What are the possibilities to insert, choose and use an emoji in Ubuntu 18.04 and later?

  • in case Google has led someone here since their emojis have gone black and white here's a quick fix: sudo curl -o /etc/fonts/local.conf https://pastebin.com/raw/atfUQQ2j
    – aderchox
    Jul 19, 2020 at 15:35

6 Answers 6

  1. With the release of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS you can use emoji on Ubuntu right out of the box 👍, so you already have everything you need for the native GTK Linux apps like Gedit, Corebird, Rhythmbox and probably Geary (Source: OMG Ubuntu). All you have to do to access the emoji picker in a native Linux app is right-click (or Control-. ) in a text-field and select the “Insert Emoji” option from the context menu. enter image description here This picker pop-over lets you:

    • Browse emoji by category
    • Pick from recently used emoji
    • Search for emoji by name
    • Click on an emoji to enter it
      The emoji picker even works on other Linux distros & desktops besides Ubuntu, including Ubuntu MATE and Ubuntu Budgie.
      Sadly the emoji picker doesn’t work everywhere 😞. You won’t see the option provided in non-GTK apps, like Firefox, Wire Messenger, Chromium, or LibreOffice, even not with Evolution (the previous default email client in Ubuntu).
      If the app you’re using doesn’t have that option, please file a bug, like the one for gedit.
      For more background info browse to Ubuntu Community Hub.
  2. For Ubuntu 18.10 and later, Emoji Choice popup is handy tool, see answer of kenorb, please vote his answer up, too.
    Hitting Control-Shift-E, then press Space works in most apps.

  3. For non-GTK apps like Firefox, Wire Messenger, Chromium, or LibreOffice, you can use the GNOME Shell Extensions Emoji Selector:enter image description here

  4. Another option is to install the GNOME Characters app to easily browse emoji.
    Optionally, you can enable emoji search in the Activities Overview by using the Settings app. Just open Settings > Search and turn on Characters.enter image description here

  5. If you are not on Gnome, this Emoji keyboard is simple but effective. You can find more information on the virtual keyboard-like emoji picker app (plus an installer) over on the project Github page. enter image description here

  6. UniEmoji (for a specific input framework called IBus): "If you prefer to type them out for easy use, then there’s a very easy solution on Linux. It combines software to let you type in foreign languages, with an input method that gives it the ability to type in emojis. When everything is set up, you should be able to type whatever emoji you like, either by inputting them, or searching. This can be much faster and easier than something like a popup window, but takes a little more setting up." For how to set this up, please check this article. As it is quite long, the integration of the instructions would push the boundaries of this answer.

  7. Mojibar could be an option (although not updated since 2017), it works on many desktop environments, see answer of kissu, please vote his answer up, too. You can download the zip-folder of the Electron App, and drag into your apps folder and it probably works without installing, just double-click on the Mojibar file.

  8. In Ubuntu 19.04 (and later): GNOME 3.32 adds emoji input to the on-screen keyboard, it should make it easier to reply with a well-timed emote from a touchscreen device. enter image description here

  9. Emote was mentioned by James, please vote the answer below up, too. The emoji picker can be opened with either the keyboard shortcut (choosing one or several emojis) or by clicking the app icon again. More details on the Github page.
    Install the snap app from the Software Center or Snap Store on or in a terminal:

    sudo snap install emote enter image description here

  10. Emoji OnBoard keyboard layout was mentioned by Tanius, please vote the answer below up, too. It is an emoji chooser layout for the default Ubuntu onscreen keyboard "Onboard". strong textIt works for all applications. Instructions for how to us on the github. enter image description here

  11. There might be an answer to an earlier question that still works for you.

Which emoji font will be shown?
When there are more than one emoji fonts installed, different apps use different fonts:
e.g. Segoe Emoji (seguiemj.ttf) is used by the Wire desktop App by default, Emoji One (emojione-android.ttf) is used by Evolution by default on my Ubuntu 20.04 system.

How to only use Noto Emoji font?
Uninstall the other emoji fonts:
Search in Font Manager (font-manager in the normal package list) for emoji fonts.
Open the corresponding folders as root.
Delete the emoji fonts (e.g. seguiemj.ttf, emojione-android.ttf).
Restart the app (or login/logout of the session).

For Thunderbird to behave, I did this:
I created ~/.config/fontconfig/conf.d/01-emoji.conf with the following text:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE fontconfig SYSTEM "fonts.dtd">
      <family>Noto Color Emoji</family>
      <family>Noto Color Emoji</family>
      <family>Noto Color Emoji</family>

Then run:

fc-cache -f -v

The answers to this question can be helpful, too: 18.04: color emoji not showing up at all in Chrome, only partially in Firefox
And a similar answer: How do I configure the default emoji font to be used in OS/Browser?.

  • Is the keyboard available in other Ubuntu 18.04 flavors too ? Jul 9, 2018 at 10:09
  • @SushantChaudhary Option 1, 3, 4, 5 probably work, 2 only with a GNOME desktop.
    – Filbuntu
    Jul 10, 2018 at 8:27
  • For #3 is there a way to disable searching (from Activities view) other characters that aren't emojis? usually searching for something brings me an Arab character or the old emojis (like this one ☺) not the color ones
    – Felipe
    Jan 21, 2019 at 20:59
  • hi, for #8 i have problem, i can show the emoji selector, but when tapping on the emoji, nothing happen, when switch to regular char, the onscreen keyboard can type as usual, though the #1 and #2 is working flawlessly, os is pop os 19.04, any idea what could be wrong?
    – am05mhz
    Sep 20, 2019 at 7:42
  • @Felipe Did you find a solution for your problems? If yes, could you please share it with us?
    – Filbuntu
    Nov 1, 2019 at 0:52

Use the following keyboard shortcuts:

  1. Hit Control-Shift-E, then press Space.

  2. You should see the Emoji Choice popup where you can select your unicode character.

    Note: To cancel the selection, press Escape few times.

Emoji Choice on GNOME Terminal, Animals & Nature, Unicode special characters

Tested on Ubuntu Cosmic (18.10). It should work in editors, terminal, web browsers and other applications.

  • This even works in Firefox and LibreOffice Writer (in Ubuntu 20.04 LTS)
    – Flimm
    Sep 16, 2020 at 13:32
  • 20
    I'm on ubuntu 20.04 and ctrl + shift + e, then spaces does nothing, how to enable that?
    – Arnold Roa
    Oct 22, 2020 at 19:49
  • 3
    I'm on Ubuntu Budgie 18.04 and ctrl + shift + e, then spaces does nothing, how to enable that?
    – Marecky
    Nov 15, 2020 at 11:42
  • Go to Settings / Region and Language / Manage Installed Languages / Keyboard Input System Method. Choose XIM. Restart. May break chats with your waifu. github.com/microsoft/vscode/issues/84464#issuecomment-559415030
    – Ray Foss
    Feb 6, 2021 at 19:07
  • 1
    doesn't work for me
    – jvdh
    Nov 8, 2021 at 16:01

Emote is a modern, system-wide emoji picker which is a decent option in 2021.


It should work on all major desktop environments and supports both X11 and Wayland.

emote app window

  • Tamale test: 🫔
    – Bruno Kim
    Mar 14 at 14:40

You can use the Emoji OnBoard keyboard layout. It is an emoji chooser layout for the default Ubuntu onscreen keyboard "Onboard":

enter image description here

Unlike many other solutions, it works together with all applications. While for example emoji-keyboard can only insert the emoji characters directly into Gtk applications and otherwise is restricted to copying them into the clipboard. So there is definitely a way to do software keyboards right under Linux, and I wonder why it's not more widespread ...


Mojibar is also a great alternative that is X-platform and not dependent of the desktop environment ! :)

The maintainer is not merging any PR for sometime but I guess that you can fork it and use your own version of the repo. :D


I will just add additional information to @Filbuntu 's answer on how to add GNOME Shell Extensions Emoji Selector to Ubuntu Firefox based on my experience.

First you will need to open add ons menu, and add this extension: GNOME Shell integration Gnome Shell Integration Screenshot image

After that, you can go to this page https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/1162/emoji-selector/

If there is an error message like "native host connector is not detected", then you need to install chrome-gnome-shell using the following step based on this answers

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get install chrome-gnome-shell 

After chrome-gnome-shell, you can refresh the gnome shell extensions website, then the message should be disappear, and can turning on the switch which is located at the top right corner. After that, then the emoji icon should appear on your top bar and you can start using it by clicking on it and choose the icon you want.

switch on image

emoji icon image

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