takes advantage of Japanese katakana to create the appearance of a face, and then a modern emoji in the form of a lock, πŸ”’.

As long as the firmware on the Wi-Fi router you’re configuring doesn’t restrict you to more basic character set like just A-Z, a-z, and simple keyboard symbols, the sky is really the limit when it comes to whatever emoji or other characters you want to put in there.

You could try to tell a whole emojii story in your SSID if you wished, like on a full moon a vampire turns into a bat, flies to a castle, and fights a ninja to the death: πŸŒ•πŸ§›β€β™‚οΈπŸ¦‡πŸ°πŸ₯·βš”οΈπŸ’€

Remember, you can have up to 16 emoji. We only used 7 in this example, which leaves room for an entire sequel to our vampire/ninja story.

Sure, You Can Use Emoji, But Should You?

You might be asking yourself, just because you can do something,Β should you do it? Despite the anything-goes approach the 802.11 standard takes to what characters are valid for use in the SSID space, there are some valid reasons to keep things boring.

Using “exotic” characters relies on the viewer having access to the same character set to understand what they are looking at, it also requires them, in some cases, to input them. While most devices automatically detect Wi-Fi SSIDs so you don’t have to manually input them, sometimes you do.

In the case of devices where you have to manually peck out the SSID and password on a little touch screen using the standard QWERTY keyboard symbols, you’re out of luck when it comes to anything beyond that basic set. It’s also a hassle if you have devices on your network you configure via the command line or startup scripts.

Further, sometimes bizarre bugs can crop up like this iOS 14 bug where SSIDs with % symbols in the name would permanently disable Wi-Fi access on the iPhone, necessitating a device reset. NETGEAR07 might be a boring name, but at least it’s not a break-your-phone name.

And hey, even if old devices or worries about strange bugs don’t concern you, there’s still the perpetual problem with emoji having a lost-in-translation effect.

The Unicode for emoji might be standardized in terms of the numeric identifiers for each emoji, but what the emoji looks like certainly isn’t. That’s a minor thing, but face and people emojiis often translate poorly across devices.

But if none of that gives you pause, and you’re willing to fuss around with your network and devices in the rare case issues arise, why not have some fun. The 802.11 standard supports packing up to 32 emoji into your Wi-Fi network name, so live a little. You might just be one cow and 31 poop emoji away from truly expressing yourself.

Profile Photo for Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Senior Smart Home Editor at How-To Geek. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at How-To Geek, Review Geek, LifeSavvy, and Lifehacker. Jason served as Lifehacker's Weekend Editor before he joined How-To Geek.
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