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How to use emojis and tapbacks in messages on iPhone and iPad


If you like sending emojis in your texts and iMessages, Apple makes it incredibly easy. Between Tapback for direct response to a message and the use of machine learning to know which emojis to recommend, Apple understands that these little pictograms are some of the best iPhone communication tools.

If that doesn’t sound important to you, then you haven’t seen what kind of cheering emojis get on stage or the amount of interest they provoke on social platforms. They are big, smiling, thumbs up!

If you want to spice up your messages to friends and family, you can fill them with emoji thumbnails as much as you want! Here’s how you do it!

How do you get recommendations for emoji thumbnails in Messages?

Apple’s predictive QuickType keyboard can suggest emoticons as well as, you know, plain words. The predictive keyboard must be turned on in Settings and cannot be hidden, so see our QuickType keyboard guide first if you need help setting up.

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  1. Start typing in the Messages text box.
  2. Tap any emoji predictions which appear in the prediction bar. If more than one prediction is displayed, tap the one you want.
  3. Touch Send button. (It looks like an up arrow.)

    Source: iMore

Emoticon predictions will appear whenever you enter something that has the appropriate emoji. For example, “I’m happy” will predict “[smiley face]”” My car will suggest. “[car]”emoji.

pro-type: If you do not want the emojis to take the place of the word, but to appear next to it, put a space between the words before you touch the desired emoticon.

How to replace words with emoticons in Messages?

This “emojiification” process works similarly to emoji recommendations and will work in both iMessages and standard SMS texts.

  1. Enter an iMessage in the text box.
  2. Touch Emoji keyboard button.
  3. Touch a word which is highlighted in orange to replace it with matching emoji thumbnails.

    How to emojify a message, showing how to type iMessage, tap the emoticon button on the keyboard and tap the orange word

    Source: iMore

  4. Keep tapping words highlight until you “emojify” everything you want.
  5. Touch Send button (Looks like an up arrow).

    How to emojify a message by showing you how to keep tapping orange words until you emojiify everything you want, then tap Send

    Source: iMore

With emoji, you can turn as many – or as many – words into emojis as you want.

How do you react to Tapback in iMessage?

Emoji are not just for answering; they are also responsive. Apple calls them Tapbacks. They are similar to Slack or Facebook emoji reactions and fall right on any iMessage balloon they send you.

  1. Touch and hold (long press) or double-tap iMessage sent your way.
  2. Touch Tapback you want to send: Heart, thumb up, thumb down, Ha ha, !!, or?.

    How to use Tapbacks in Messaging, showing how to open messages, tap and hold the message sent to you, then tap Tapback you want to send

    Source: iMore

No need to press send; The tapback reaction goes right away.

What do the different Tapback reactions mean?

Theoretically, these Tapback reactions can mean whatever you want. Context is king, and a thumbs up tapback can mean something different to your mom than it does to your best friend. Here’s a basic guide to all the Tapback reactions available and what they might mean.

  • Heart: Like, love or favorite
  • Thumbs up: Happy, I approve or agree
  • Thumbs down: Sad, disapproving or disagreeing
  • Haha: Laugh, joyfully or sarcastically.
  • !!: Click out loud.
  • ?: Question.

How to change the Tapback response on iMessage?

If you answer with the wrong Tapback or later decide you want a different Tapback, you can easily make the change.

  1. Touch and hold (long press) or double-tap iMessage with the Tapback you want to change.
  2. Touch Tapback want to change to: Heart, thumb up, thumb down, Ha ha, !!, or?.

    How to change the Tapback in messages that shows how to tap and hold the message you attached the Tapback to, then tap the new Tapback you want to use

    Source: iMore

The new Tapback will take the place of the old one.

How to delete Tapback reaction on iMessage?

If you accidentally send a Tapback or have simply considered sending it, you can also remove it.

  1. Touch a Tapback which you want to remove.
  2. Touch Tapback that you want to remove (i.e., if you want to remove the Heart, tap Heart.)

    Delete a Tapback that shows you how to tap the Tapback you want to remove, and then tap it again in the Tapback pop-up menu.

    Source: iMore

The tapback will disappear for you and the recipient.

Emote away

Using emoticons has never been easier, and the Tapbacks just somehow made things even simpler. You can now send spam to these happy and cheerful pictograms as much as you want. Here’s to having lively and fun conversations in just a few touches.

Updated November 2021: Updated for iOS 15.





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Naveen Kumar

Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.

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