How to Create, Customize, and Use Memoji in Apple’s iOS



While Apple strives to make its mobile devices useful, it has been known to mix in a zany streak to supercharge interest in the latest OS. In recent years, the Animoji and Memoji features have fueled that trend.

Animoji object icons use animals, skulls, ghosts, and poop, among others as primary motifs. Memoji — derived from the word “me” — extends Animoji features to avatars that you can create to resemble you or someone you know, kind of like Bitmoji. With Animoji and Memoji, you control what your friends and contacts see when they connect with you.

Animoji started with the iPhone X, but it initially worked only on iPhone models with TrueDepth cameras that could mimic your facial expressions and head movements. That’s because it uses your device’s Face ID to facilitate the creation and recording of animated messages that look like you. This works only on an iPad Pro 11-inch or iPad Pro 12.9-inch third-generation or newer models. Sensors on the front of your device let you manipulate Animoji by altering your expression, smiling, frowning, scowling, sticking out your tongue, or turning your head. Memoji and Animoji are most often used in Messages as stickers or videos, with FaceTime calls, and in third-party apps and messengers.

Although this could be a bummer for people who hang on to older handsets, since iOS 13, and continuing with iOS 14, even if you have an older device, you too can create your very own Memoji.

With the last two generations of iOS, Memoji are available on older iPhones that don’t have advanced cameras by automatically generating Memoji Sticker packs that anyone can use. Memoji stickers also work with Animoji so that all Memoji and Animoji get sticker packs in iOS 13 and later. Even though these Memoji are static, there are 24 varieties in the pack that let you select the specific emotion you want to express, and there are customization options aplenty. Here’s how to create your very own Memoji.

How to create a Memoji

Creating your own Memoji is easy and fun. You can make a Memoji look just like you, or how you wish to look. You can create Memoji of your friends. Here’s how to get started.

  • Open the Messages app on your iPhone or iPad.
  • Tap the New Message icon at the top right of the screen.
  • If you don’t see the app drawer below the message bar, tap the App Store icon to reveal the app tray.
  • Select the three-headed Stickers icon.
  • You will see various Animoji to choose from, but tap the More icon on the left-hand side and then tap New Memoji to get a blank Memoji canvas.
  • On the first panel, Skin, get started with attributes like Skin ToneFrecklesCheeks, and Beauty Spot details. Just choose what you want. You don’t have to use everything.
  • You can then move to the next panels, where you can select from an array of hairstyles, brow styles, eye shapes and colors, head shapes and age, nose, mouth, jewelry, and more.
  • Once you get to the Ears section, you’ll be able to rock those AirPods.

How to edit a Memoji

A Memoji is not set in pixel stone. So don’t stress if you really want to change your complexion to blue or your hair to purple with gray highlights. You can easily update the Memoji you already have.

  • Launch the Messages app.
  • Tap the New Message icon in the top right corner.
  • If the app tray is hidden, tap the App Store icon.
  • Scroll sideways to the right and select your Memoji icon.
  • Tap the More icon to see a menu letting you update your existing Memoji or create a new one.
  • Tap Edit and scroll through the different options to change your persona to whatever you want to be.

Also, you can use the same screen to delete your Memoji, if you’re getting tired of it. Simply go to Messages > New Message > Memoji > More, before tapping Delete.

How to use your Memoji on an iPhone with a TrueDepth camera

Creating Memoji can be a finicky experience. So the first thing to remember is to have plenty of light available as you work.

  • To use your Memoji, open the App Drawer while in the iMessage window and select the Memoji icon.
  • Swipe through to find your Memoji. Since your Memoji mirrors your muscle movements, you will want to ensure your face is in view of the camera.
  • Once you’re ready, tap the record button located in the lower left-hand corner. You can record for up to 30 seconds. You can use the record button to stop the recording or just wait for the recording to reach the 30-second limit and it will stop automatically.
  • After your recording is complete, you can then watch it playback one time or choose to watch it again by tapping on Replay above your Memoji.
  • If you are not satisfied with the result, just use the garbage icon, erase the recording and start again.
  • To send your recording, simply tap the blue arrow and the recipient can play it from their iMessage window after it’s delivered. You can also choose to replay it by tapping on it in the message window.
  • You can insert your Memoji into your pictures with iMessage’s camera. Open your front-facing camera and you can place your Memoji over your head, take the picture, and send it.
  • FaceTime also supports this feature. When you are talking over video, you’ll see a choice to add a Memoji on your live video.

How to use your Memoji without the TrueDepth camera

Once you create your Memoji, you are able to access it using any apps that support emoji. You can even use it as a photo in your Contacts. Apps like Messages,  Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Snapchat, Mail, Notes, and Reminders all let you use your custom Memoji stickers.

  • Get your message, email, or note ready.
  • Swipe right to see the Memoji you use most frequently.
  • You can also hit the three-dot symbol to see all your Memoji stickers and pick the new one you’d like to use.

Troubleshooting creation of Memoji and Animoji

Sometimes consumer tech just does not work the way you expect it to or as promised. If you are having trouble getting your Memoji to respond to your facial movements, try the following.

  • Get better lighting. For the head tracking and expression alignment to work, the more light, the better. If your Memoji falters or freezes when you’re trying to record, it may be a result of holding the camera too close, or the environment is too dark.
  • The app outlines the right spot for your face via a yellow bounding box for the head and expression tracking, so try to keep your face inside that box.
  • Hold steady as you record so that the TrueDepth camera can see you for the entire recording interval.
  • Don’t hold your iPhone too close to your face, but more or less at arm’s length.
  • Hold your iPhone straight with the front camera level with your eyes.
  • Your device should not be running hot, and there should be no processor-intensive sequences running in the background.
  • If you aren’t able to send Memoji snaps under iMessages, then go to Settings > Accessibility > Speech and toggle off Speak Screen.

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