When preparing a message on Linux, I often want to write rare emoji such as 🐧 or πŸ—Ό.

To insert the emoji, I open a web browser and search for "penguin emoji" or "tokyo tower emoji", then copy from the first website in the results. It takes a few precious seconds.

Is there a faster way to insert emoji, for Linux?

A standalone program is OK, but something as unintrusive and lightweight to the compose key would be the best. Unlike the compose key, it must allow for searching and show several results, because when I search for "rabbit" I want to be able to choose between 🐰 and πŸ‡.

  • Gratis, ideally open source.
  • Ideally should work offline, with a local search index.
  • Gnome > 3.28 can do it. See omgubuntu.co.uk/2018/06/use-emoji-linux-ubuntu-apps
    – pLumo
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 11:37
  • Or Emoji Keyboard.
    – pLumo
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 11:39
  • Wonderful! I had no idea? Please post two answers with screenshots and links so that I can upvote them. Or I can write the answer if you have no time :-)
    – Nicolas Raoul
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 11:50
  • 1
    Feel free to write the answers, as I did not test either of these tools myself ...
    – pLumo
    Commented Sep 5, 2019 at 12:02

2 Answers 2



Try albert with Python Extensions.

It looks good and modern. It works independent of any other program. You simply use a hotkey to call albert overlay, type : and then a substring of an emoji description. It also shows you the recently used emojis after typing only :. To use the chosen emoji, use Enter and it is automatically sent to the clipboard. Then you use Ctrl+V to paste it.

enter image description here

It's fast and works flawlessly for me. πŸ‘Œ πŸ§βœ…


I installed albert from sources. I think it is a more stable option in this case. There should be little problem on Debian-based systems as they listed the needed libraries in a comfortable fashion.

@lacostenycoder reported that you should also install ImageMagick. To do that, on Ubuntu-based distros run

sudo apt install imagemagick -y

After you install albert, download Python Extensions and launch albert, you click the gear in the corner and go to Extensions tab, where you find Python section and Unicode Emojis extension. You enable it and you're ready to use it.

Experienced issues πŸ‘Ί

Some of the emojis don't render correctly 🧱 ❌.

enter image description here

I don't know if it is a fault of albert or a font, though πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ.

Albert is not maintained since 2019 πŸ˜₯, but it still works well (2020).

Development relaunched in November 2020.


Now we also have πŸŒ… Emote, which allows to pick an emoji using a keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Alt+E by default.

Emote interface

There are also categories. It lets you choose the skin color as well (the hand in the top-right corner). An issue I encountered is that the keyboard shortcut stopped working on X11.

  • This is great and I already love Albert. But I get an error when I try to enable the extension, it's grayed out and says missing dependancies:no 'convert' in $PATH any ideas? I'll try reboot, but not sure. Commented May 7, 2021 at 17:37
  • I found the answer, needed to just do sudo apt install imagemagick and restart Albert, now this works!!! Thanks this will save me lots of time!!! Commented May 7, 2021 at 20:02

Gnome has that feature since 2018, and it is active by default in many distributions such as Ubuntu.

  1. Open Ubuntu's Text Editor app
  2. Right-click in the text area
  3. Click "Insert Emoji"
  4. Type in the search box
  5. Choose one of the emojis that come up

rabbit emoji gnome

Unfortunately it is not available in many non-Gnome-centric apps such as Firefox, LibreOffice or Geany.


Thanks pLumo for the tip!

  • that's a lot of steps if you're doing something else and want to type an emoji Commented May 7, 2021 at 17:34
  • @lacostenycoder I totally agree! Really looking forward to any better solution.
    – Nicolas Raoul
    Commented May 9, 2021 at 0:33
  • See the answer above your using Albert. I got it working like a charm! Commented May 9, 2021 at 0:36

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