How to choose separate skin tones for each hand

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Follow along with this tutorial to learn how to use the customizable handshake emoji on iPhone, iPad and Mac to choose skin tones for each hand separately from one another, allowing a single emoji to cover all possible combinations of hand colors.

The handshake emoji, now with 25 skin tone combinations

Apple regularly adds new emoji characters to the iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV to keep up with the official list maintained by the Unicode Consortium, the organization that actually designs and distributes emoji. With iOS 15.4, iPadOS 15.4 and macOS Monterey 12.3, Apple has added new Emoji 14.0 characters, including faces, hand gestures, household objects and as many as 25 skin tone combinations for the handshake emoji.

A featured image showcasing the possible skin tone combinations for the left and right hand of the handshake emoji in iOS 15.4, iPadOS 15.4 and macOS Monterey 12.3
An iOS device screenshot showing setting skin tone separately for each hand of the handshake emoji in Apple Messages on iPhone
A macOS device screenshot showing setting skin tone separately for each hand of the handshake emoji in Apple Mail for Mac

Choosing separate skin tones for each hand of the handshake emoji is supported on:

The new two-tone handshake emoji replaces the one-tone handshake.https://1fd843ad1a0f6ee0d72861afca4ea821.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Not only that, but an updated emoji chooser splits up the right hand and the left hand so that you can quickly choose separate skin tones for each hand. There are five skin tones available per hand, yielding a total of 25 combinations for the handshake emoji that you can choose from. Additionally, the iOS 15.4 update contains ten non-standard handshake emoji combinations where one of the hands does not feature a skin tone modifier, according to Emojipedia.

Handshake emoji: How to set skin tones combinations

If you’ve ever played with the options for the “Couple with Heart” emoji, you’ll know what to do: Simply press and hold the Handshake emoji in the emoji chooser on your iPhone, iPad or Mac to set skin tone separately for the left and the right hand.

If you’re a heavy emoji user, this mechanism should feel familiar to you as it was first used for the “People Holding Hands” emoji in 2019. Apple has reused the same interface for the various kiss characters and “Couple with Heart” options.

While you can use emoji on your Apple Watch, including the handshake emoji, choosing separate skin tones for each hand is currently not supported in watchOS.

When you should use skin emoji tone options

There are no hard rules in terms of using emoji. The various smileys and other colorful characters that spice up online messaging have had a tremendous cultural impact across the globe. People use these to express their feelings in a more illustrative manner than pure text allows. If you’re going to be using emoji, do it right.

In case of the handshake emoji, doing it right means choosing skin tones that correspond to whatever is being discussed. More than political correctness, this is about being respectful of other people’s origins and skin color. And with iOS 15.4’s new mechanism for quickly setting the color of each hand, your handshake emoji will always be perfectly suited for any discussions you may be having with friends.

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