Top tip: Emojis for everyone in Windows 10

Yesterday was World Emoji Day and I posted an article about a brilliant free utility for macOS called Rocket - the developer of which was very helpful in making it VoiceOver accessible so that now, at long last, blind users do finally get in on the emoji fun. Among yesterday's coverage of this crucial world event, however, was a top tip for bringing emojis to everyone on Windows too. Read on…

Easy emojis in Windows 10

Emojis have, of course, been available in Windows for some time. As mouse users, as most of you undoubtedly are, you may be all too aware of how to invoke emojis on your Windows machine - or perhaps you aren't - but, being a blind keyboard user (and hence not knowing what's available or obvious to most mousers out there) they were all but invisible to me. 

In any event, here's a top tip on how to emojify your work mouse-free and without ever moving your fingers from the keyboard.

Screengrab of the emoji picker that comes up when you press Windows and +

Hold down the Windows key followed by '.' (that's the full-stop or period key for readers in the US) and up will pop the emoji panel. Here you can use the Tab and Arrow keys to quickly move through groups such as 'Most recently used', 'Smiley faces and animals', 'People', 'Celebrations and objects' etc. 

By default, you find yourself in the very useful search box. So simply start typing a description of what you're after - such as, to take an example at random, 'poo' to get the smiling pile of poo emoji plus poodle and several more. Easy!

Smiling face yellow emoji with dark sunglasses

What makes this solution so perfect for blind people is two-fold. Firstly, there's the handy hotkey that the Windows team have provided to access the emoji-chooser and, secondly, the fact that this panel is both able to be easily navigated from the keyboard and accessible to a blind user's screen reading software. OK… that's three things.

You may be wondering why a Windows feature wouldn't be accessible. Well, thanks to Microsoft's focus on inclusion, accessibility is indeed almost always a given. A very visual feature like an emoji chooser, however, could so easily have been missed off their accessibility checklist. But no, every emoji is nicely labelled, and each group is easily navigated from the keyboard. Nice job guys.

So remember, 'Windows key + .' for all your Windows emoji goodness, whether you’re a mouse user or not.

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