How to Easily Add Emoticons to File Names in OS X

Emoticons-File-Names-OSX-ThumbEmoticons are arguably the 21st century’s most popular way to communicate when using computers and smartphones. Starting with combinations of text characters, smilies have evolved into emoticons with the development of  Unicode fonts that automatically substitute an image of a smiling face for a specific set of characters. For example, various OS X apps such as iMessage, iChat, etc. that make use of emoticons, will automatically substitute an image of a smiling face if you enter the “:)” text for a smile.

You can also set your own global text substitutions for emoticons, so that you can quickly access them in multiple programs. While this is more useful for enhancing e-mails, chats, messages, etc., OS X also supports the use of emoticons and other symbols in your file names. This is a really unique way of naming files since you can easily search and characterize them using an image instead of simple text characters.

Now, you should know that your Mac does not support dynamic substitution of text in file names with emoticons. For example, if you type “:)” in a file name, OS X will not replace it will a smiley. In order to name your files using emoticons, you’ll have to use OS X’s Character Viewer. To do this, simply follow the steps below:

1. Enable the Character Viewer and open it, using the steps outlined in this article.

2. Locate an emoticon that you would like to use. Use the Emoji section for this.


3. Select the file/folder whose name you want to edit, and press “Enter” to edit its file name.


4. Back in the Character Viewer, simply double-click the symbol to insert it in the file name.


Tip: You can also use this method to use other symbols in file names.

This method also lets you search for a file using Spotlight. After you have added a symbol to the name of the file, you can easily perform a Spotlight search for that symbol to quickly reveal it. However, do know that for the search you will need to use the character palette to enter the appropriate symbol.


This method can be more difficult to manage than fun for some, but it does provide a unique naming option. Also, you should know that all these symbols are Unicode-based and will not work in some services that do not support Unicode. For example, if you frequently use Terminal in OS X, you’ll find that adding symbols to file names will have them appear as “question marks” in Terminal, which will undoubtedly make them more difficult to identify and manage.

Any questions for us? Be sure to let us know in the comments below.

Shujaa Imran
Shujaa Imran

Shujaa Imran is MakeTechEasier's resident Mac tutorial writer. He's currently training to follow his other passion become a commercial pilot. You can check his content out on Youtube

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