When Apple unveiled its iPhone X back in 2017, one of the most popular features was Animoji, which lets you create cute animated videos of various animals and creatures and send them to your friends.

If you've seen a spate of tweets as people share Animoji recordings of their kids, such as this one below, you might be thinking you want in on the action. We'll show you how below!

The iPhones X, XR, XS, XS Max, 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Mac use the TrueDepth camera system to record the Animoji, mimicking your facial expression and the movement of your head to create an audio message in the guise of that character. (The TrueDepth camera is also used for Face ID facial recognition.)

Animoji are animated emojis that mimic your facial expression, and in this article we explain everything you need to know about using them. Animoji has since evolved into Memoji, which are characters that you can design to look just like you, these can be used in a similar way to Animoji. We have an article about creating your Memoji here.

How to record an Animoji

If you've got an iPhone with a Face ID camera, that's an X, XR, XS, XS Max, 11, 11 Pro or 11 Pro Mac, all you need to record an Animoji is a face and the Messages app.

  1. Open Messages.
  2. Add the recipient details in the To field.
  3. Tap the icon for Apps (the A beside the text input bar).
  4. Choose the monkey icon from the collection of icons at the bottom of the screen.
  5. Scroll through the Animoji options on the left until you find one you like, or select New Memoji on the left to create your own custom Memoji. To see more of the Animoji options in one go you can swipe up from just above the bottom of the page. Animnoji ios 13
  6. Hold up the phone and look straight at it. If your face isn't in view you will see a yellow box. Position your phone so your face is in line with the box. 
  7. Notice how the character mirrors the movement of your head, mouth and face.
  8. To record your message (with audio) tap the red button.
  9. You can record for up to 30 seconds. (If you want to record a longer message you'll need to stitch a number of clips together in an app such as iMovie.) Record amimoji iphone
  10. Press the red square to stop the recording; if you hit the time limit it will stop automatically.
  11. You can play back the recording before you send it. If you don't like what you record you can delete it by tapping the trash icon.
  12. To listen to the recording again, tap Replay. 
  13. If you want to see how your recording looks with another Animoji, just select one and the recording will replay with that Animoji. You can also switch to a different Animoji character by swiping sideways on the recording. Animoji
  14. Once you're ready to send tap on the up arrow or just tap on the Animoji.
  15. When you play back an Animoji before sending to check it's okay, the audio plays too. But once it's been sent and it sits in the message thread, audio is turned off by default for both you and the recipient. (It's safely recorded, it just doesn't play.) To turn on the audio, tap the speaker icon.

How to save an Animoji

Creating Animoji videos can be a lot of fun, but what if you don't want to inundate your friends with your attempts at comedy. It's frustrating that because they are situated inside the Messages app, the only obvious thing to do once you have created an Animoji is to send one to your friend as a message.

Luckily you can use your Animoji in other ways, you just need to save them to Photos first... We'll explain how to do that now.

  1. Before you create your Animoji start a text message conversation with yourself. In the To: field start typing your mobile number (or the email address you set up for iMessage).
  2. Create your Animoji as per the instructions above.
  3. Send the Animoji to yourself.
  4. Now find the Animoji in your Message thread and press on the Animoji until you see options to Copy and Save.
  5. Tap on Save.
  6. Now open the Photos app and you will see your Animoji video.

You can now share your Animoji video to a social network such as Facebook or to YouTube. Or you can just keep it to laugh at in your own time.

How to share Animoji on social media

You can share an Animoji as video on any social network. Here's how:

  1. You need to create your Animoji in the same way as above, and save it to your Photo library.
  2. Open the Animoji video in Photos. 
  3. Tap on the share icon.
  4. Scroll through the various sharing options until you find the one for your social network of choice.
  5. Tap on that icon and choose Post to post a video of that Animoji.

How to send an Animoji sticker

You don't have to send an animated recording. You can just send an Animoji sticker - essentially a still photo of you as an Animoji.

  1. As above, open Messages and add the recipient details in the To field.
  2. Tap the icon for Apps (the A beside the text input bar) and choose the monkey icon.
  3. Choose an Animoji/Memoji.
  4. Look at the iPhone and pose.
  5. Touch the Animoji until it appears in the message field above. Animoji sticker
  6. Hold the Animoji and drag it up into the message field.
  7. This will automatically send the Animoji sticker to the recipient.

How to use Animoji on iPhone 8 or earlier

Prior to iOS 13, the iPhone 8 and earlier missed out on Animoji, but with the latest update to the operating system on iPhones more iPhones gain access to Animoji and Memoji. Although those iPhone users won't be able to create the animations they can use Animoji stickers, which are like emoji.

In fact these Animoji and Memoji stickers are available anywhere you can use emoji. So, if you are bored of little yellow faces, you can switch to sharks with hearts for eyes, or a poo with an exploding head if that's more your sort of thing.

Snark and Poo

How to make Animoji videos on iPhone 8 or earlier

It's nice that Apple's given older phones the ability to have some fun with Animoji, but let's face it, you won't be recording a rendition of Queen's Bohemiam Rhapsody on one of these older phones (check out this video though, it's great).

Officially, Animoji is supported only by iPhone with a TrueDepth camera, that's the camera required for Face ID. Apple says Animoji use the IR and depth sensor of the X-series iPhones for better accuracy, and wouldn't work as well on another iPhone.

So, if you don't have the necessary camera on your phone it can't copy your facial expressions to generate an Animoji movie.

You, therefore, cannot record Animoji on an iPhone 8 or earlier, but you can replicate the effect with an Animoji alternative (we look at a few here) or you can fake it by searching for Animoji that have been created by others.

Find and share a pre-made Animoji

You could send an Animoji from your iPhone by using the images search in Messages and getting hold of a GIF.

  1. On your iPhone open Messages.
  2. Tap on the A icon.
  3. Tap on the images icon (a red icon with a magnifying glass).
  4. In the Find Images search field, type Animoji. Animoji gifs
  5. Choose an Animoji GIF.
  6. Send as normal by tapping on the blue arrow.

You can read more about how to send a GIF from your iPhone if you're unsure of how to do that, and you can find out more about using Messages in our complete guide to texting on the iPhone.