How to Disable WordPress Emoticons

WordPress keeps improving with new features in each new edition. Some of these new features are so subtle that you might have overlooked them. In version 4.2, for example, WordPress adds a set of new Emojis which you could use to make your post more fun and expressive.

To display these Emoji, WordPress loads a script, wp-emoji-release.min.js, behind the scenes. However, if you find that you do not use Emoji much, there is not point on loading this script, and you might want to consider removing this feature. Here are two ways you can do so.

Method #1: Using WordPress Hook

Assuming you have access to your WordPress theme folder, you can add a few lines to prevent the script from generating on the frontend.

  1. Navigate to your WordPress theme folder, and open the functions.php file.

  2. Add the following lines within the file.

    remove_action('wp_head', 'print_emoji_detection_script', 7);
    remove_action('wp_print_styles', 'print_emoji_styles');
  3. Save the file and reload the homepage or (any page) of your site. These lines should remove the script as well as the styles required to display the Emoji all together.

Method #2: Using WordPress Plugin

If you are reluctant to edit the functions.php, you can install a plugin instead.

  1. In WordPress Administration, navigate through the Plugin > Add New menu.

  2. Search for: “Disable Emojis“. The plugin is developed by Ryan Hellyer.

    The Disable Emojis plugin
  3. Install and activate the plugin.

The plugin does not offer settings nor options; it works out-of-the-box and the Emoji should now be completely disabled. Using this plugin, the disabled Emoji will still be retained even with a theme change.

You can also deploy the plugin as a must-use plugin which prevents it from being deactivated, and which will affect all the network on your site.

If you had added WordPress classic emojis in one or more of your old posts, disabling Emojis will leave the :-) in plain text. If you like the old ways better, install Classic Smilies plugin by Samuel Wood (Otto). This plugin, not only disables the new Emoji, but will also bring back the old icons to be at your disposal.

WordPress old smilies

That’s it. Hopefully you find this tip useful.