I wanted to check if it's possible to use emoji in a password for my Account on OS Yosemite. It worked but I didn't realize that the login screen has only native keyboards, so I can't type emoji there.

So the situation is that I know my password but I can't type it. The machine has rebooted to the Recovery HD and I don't see a way to enable the emoji keyboard there. In effect, since FileVault was turned on, I can't restore the password easily.

I see three possible options here, but would be happy to hear anything else:

  1. Find a way to type emoji in the password field, this would be ideal.
  2. Access my Account from external machine that will allow me to type my password from there so I can type emoji (not sure there such a thing)
  3. Restore the password even though I used FileVault.
  • 3
    As another option, you might be able to either use "escaped unicode" (look it up) or connect the internal drive on another mac and unlock it there. – John Keates Aug 27 '15 at 1:49
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    Would the Apple Store be able to help you with this? I know the average tech won't know how to help, but perhaps they can escalate this issue to someone who might know. – Thunderforge Aug 27 '15 at 3:40
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    Could you not VNC into the machine and use your phone to type the password? – ʰᵈˑ Aug 27 '15 at 8:44
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    Does Single User Mode work? Boot the computer and as soon as your hear the boot chime (don't mute your volume before shutting down) press Cmd+S. If the screen turns black and you get a console, then reply yes. I ask because there is a way to force reset a password (kinda insecure if a hacker has physical access to your computer) with SUM as long as you did NOT set a firmware password. However, I don't have FileVault enabled and I didn't want to post an answer that can't be applied. – Arc676 Aug 27 '15 at 9:43
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    This is definitely a Mac bug: allowing you to set a password but not allowing you to enter it. – jvriesem Aug 27 '15 at 13:20

If you have "Other Input Sources" available at the top right of your login screen, select the one called Unicode Hex Input. This can be used to input emoji (or any other character) into the password field, as long as you know the Unicode Hex number of the character. This number can be found in the Character Viewer or on the internet.

Some items you find in the "emoji" category have Unicode hex numbers with just 4 characters, such as Airplane U+2708 ✈. With the Unicode Hex Input keyboard, you input this by holding down the Option key while you type 2708.

Other emoji have Unicode hex numbers with 5 characters, such as Grinning Face U+1F600 😀. For these you need to find the two corresponding UTF-16 Hex codes (sometimes called "surrogates") by consulting Character Viewer or using an internet source like fileformat.info. For 1F600 these are D83D and DE00. You can input 1F600 by holding down the option key while typing D83DDE00. You may see two dots in the field, but it is still just one character.

  • I can confirm if you do have it you can change to the Unicode Hex input and type a them. But if you do not have any users logged in already, you will not have the input available at the top of the login screen. So is there a way of getting it there if it is missing. – markhunte Aug 28 '15 at 16:49
  • 28
    This is the best way for solving my problem. I tried to use Hex Code keyboard layout to insert the emoji together with the guy from Apple Support. We tried to use the U+1F600 -like format though, so it was typing a different special character and not the emoji. Both of us didn't know that we have to use UTF-16 Hex code. Thanks Tom! 😊👍 – Artiom Dashisnky Aug 28 '15 at 18:44
up vote 64 down vote accepted

I solved it by the solution Apple Support suggested to do, here are the steps I did:

  1. Install OS X on an external drive from Recovery mode (Cmd + R while starting).
  2. Boot from the external drive.
  3. Install the Hex/Emoji keyboard to be able to type the relevant character.
  4. Go to Disk Utility, choose the locked disk. Go to File -> Turn Off Encryption.
  5. Enter your password here and leave it for couple of hours, since the decryption is going to take a while and there is no indication of progress.

    Disk decryption in progress

  6. Restart in Recovery mode again. Go to terminal and run resetpassword.

  7. Choose your disk and create a new password for your user.
  8. Restart and use your brand new password to login.
  • When you say "Hex/Emoji keyboard", are you talking about the keyboard called "Unicode Hex" or about the Character Viewer (or Emoji & Symbols in some menus)? – Tom Gewecke Aug 28 '15 at 9:54
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    Specifically for my problem I installed custom keyboard that I built and used to type the original password (you can download them here if you're interested emojikey.xyz/pages/install). – Artiom Dashisnky Aug 28 '15 at 10:02
  • Thanks for that info! Nothing "hex" about those. Did you ever actually try the Apple Unicode Hex Input keyboard to input your emoji at the login screen? – Tom Gewecke Aug 28 '15 at 10:13
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    I've had no trouble typing emoji with it as a login password. I wonder if the advisor knew that you can't just type 5 codes after option, you have to look up the two components and type them separately. For example, smiley emoji 1f600 gets typed as d83d followed by de00. – Tom Gewecke Aug 28 '15 at 10:40
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    It is called the "utf-16 hex" format. You can find it in the Character Viewer or on the web, e.g. fileformat.info/info/unicode/char/1f600/index.htm – Tom Gewecke Aug 28 '15 at 11:26

Since you have Filevault - that makes your situation precarious and a bit delicate.

Some good news, Apple has disabled emoji entry in the password pane for 10.11 El Capitan - I can't paste or get emoji in the Users & Groups preference pane.

Apple's official manner to get past this is to click the ? in the password field and reset your password. If you used a recovery key - you can enter it without needing emoji keys. If you used AppleID, you can enter that without needing emoji.

file vault unlock

Barring that, If you have a current backup (or can let things complete if you are logged in), the fastest way froward is to wipe the Mac and then restore the backup. You can choose a new password for a new admin account and then import the user files.

If you have ssh enabled, or remote desktop enabled, and the Mac is still logged in to your account, you could log in to the Mac from another Mac over the network. This will not work if you have rebooted the Mac and Recovery HD boot is waiting at the Filevault unlock screen.

If you have a second admin account that is FileVault enabled, you could reboot and use that password to unlock the disk and then reset the password on your main account. Lastly, you could boot to recovery HD or internet recovery and reinstall the OS to a USB drive. Then you can mount the file vault drive and have emoji to unlock the volume and make a new admin account through various tricks / procedures similar to using single user mode to remove the .AppleSetupDone file.

  • 2
    Unfortunately all of these options are irrelevant since I'm logged out of the system. Apparently I didn't realize what FileVault is when I enabled it, so I don't really remember what I defined there :( – Artiom Dashisnky Aug 27 '15 at 10:44
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    @ArtiomDashisnky yes - the best option is this one - Boot to recovery and install OS X onto an external USB drive/device. From there you can get to the drive, unlock it and remove one file /var/db/.AppleSetupDone which will then let you make a new admin account with a password you can type. Then you can change the main password with the new admin account. You might have to remove file vault entirely - I'm not sure you can grant the second admin unlock privs this way. – bmike Aug 27 '15 at 13:54
  • @bmike That won't work with FileVault, since it's encrypted--the new account would lack the necessary information to decrypt the drive. He's have to actually reset the password from the secondary OS installation, which would be difficult because he'd also need to re-encrypt the keys used to decrypt the drive (with his new password). – Zenexer Aug 27 '15 at 17:00
  • @Zenexer I'll probably work through the exact steps later today if there's interest and update my answer. I've done it before without using the recovery key - once you have an OS running and the core storage volume - you can enter the correct password. The OP knows the password - it's just using characters the default boot keyboard doesn't allow entry. – bmike Aug 27 '15 at 17:25
  • @bmike Right, the trick is you need to actually enter the existing password somewhere. Resetting the password outright without entering the existing password would likely ruin his chances of recovering anything. – Zenexer Aug 27 '15 at 17:43

Adding to bmike's answer, if you can't do any of that, and don't have a recent backup, you might try connecting the disk to another computer, and mounting the volume to save your files. You can apparently do it with both mac, windows and linux.

  • Thanks, that's the option I'm trying to process with now, since I know my password I'm trying to install Mac OS on an external drive and access my data from there. I believe I will have an option to type an emoji there. – Artiom Dashisnky Aug 27 '15 at 10:47
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    Yes - this is the best option since you can reinstall a new OS on to an external drive without needing emoji. Alternatively place the Mac in Target Disk mode and expose the Core Storage volume to another Mac is equivalent, but takes another CPU. – bmike Aug 27 '15 at 13:51

You could use ssh, telnet, vnc/rdp, Back To My Mac or similar methods, provided they are enabled and/or available.

Also you could login using the default guest account or any regular user account, if available. Then:

Execute the CLI Terminal.app; type passwd <username>; enter ⎆/return ⏎; (where <username> is the name of the account you're locked out of..)

You will be prompted to enter your problematic password. Hitting ++space will open a unicode tool to assist you with entering the emoji character(s).

If successful you will be granted the opportunity to enter a new password. Type the new password a second time (to verify) and that ought to do the trick.

  • 1
    "...provided they are enabled and/or available." – tjt263 Aug 27 '15 at 16:22
  • Besides, the question was re: user account login credentials, not firmware passwords or hard-disk encryption keys. – tjt263 Aug 27 '15 at 16:37

This is to go with @TomGewecke answer.

If you are seeing the input menu at the top right hand corner of the login screen.

This may only be because their is another user logged in. ( Fast user Switching).

If there is a user already logged in, the input menu will always show even if no users have it enabled to show in their menu bar.

But if there are no users already logged in then you will not get the menu, unless you have enabled the input menu to show in the login window before.

If you want the keyboard layout (input menu ) to show at the login window regardless of if there are other users logged in or not with fast user switching. Using an Admin account :

  • Go to System preferences -> Users & Groups.
  • SelectLogin Options.
  • Check Show Input menu in login window.

enter image description here

  • Then when at thelogin window:

click the Input menu (shows the name of the currently selected input source next to a keyboard icon) in the upper-right corner of the screen, then select the desired input source or keyboard layout. If you don't see the input source you are looking for, move the pointer over Other Input Sources, then select the input source from the complete list that appears.

Apple doc

(not originally I did not see the Unicode Hex input. As I was doing this from ScreenSharing and the Unicode Hex input was at the bottom, but of my screen. So I missed it the first time )

Even if you're locked out, you should still have access to the Accessibility Settings part of your System Preferences, in which case you can proceed to Keyboard Preferences and adjust your peripheral input sources. This means you can add/enable "Unicode Hex Input". Plus, checking "☑︎ Show Input menu in menu bar" will allow you to "⌨ Show Character Viewer" and inject a variety of Unicode & Emoji characters.

  • 1
    How is that supposed to work? You can open the accessibility panel with Fn + Option + Command + F5, but it's stripped down and doesn't let you access anything useful. You can't access System Preferences. – Zenexer Aug 27 '15 at 17:14
  • The OP made a comment where he said he tried the Unicode Hex input, but failed. So he doesn't have to add it. It should work according to my own tests, if you know how to use it correctly. – Tom Gewecke Aug 27 '15 at 18:45
  • I didn't read every comment in the thread tbh. I was just addressing the original question. Regardless, I'm sure i tried to make it applicable/relevant to as many people as possible. Hopefully it helps somebody. – tjt263 Aug 28 '15 at 1:19
  • It doesn't help anyone if like Zenexer says you cannot in fact access system prefs/keyboard/input sources. Is he correct? – Tom Gewecke Aug 28 '15 at 1:52

I am not a Mac user so this may be nonsense. However since the situation is desperate, I'll offer it anyway.

Unicode Hex Input

You can use the utility in OS X to generate many Unicode characters by manually inputting the hexadecimal code. Other options include saving word processor files as Unicode or UTF text.

  1. Make sure you have activated the Unicode Hex Input keyboard. See the activate keyboards section for more details.

  2. Open an application which supports Unicode HexInput such as TextEdit. TextEdit is installed with OS X and can be opened from the Dock or the Applications folder.

  3. Switch keyboards to the Unicode Hex Input from the flag icon dropdown menu on the upper right. If the Unicode Hex Option is grayed out, then you are in an application which does not support this utility. Note: Most current applications support this keyboard, but some old versions of software may not.

  4. To input a specific character, hold down the option key, then type in the four-digit hexadecimal Unicode value (e.g. 044D = Cyrillic э). Charts listing Unicode values for different scripts are available at www.unicode.org/charts.

http://symbolcodes.tlt.psu.edu/keyboards/mackey.html#unihex

  • 1
    It's not total nonsense, just irrelevant to be talking about opening apps when the question is about how to input something into the login screen. – Tom Gewecke Aug 27 '15 at 15:09
  • This would be great for a situation where the OS was running, but in that case, the simple answer is use the Emoji keyboard. – bmike Aug 27 '15 at 16:14
  • @bmike I have tested making and logging into test accounts with emoji in the password using the Unicode Hex keyboard. It worked fine. I am wondering if the OP just didn't use the keyboard correctly. – Tom Gewecke Aug 27 '15 at 18:42
  • @TomGewecke I'll ask a follow on question for you to answer if you can figure out how to enter emoji at the FileVault unlock screen. That would be gold / bounty material. – bmike Aug 27 '15 at 21:54

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