Skip to Content

How do I change my default emoji skin tone on Android?

Having the ability to choose different emoji skin tones can allow you to better express yourself when using emojis. However, the default emoji skin tone is often set to yellow, which may not match your own skin tone. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to change the default emoji skin tone on Android devices.

What are emoji skin tones?

Emoji skin tones allow you to select an emoji that better represents your own skin color. Rather than being limited to the default yellow emoji, you can choose a light skin tone, medium skin tone, dark skin tone, or neutral yellow emoji. This allows for more diversity and representation when using emojis.

Skin tone options for emojis were first introduced in 2015. They were added to the Unicode emoji standard to provide more inclusive emojis that people of all skin tones could identify with. Major platforms like Android, iOS, Windows, Twitter, and Facebook have adopted support for diverse emoji skin tones.

Why change the default emoji skin tone?

There are a few key reasons you may want to change your emoji skin tone from the default yellow:

  • The yellow emoji skin tone does not represent your actual skin color.
  • You prefer using an emoji skin tone that matches your own skin tone when expressing yourself.
  • You want to show support for diversity and representation with your emoji choices.
  • You feel more personally connected to emojis that reflect your own identity.

Having the ability to choose an emoji skin tone that feels right to you allows for a more customized experience and can be empowering.

How to change default emoji skin tone on Android

The process for changing your default emoji skin tone will vary depending on your Android device and which version of Android you are running. Here are the general steps to follow:

  1. Open your device’s Settings app.
  2. Go to either General Management or System, depending on your Android version.
  3. Tap on Language and Input.
  4. Tap on On-screen Keyboard.
  5. Tap on the settings icon next to your keyboard app (Gboard, Samsung Keyboard, etc).
  6. Go to Preferences or Advanced settings.
  7. Look for Emoji Style or Emoji skin tone.
  8. Select your preferred default skin tone.

On some Samsung devices, the steps may be slightly different:

  1. Go to Settings > General Management.
  2. Tap Keyboard List and Default.
  3. Tap on Samsung Keyboard.
  4. Tap on Emoji settings.
  5. Select your preferred skin tone.

Once you have updated the setting, the chosen skin tone will be used by default when using emojis. Keep in mind you can still manually change the skin tone for individual emojis as you use them.

Customizing emoji skin tones in Gboard

If you use Gboard on your Android device, changing the default emoji skin tone is simple:

  1. In Gboard, go to Settings > Emoji > Default emoji skin tone.
  2. Select the skin tone you want to use by default.

In Gboard, you also have the option to make your emoji skin tone match your avatar. To enable this:

  1. Go to Gboard Settings > Your avatar.
  2. Create an avatar and select a skin tone.
  3. Toggle “Match emoji skin tone” on.

Once enabled, Gboard will automatically set your emoji skin tone to match what you selected for your avatar.

How to change emoji skin tones on a per-emoji basis

In addition to setting the default, you can still manually override the skin tone when using specific emojis. The process depends on your keyboard app:


  • Long press on an applicable emoji.
  • Select the desired skin tone from the pop-up menu.

Samsung Keyboard

  • Tap and hold an emoji that supports skin tones.
  • Select the skin tone from the options shown at the bottom.

Other keyboards

  • There may be an emoji skin tone option in the keyboard’s settings.
  • Or long press on an emoji and look for a skin tone selector.

The ability to customize each emoji gives you flexibility no matter what your default skin tone is set to.

Are all emojis available in different skin tones?

No, not every emoji has been updated to offer customizable skin tones. Only emojis that represent people or body parts allow for skin tone changes. For example:

  • 👋 Waving Hand
  • 🤷 Person Shrugging
  • 👩‍⚕️ Woman Health Worker
  • 👨‍🍳 Man Cook
  • 👩‍❤️‍👨 Couple With Heart

Other emojis like animals, food, objects, etc. do not have skin tone options.

The Unicode Consortium evaluates which emojis to update with skin tones based on expected usage levels and demand. So the list of customizable emojis continues to grow over time.

Troubleshooting tips

If you’re having trouble getting the emoji skin tone change working, here are some troubleshooting tips:

  • Make sure your keyboard app and Android OS are updated to the latest versions.
  • Try force quitting and relaunching your keyboard app if changes aren’t appearing.
  • On some devices, you may need to change region settings to an area that supports diverse emoji.
  • Check that your device manufacturer has enabled emoji skin tone options if they aren’t appearing.
  • Try switching to another keyboard app like Gboard if your current keyboard does not support skin tones.

Reaching out to your device manufacturer or keyboard app developer for assistance is recommended if you continue having difficulties changing emoji skin tones.


Using emoji skin tones can be a great way to add diversity and personal expression to your conversations. With just a few steps, Android users can easily configure their default emoji skin tone and customize the color on a per-emoji basis.

Remember that skin tone options are only available for certain emojis representing people and body parts. Look for the latest emoji skin tone updates from Google, Samsung, and other manufacturers to take advantage of more inclusive and customizable emojis.

With the power to represent yourself in emoji form, you can add your own personal flair to every text, tweet, and post.