Display emojis in Emacs
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Table of contents

What is this?

Emojify is an Emacs extension to display emojis. It can display github style emojis like :smile: or plain ascii ones like :). It tries to be as efficient as possible, while also providing a lot of flexibility

What does it look like?

Here is how the commit log of this project looks with emojify mode enabled


If you prefer a GIF you can view one here.


This package requires Emacs v24.3 and above. Emacs should be compiled with support for PNG images to display emojis as images. It is recommended that Emacs is compiled with ImageMagick support. emojify will use it to resize emojis if needed, additionally imagemagick is used to set background color for emojis to workaround the bug described in issue 7. However these are completely optional.

PNG support might require some additional steps to on Windows, you might find this stackoverflow answer helpful.



emojify is available on MELPA and MELPA Stable. Please follow the instructions on MELPA website to enable it, if you haven’t already.

You can then install emojify from the package menu. Alternatively install it by doing the following

Refresh the package index

M-x package-refresh-contents RET

And then install it by doing

M-x package-install RET emojify


Displaying emojis

emojify-mode can be enabled/disabled separately for a buffer by using the command emojify-mode, to enable/disable it globally use the command global-emojify-mode.

To enable emojify-mode globally at startup add something like the following to your init file

(add-hook 'after-init-hook #'global-emojify-mode)

Emojify integrates with packages like prettify-symbol-mode and org-bullets-mode which display text differently, if the alternate text displayed by these packages match an emoji, emojify will display them too. See Displaying composed text as emojis for more details. Emojify can also display emojis in company-mode tooltips, see Displaying emojis in company mode tooltips for more details.

[EXPERIMENTAL] Emojify can be used for displaying emojis in the mode-line, to enable/disable it for individual buffers use the command emojify-mode-line-mode, to enable/disable it globally use the command global-emojify-mode-line-mode.

Searching emojis

The command emojify-apropos-emoji can be used to display emojis that match given regexp/apropos pattern. The results are displayed in a specialized buffer, where w or c can be used to copy emojis to the kill ring.

Inserting emojis

The command emojify-insert-emoji can be used to insert emojis interactively. While the command works with vanilla Emacs completion system, the experience would be better with something like Helm, Ivy, Icicles or Ido depending on you preference.

Describing emojis

The command emojify-describe-emoji-at-point can be used to view explanation about the command displayed at point. Additionally the command emojify-describe-emoji can be used to display description for an arbitrary emoji.

Listing all emojis

The command emojify-list-emojis can be used to view all the available emojis in a list form.


Displaying composed text as emojis

Emacs provides a way to modify how some parts of buffer are displayed using the composition text property. prettify-symbol-mode and org-bullets-mode are some popular packages that use this feature to display certain text in the buffer differently.

If the alternate display matches an emoji then emojify will display those as emojis too. This is default behaviour. You can disable this behaviour by setting emojify-composed-text-p to nil.

Displaying emojis in company mode tooltips

Emojify can also display emojis that are part of company-mode’s completion tooltip (see company-emoji for an example of such tooltips). However this feature is turned off by default. To turn it on set emojify-company-tooltips-p to t.

Configuring the types of emojis displayed

Emojify by default displays plain text emojis (:)), unicode emojis (😄) and github style emojis :smile:. However this is customizable. You can do so by changing the value of emojify-emoji-styles using the customize interface. To change the value of the variable from Lisp using the function emojify-set-emoji-styles (or set it before loading emojify), call it with one parameter the list of styles that you want to be displayed. The possible styles are

  • ascii - Display only plain ascii emojis
  • unicode - Display only unicode emojis
  • github - Display only github style emojis

Configuring how emojis are displayed

By default emojis are displayed using images. However you can instruct emojify to display it using unicode characters or ascii characters. To do so customize the variable emojify-display-style.

You can set it one of the following values

  • image - Display emojis using images, obviously this requires the Emacs instance to support image
  • unicode - Display emojis using unicode characters, this might be a good option on platforms with good emoji fonts
  • ascii - This is simplest and does not require any external dependencies In this case emojify will display ascii equivalents of github style emojis.

Configuring the buffers where emojify mode is enabled

You can control the buffers where emojify is enabled using emojify-inhibit-major-modes and emojify-inhibit-in-buffer-functions.

Major modes where emojify-mode should be not be enabled

As the names suggests emojify-inhibit-major-modes is a list of major-modes where emojify should not be enabled.

Inhibiting emojify-mode using custom functions

emojify-inhibit-in-buffer-functions is a list of functions that emojify calls before enabling emojify-mode in a buffer. If any of the functions return a non-nil value emojify-mode is not enabled in the buffer. Users can add custom functions to this list if they wish to inhibit emojify in certain buffers. The functions are called with one argument the buffer where emojify-mode is about to be enabled.

Configuring the texts that are displayed as emojis

emojify offers two variables to inhibit the display of certain emojis.

Controlling the display of emojis in programming modes

If enabled in programming modes emojify by default will display only emojis in string and comments. This behaviour can be customized using the variable emojify-prog-contexts. The variable can be set to one of the following values

  • comments - Display emojis only in comments
  • string - Display emojis only in string
  • both - Display emojis in comments as well as string
  • none - Do not display emojis in programming modes

Inhibiting display of emojis using custom functions

emojify-inhibit-functions is a list of function emojify calls before displaying certain text as emoji, if any of the functions return a non-nil value the corresponding text is not displayed as emoji. Users can add custom functions to this list, if they inhibit display of emojis in under certain conditions. The functions are called with three arguments

  • text - The text that is about to be displayed as an emoji
  • beg - The beginning point of text in the buffer
  • end - The ending point of text in the buffer

These functions are called with the buffer where emoji is being displayed selected.

Customizing the behaviour when point enters an emoji

The behaviour when point enters an emoji can be customized using the variable emojify-point-entered-behaviour. It can have one of the following values

  • echo - Display the emojified text in the minibuffer
  • uncover - Temporarily display the underlying text while point is in the emojified text

Additionally it can be set to a custom function, the function is called with two parameters (the buffer where the emoji appears is selected while running the function)

  • beg - The beginning position of the text displayed as emoji
  • end - The ending position of the text displayed as emoji

The return value of the function is ignored.

Note: The custom function will be called for once for each character in an emoji as point moves through them. Avoid manipulating the buffer in these functions

Customizing the behaviour during isearch-mode

By default in isearch-mode the underlying emoji is displayed temporarily when point enters the emoji while searching (similar to uncover behaviour mentioned above). This can be disabled by setting emojify-reveal-on-isearch to nil.

Customizing the behaviour when mouse hovers over an emoji

When mouse hovers over a emoji, the underlying text is displayed in a help popup. This behaviour can be disabled by setting emojify-show-help to nil.

Custom emojis

You can specify custom emojis using the emojify-user-emojis variable. You need to set it to an alist where first element of cons is the text to be displayed as emoji, while the second element of the cons is an alist containing data about the emoji.

The inner alist should have atleast

  1. “name” - The name of the emoji
  2. “style” - This should be one of “github”, “ascii” or “github”

Additionally the alist should contain one of (see emojify-display-style)

  1. “unicode” - The replacement for the provided emoji for “unicode” display style
  2. “image” - The replacement for the provided emoji for “image” display style. This should be the absolute path to the image
  3. “ascii” - The replacement for the provided emoji for “ascii” display style

It is best to set this variable before you load emojify, in case you set this variable after loading emojify run the function emojify-set-emoji-data to recalculate emoji data.

User emojis take precedence over default emojis so the above mechanism can also be used to override the default emojis


Below is an example of setting up custom emojis. Assuming that the custom images are at \~/.emacs.d/emojis/trollface.png and \~/.emacs.d/emojis/neckbeard.png, you instruct emojify to display :trollface: and :neckbeard: as :trollface: and :neckbeard:

(setq emojify-user-emojis '((":trollface:" . (("name" . "Troll Face")
                                              ("image" . "~/.emacs.d/emojis/trollface.png")
                                              ("style" . "github")))
                            (":neckbeard:" . (("name" . "Neckbeard")
                                              ("image" . "~/.emacs.d/emojis/neckbeard.png")
                                              ("style" . "github")))))

;; If emojify is already loaded refresh emoji data
(when (featurep 'emojify)

Known issues

  • Emojis are not properly updated after customizing emojify-display-style or emojify-program-contexts. For time being you will be fine as long as you set these variables before emojify has loaded.
  • Some of the emojis prompted in the commands like emojify-insert-emoji might not be displayed by emojify, this might happen if you have newer emoji data but old set of images. Download the latest emoji image using emojify-download-emoji and set emojify-emoji-set to the downloaded set.


Code as well as documentation contributions are welcome.

Cask is used to manage project dependencies so make sure you have it installed. To run the tests you need to install the dependencies by running the following

cask install

After the installation completes you can run the tests by running the following command

cask exec ert-runner


Special thanks to @ryanprior for bug reports and valuable feedback on the issue tracker.


Emoji set designed and offered free by Emoji One.


The emoji images are distributed under Creative Commons License (CC-BY-SA). The source code itself is distributed under GNU General Public License v3. See LICENSE.