So today I discovered a cool kaomoji (顔文字) app for iOS that actually adds the faces to the kaomoji shortcut in the Japanese Kana keyboard! If you’re not familiar with what that is, it’s a keyboard option in iOS that looks like this:
The circled smiley ^_^ is how you access the kaomoji in this keyboard. Now, I also have a kaomoji keyboard, but it’s much more convenient for me to simply switch to Japanese (or just continue using it, depending!) and tap the ^_^ to get to all my favorite faces. If you don’t want to add another keyboard to your phone, but you want a quick way to access your favorite kaomoji, I also have a solution for you which I’ll talk about at the end of this post! Just skip to the end if you’re not interested in adding the keyboard or even downloading this app.
Otherwise, let’s continue!
Since you do need this keyboard installed in order to add to the above menu, I’ll go through the steps of adding it if you aren’t already familiar:
First, go into your Settings:
Scroll down until you see this section above, and click Keyboard
If you only have English and maybe the Emoji keyboard installed, you’ll see a 1 or a 2 here. I have 5 (?!) installed at the moment which you’ll see in a second..
Now, the top of this screen will only show keyboards you already have installed. I didn’t want to lose my settings or history for the Japanese keyboard (I don’t know if I would but I’d rather not find out this way!) so I didn’t remove it for the purposes of this quick tutorial.
First click Add New Keyboard
There will be a long list of languages in alphabetical order. Scroll down to J and choose Japanese – Kana
Once you’ve done that, you can exit Settings.
Now, to the app itself!
If you’re feeling adventurous, you could search for 顔文字 (you need to use the kanji for this, searching “kaomoji” will not have the same result!) or you could just click this link!
The full title of the app is かわいい顔文字「かおもじシンプル」〜ユーザー辞書に直接登録できる！めずらしい顔文字もあります! (this title is so long it doesn’t even show up on the app store preview and even less of it is shown below!)
That translates to Cute Kaomoji “Simple Kaomoji” ~Can directly register into user dictionary! Rare kaomoji also included!
So the way this app actually works is, aside from providing a bunch of kaomoji to choose from, it actually uses the Text Replacement / Shortcut feature in iOS, which I thought was pretty clever. Apparently if you use this character: ☻then the shortcut will link directly into the ^_^ menu in the Kana keyboard!
My Text Replacement screen now looks like this:
After opening the app, you’ll see this screen which shows you 12 overall categories. We’ll choose Popular Kaomoji (人気顔文字)
This brings us to yet another group of categories. We’ll choose Cute (かわいい)
Finally we’ve reached the kaomoji!
So on this screen we have two options for extracting our chosen face:
If you want to add the kaomoji directly to your dictionary, you would click the happy looking dictionary with a plus sign in the upper right-hand corner (circled in pink).
If you want to copy the kaomoji, you simply click the face itself (circled in blue).
If you chose to add the kaomoji, you’ll see this message:
This is a basic overview on how it works, and also informs you that you have x number of times left to “try” this feature. I’ll explain that in a minute. Hit OK. (The other option says “Don’t show next time.”
You’re brought to what is actually the Text Replacement add a new shortcut screen!
If you leave the Shortcut as smiley, it will appear in the ^_^ menu as I discussed above. However, you can put whatever text you like in here, so remember that in a minute!
If you chose to copy the kaomoji, you’ll be brought to this screen:
The message at the top tells you that your chosen face has been copied, and provides links to common messaging or email apps you might want to immediately hop to. You can hit the blue Close (閉じる) button at this point.
Now, remember how when we chose to add to dictionary we were warned about a trial period? Here’s what shows up when you run out of tries:
This is the really unfortunate thing about this app – the developer has chosen not to give you an option to use without limit unless you share a link to the app and at least one person downloads it from your link. I prefer not to go this route, so there is an option for me – I can watch an advertisement to gain more “trial” time. I think this app is really neat, and I would have been happy to throw a little money at the creator, but instead this is my only option. If you’d like to watch the video, you can click Watch Video Ad (動画広告を見る)
But! You can still use this app to copy kaomoji limitlessly and now I’m going to show you the other thing I promised at the beginning of this post: how to use kaomoji with your English keyboard. First, copy the kaomoji you want to be able to access from your keyboard.
Next, go back to Settings -> General -> Keyboards. Remember this screen? This time, choose Text Replacement.
Hey, this screen looks familiar!
Paste the kaomoji in the Phrase field, and type whatever combination of characters you’d like to connect to the face in the Shortcut field. Click Save.
Now try it out!
Once I finished typing “mmm”, the kaomoji appeared in my autocomplete bar! Note: this will only appear the first time you type the phrase – if you go back to it later, regular autocomplete options will show up instead.
And that’s it!
Maybe this is something everyone knew by now, but I just hadn’t thought about it because I got used to the Kaomoji menu in the Japanese keyboard. Try it out and let me know what you think!
I’m not as familiar with Android, but if it has a similar autocomplete/shortcut option I bet it would work there too!
I do want to add that even though creating English shortcuts for kaomoji is really convenient and interesting, I’m still going to stick to the Japanese keyboard for a couple of reasons:
1, because I already use it a lot anyway and 2, I get to see ALL my kaomoji at once:
(Note: Most of these are stock kaomoji that just come with the Japanese keyboard!)
I’m a super visual person, so I love looking through the faces to pick out the perfect one instead of trying to remember which phrase I attached to which face… But that’s just my quirk! Which do you like better?
Let me know if this was helpful or interesting for you!