I'm looking for a mouseless/mouse-free solution. And I want to use the whole Character Viewer-- not just certain characters.

I can open the Character Viewer with CTRL+CMD+SPACE, but it doesn't have focus, so it seems I have to use my mouse to select anything inside it.

How can I give that window keyboard focus without using my mouse?

And then how can I copy characters from that window without using my mouse?


The Character Viewer has two states, as seen below.

  1. The complex state, that needs to be clicked first and doesn't seem to allow keyboard-only activation:

enter image description here

  1. The simple state, that gets automatically activated when invoked and is a joy to work with using only the keyboard. Tab key is used to switch between emoji categories:

enter image description here

You can switch between the states by clicking the friendly but almost invisible icon in the top-right corner (don't know what it's called, doesn't have any tooltip).

Friendly but invisible icon

To summarize, click the friendly icon, activate the Character Viewer, stay with the keyboard.


You should be able to use the search field in the small version of Character Viewer. See one of the answers to this earlier question.

  • The search field can be used, however you need to reach for the mouse, and activate the Character Viewer first. Cmd+Tab/Cmd+` don't work. – Vlad Aug 1 '19 at 8:32
  • @Vlad I don't understand your comment. You can activate the Character Viewer via Control Command Space. No need to "reach for the mouse". – Tom Gewecke Aug 1 '19 at 15:46
  • At least on my Mojave install (10.14.6) the Character Viewer is displayed by default in its 'complex' state (for a lack of a better word - please see my answer for pics). In this complex state it has to be clicked before you can use the keyboard on it. – Vlad Aug 2 '19 at 7:25

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