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Show emoticons in instant messages

Show emoticons in instant messages

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Registry locations


Allowed registry values

·         0 – Emoticons are sent as text

·         1 – Emoticons are sent as graphics

Registry value type


Default setting

1: Emoticons are shown in instant messages


Where would the world be without emoticons? Back in the dark ages of computing, the only way to add a "smiley face" to an instant message would be to use the typewritten equivalent, like so:




Thank goodness that’s no longer the case, at least not with Microsoft Lync. Instead, with Microsoft Lync you can add a real smiley face to your instant messages:



Progress is truly a wonderful thing, isn’t it?


Historical note. The first known use of the classic smiley face emoticon: :-)? That dates all the way back to 1982 and the computer science department at Carnegie Mellon University. (As if anyone other than a computer science major at Carnegie Mellon University could have come up with the smiley face emoticon.)


In Microsoft Lync you can enable the use of emoticons by checking the Show emoticons in instant messages checkbox:



Once you do that, you can then insert any Lync emoticon into your instant messages and have that emoticon be sent as a graphic. Likewise, you can type an emoticon character equivalent and Lync will automatically convert that typewritten value to a graphic. For example, suppose you type the following into an instant message:




Do that, and Lync will convert that text to the following emoticon when the message is sent:



Note. In case you’re wondering, the preceding emoticon is officially known as the “nerd smiley.”


As if that wasn’t cool enough, this conversion also takes place for any emoticons (or their text equivalents) that get sent to you. For example, suppose someone types 8-| in an instant message sent to you. When you receive that message, Lync will automatically show you – that’s right, the beloved nerd smiley:



This really is a wonderful age in which to be alive, isn't it?


Of course, it’s always possible that you’d rather not use emoticons in your instant messages. (Killjoy.) In that case, all you have to do is clear the Show emoticons in instant messages checkbox in the Options dialog box. Do that, and Lync will no longer convert typed characters to their emoticon equivalents.


And yes, in some ways that does take all the fun out of instant messaging. But in some organizations, fun might not be the overriding concern when it comes to sending and receiving instant messages.


Go figure.


And before you ask, yes, you can use Windows PowerShell to manage the use of emoticons; that's done by manipulating the registry value HKCU\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Communicator\ShowEmoticons. For example, the following PowerShell script retrieves the current value of ShowEmoticons from the local computer. If you'd prefer to retrieve this value from a remote computer, simply set the value of the variable $computer to the name of that remote computer. For example:


$computer = ""


Here's the script we were just talking about:


$computer = "."


$registry = [Microsoft.Win32.RegistryKey]::OpenRemoteBaseKey("CurrentUser", $computer)

$key = $registry.OpenSubKey("SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Communicator", $True)


$value =$key.GetValue("ShowEmoticons",$null)

if ($value -eq 1) {$value = "Yes"}

if ($value -eq 0) {$value = "No"}

Write-Host "Show emoticons: $value"


You can also use a script to set the value of ShowEmoticons. In the code we're about to show you, the script enables the use of emoticons in instant messages; that's done by setting ShowEmoticons to 1. To disable the use of emoticons, set ShowEmoticons to 0:




You know, like this:


$computer = "."


$registry = [Microsoft.Win32.RegistryKey]::OpenRemoteBaseKey("CurrentUser", $computer)

$key = $registry.OpenSubKey("SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Communicator", $True)




One thing to keep in mind here is that there is also a client policy setting (DisableEmoticons) that can be used to regulate the use of emoticons in instant messages. If DisableEmoticons is set to anything other than a null value ($null) then users will not be able to use emoticons in their instant messages, and they won't be able to change that setting:



And yes, oddly enough, it doesn't matter whether you set DisableEmoticons to True or to False; anything other than a null value will disable the use of emoticons in instant messages.


That's what we said: go figure.




  • A lot of nice information but nothing about how to import emoticons (add to your emoticon pallet)

  • the registry modification solutions works fine. For me now emoticons are not shown as text after I changed the value to 1

  • enable/disable is working fine. The question is how to add or import emoticons?

  • I would like to add or import emoticons.  Please provide some information on how to do that.


  • I want more emoticons!

  • is there any short cut key to enable emoticons if the DisableEmoticons is set to anything other than NULL?

  • I have lync 13, I want my nerdy emoticon back. tried turning of emoticons and typing the text 8-|. it doesn't work

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