How to use the Emoji Skin Tones in OS X & iOS

Apple recently released its OS X v10.10.3 and iOS v8.3 updates. Amongst the large list of bug fixes and improvements came “a redesigned Emoji keyboard with over 300 new characters”! Not just that, but there are now various skin tones and hair colours available for most of the ‘people’ Emojis. So, now you don’t have to just send someone a ‘Simpsons-esque yellow person’ anymore.

These new skin tones and hair colours are mainly for the Emoji people emoticons of just a face, as opposed to the Emojis of an entire person’s body, a group or family of people or the standard ‘Smiley face’ Emojis.

For the ones that have the extra skin tones, you’ll be offered along with the default yellow skin tone, 5 new ones ranging from light skin to dark skin.

So, how can you access these? I’ll show you how to access these in both OS X v10.10.3 and in iOS v8.3.

Firstly, how to access the new Emoji Skin Tones in OS X Yosemite v10.10.3:

1) Open an app that supports Emoji character entry, (for my demo I will be using TextEdit).

2) Access the Emoji character list as normal for that application.

For TextEdit, I have selected Emoji and Symbols from the Edit menu:

using the emoji skin tones

3) The first thing to notice about the Emoji and Symbols is the redesigned Emoji keyboard:

emoji ios keyboard

As well as the separate categories at the bottom that you can click on to quickly go to the ‘PEOPLE’ or ‘NATURE’ Emojis for example, you can now directly scroll through the entire list of Emojis in one go.

4) Right, on to accessing these new skin tones.

Click and hold on an Emoji PEOPLE icon and a pop up window should appear offering you the 6 skin tones for that Emoji.

(Remember that only some of the people icons have different skin tones available):

people emojis

As you can see from the screenshot above, by clicking and holding on the police officer emoji, as well as the original yellow skin tone option, there are 5 new light skin to dark skin options.

5) Once you have selected the Emoji skin tone of your choice, this will not only be entered as a character in your document or text message, this skin tone will also now be the new default skin tone for that particular Emoji character in the future:

default skin tone emoji

Notice above that the dark skin Police officer is now my default skin tone for the police officer Emoji once I had chosen that skin tone to use.

NOTE: For those of you using the nice new MacBook and MacBook Pros with Force Touch trackpads, you can perform a secondary, harder tap to access the skin tone modifier window.

Remember, not all the Emjois in the PEOPLE category have these alternative skin tones. This may be added in a future release though so keep an eye out.

For now, emojis like the ‘Family’ and ‘Group’ ones still only have the yellow tone.

So, let’s now see how to access the new Emoji Skin Tones in iOS v8.3:

1) Open an app that supports Emoji character entry, (for my demo I will be using Messages).

2) Access the Emoji character list as normal for that application.

For Messages I have selected the 🙂 smiley face icon from the keyboard:

using the emoji skin tones ios

Again, notice the redesigned Emoji keyboard.

3) Tap and hold on an Emoji PEOPLE icon and a pop up window should appear offering you the 6 skin tones for that Emoji.

(Remember that only some of the people icons have different skin tones):

emoji ios device keyboard

You may also notice that when you first enter the emoji keyboard, iOS informs you of this new skin tone feature:

emoji skin tone message

Remember, Mac users will need to have updated to OS X v10.10.3 (or later) to access the new Emoji keyboard and skin tones. iOS users will need to update to iOS v8.3 (or later).

Worth noting:

If you send someone a message with one of these new emojis, they will need OS X v10.10.3 or iOS v8.3 on their device to see this new icon. Otherwise they will receive a message like the one below:

message update ios 8 emojis

Notice the ‘alien’ icon after the default ‘Older man’ emoji indicating that an icon could not be read correctly.

So there you go, enjoy your new Emojis and your new skin tones!

I hope you have found this blog useful.

If you would like to learn more about using and supporting Apple Devices, then take a look at our collection of OS X and iOS training courses. Amsys is the UK’s largest training centre and offer classroom based and onsite training on a range of OS X and iOS training courses.

Disclaimer:

While the author has taken care to provide our readers with accurate information, please use your discretion before acting upon information based on the blog post. Amsys will not compensate you in any way whatsoever if you ever happen to suffer a loss/inconvenience/damage because of/while making use of information in this blog.

These features were tested using OS X Yosemite v10.10.3 and iOS v8.3 which were the latest Mac OS and iOS releases at the time of writing.

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