Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Dan Moren

Get Slack-style emoji everywhere with Rocket

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

If you spend as much time in Slack as I do1, you get used to some of that app’s idiosyncrasies. In particular, typing a colon followed by an emoji name has become second nature to me, especially because it’s often much faster than hunting for the same emoji in iOS or macOS’s character palettes.2

More than once, then, I’ve found myself starting to use the same syntax to summon an emoji in Messages or Mail on my Mac, only to be frustrated when I accidentally send :smiley: instead of, you know, 😃.


That is, until I stumbled across Matthew Palmer’s Rocket, which fills a void that I’ve been dreaming of: Slack-style emoji throughout macOS. The basic version of the app, which is free, lives in the menu bar and simply pops up a palette whenever you type a trigger character–by default, the colon. You can then start typing the name of an emoji, using Tab to auto-complete it, or the cursor keys and return to select a different item from the list. It also means not having to take your fingers off the keyboard in order to type emoji.

There are a few customization options in the basic Rocket, including the color of the pop-up palette, the trigger key, and default skin tone, and you can also disable it in specific apps or on specific websites.

For $5, you can also unlock a variety of Pro features, including full emoji search, the ability to send GIFs and stickers, and custom shortcuts for emoji and GIFs.

On the whole, I’m pretty pleased with Rocket. One feature, however, that I wish it had was the ability to have distinct trigger characters for emoji and GIFs. By default Rocket is set up not to work in Slack, so as not to collide with Slack’s own emoji key, but I’d love it if I could use “\” or something in order to still use Rocket to insert GIFs.

Other than that, though, Rocket definitely earns itself 👍👍.

  1. I’ve got a ridiculous eighteen that I’m a registered member of, though many of those are largely inactive. 
  2. That said, let’s be clear that Slack is way behind in the emoji game. Where’s my vampire? 

[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Mastodon at or reach him by email at His latest novel, the supernatural detective story All Souls Lost, is out now.]

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