In written communication, it’s often hard to convey the right emotion. Getting your point across in an email is a completely different problem than clearly communicating on a call or in-person. Even if you do craft a perfectly written email, it’s still a roll of the dice whether or not you’re going to be interpreted correctly. Emojis might be useful in brightening up the mood of an email or text, even if they aren’t always appropriate for business communications. While emojis are just a standard part of your mobile phone’s input and keyboard apps, it’s less common for people to use them on the desktop.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Emoji

It’s taken a long time for me to warm up to emojis. After all, I’ve spent a good part of my life and career learning how to communicate in writing, so icons seem (to me) to be a downgrade in effective expression. There are some venues where icons and pictographics have always been important, like international travel or safety information, but to use them in a text message felt “cutesy” and facile, to me at least.

As I interact more with people younger than me—who would have had a cell phone before college—it’s pretty clear that emojis are sometimes necessary to convey the right information or set the tone of a message. A smiley face in the right spot can really help clarify some statements that would otherwise sound sarcastic or strange if you don’t know that it’s said lightheartedly. Most texting and chat apps have shortcuts to putting a “thumbs-up” or “smiley” emoji on messages now.

If I had to guess, people probably write a lot more now than people in the 1990s did, but people write almost exclusively informally today. With the lack of precision, care, and clarity in writing these days, emojis and abbreviations have become necessary parts of how to communicate in some written forms. I could clutch my pearls and tell kids to “get off my lawn” over these kinds of things, but I’d rather people know what I mean in the most immediate way possible.

Using Windows’ Emoji Keyboard

If I’ve helped you see emojis in a new light, then you can access Windows’ emoji keyboard with the Win+. (windows key + period) shortcut. When it comes up, you can select one of the commonly used ones, or search for one by keyword. If you put one in an email or document, it will be the version of the emoji used by the system (of the device it’s open on), so it will render slightly differently in each operating system or platform. For instance, here, on the left, is how Gmail renders the “melting face” emoji (left) and how Windows does (right): melting face

If emojis are still not your thing, the Win+. shortcut has some slick features in it, including reaction gifs and a quick way to access your system’s clipboard (things that you’ve copied recently). It also has a section for symbols and accented characters, but if you find yourself writing in languages that use accents or a few extra letters occasionally, I recommend checking out Quick Accent in PowerToys.

-Written by Derek Jeppsen on Behalf of Sean Goss and Crown Computers Team