IBus-UniEmoji – Type Emoji Directly into Your Linux Desktop

I don’t know how often you type Emoji using your Linux desktop but none of the Ubuntu distros ships with that feature. The normal way to go about entering Emoji is to copy it and paste it into your desired location. It is thanks to IBUs-UniEmoji that you no longer need to do that.

IBus-UniEmoji is an Input Method that allows you to enter Unicode symbols and emoji by entering their name. It makes use of the IBus (Input Bus) framework – an input framework for Linux OS that provides full-featured and user-friendly input method UI.

The open source IBus-UniEmoji uses several sources against which it checks for emojis and returns them in order of their source. It also makes use of fuzzy search and so entering ‘egplnt‘ will return “eggplant“.

The GitHib page describes how IBus-UniEmoji carries out its searches and formats its results:

  • If the character has an “emoji shortname” (provided by EmojiOne), the shortname will appear first in the result, surrounded by colons. A shortname is also a good indication that the candidate has an graphical representation, which will be replaced by an actual image on some clients (such as Twitter.com)
  • If your search query matches an alias, the alias will be shown in square brackets

So, for example, searching for ‘eggplant‘ or ‘aubergine‘ will return:

: :​eggplant: aubergine

And searching for ‘dog‘ (also an alias for ‘paw prints‘) will return:

: : feet: paw prints [dog]

Installation and Usage of IBus-UniEmoji in Linux

IBus-UniEmoji is still a small project and it seems to not have a .deb, snap, flatpak package, or even PPA for Ubuntu yet – but you can still install it by taking a few steps in your terminal:

  • Firstly, download the archive from GitHub and extract it
  • Open a new Terminal window and cd into the directory
  • Run sudo make install
  • Restart IBus using ibus restart

Secondly, add IBus-UniEmoji to your keyboard as an input source and assign a keyboard shortcut so that you can always easily switch between input methods like you would on a smartphone.

Take the following steps to add IBus-UniEmoji to your input source options:

  • Go to ‘System Settings’ – > ‘Region & Language
  • Under ‘Input Source’ click ‘Add
  • Click ‘Other’ and select UniEmoji (in the ‘Other‘ category) in the list that follows

Lastly, repeat the above steps except that your native language is what you will add as an input type this time around. This is so that you can switch between typing with your native language and IBus-UniEmoji without the emoji palette always appearing. (That can be annoying.)

Now, you can switch to and from IBus-UniEmoji and smartly enter emoji to your texts while you type. Truly nifty! You can find out more about IBus-UniEmoji‘s usage on its GitHub page.

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What do you think about IBus-UniEmoji? Have you used it before; or are you aware of an easier-to-use alternative? Let us know in the comments section below.

Divine Okoi is a cybersecurity postgrad with a passion for the open-source community. With 700+ articles covering different topics in IT, you can always trust him to inform you about the coolest tech.

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