Give WordPress Smilies a Face Lift: New Plugin Adds Emoticons to Self-Hosted Sites

Are you in love with the new smilies? Their modern look is a bit more expressive and endearing than the old emoticons. If you view them side-by-side, there is simply no comparison, especially when you zoom in:


Although there is a ticket open for updating WordPress core emoticons for self-hosted sites, there’s no telling when that might move forward. In the meantime, if you cannot wait to get the new smilies, Janneke Van Dorpe has created a plugin that adds them to self-hosted WordPress sites, essentially filtering the old ones to convert them to the set used on

The New Smileys plugin is hosted on github. If you view the code for the plugin, you can see the whole list of smilies included. It works in just the same way as the emoticons on

I tested the plugin and found no issues. All of the standard and secret emoticons work as advertised. Many thanks to Janneke Van Dorpe for putting it out there for others to use. If you frequently use emoticons within WordPress, adding this plugin will instantly give all your old smilies a face lift. There’s no need to wait for modern smilies to arrive in the WordPress core. Download the New Smileys plugin from github to get them now.


25 responses to “Give WordPress Smilies a Face Lift: New Plugin Adds Emoticons to Self-Hosted Sites”

    • I favour jetpack with bundle of other open source emoticons just like Chinese software “QQ Messenger.” :)

  1. Like Andy said, either core or Jetpack. I’d rather core though.

    It feels like the core team is pushing for new and shiny features like HTML galleries and stuff, but forgetting about things like these horrible gifs :)

  2. Out of curiosity, why can’t we just replace the actual files ourselves?

    The background for WPTavern is

    Jeff can upload (a photo of Matt Mullenweg), before uploading it he changes the file name to wood13.jpg then uploads it. Anyone that sees the site 1 second after the upload will see matt mullengweg’s face istead of the woodie background.

    • You can, but then you’re editing core. The images are in wp-includes. You’d never edit core. Right? RIGHT?

      (And you can just use a filter to move ’em and replace ’em wherever you want, which is what Grumpy Otto is doing.)

    • The ones in core are GIFs. The new ones are SVGs and require some CSS to get them to work. You can’t just overwrite the files and get them to work.

  3. Yep, there is absolutely no comparison. The older ones are far superior.

    I don’t understand the constant need for people to try to change the smilies. I like the existing ones. I hate the new ones. They’re too shiny and silly and stupid looking. They have no character. They have no sense of history or decorum. They have no class.

    Leave my smilies alone. I will fight to keep them.

    • Otto – I love your fierce loyalty to the old smilies. But doesn’t it bother you that they look all pixellated on retina displays?

      • Cant there be an option where Otto chooses his pixellated smilies and I can choose the new smilies for my own site? Just like we all choose plugins. Otto should be allowed to pick the old pixallated smilies pack if he wants to.

        I personally think ;-) and :-P should the combined into a new smiley (while keeping ;-) :-P ).

        • Surprised no one has said smilies should be ripped from core and put into a plugin lol. I don’t use the graphical smilies. So as long as they are not forced on me, you folks have fun :)

          • Jeff: Funnily enough, I said exactly that 5 years ago when they tried to use the Gnome smilies in 2.9:


            IMO, smilies don’t belong in core at all. They should be a plugin. But, given that they are in core, it’s a bit late to pull them now. But given the adversity to new options, I don’t expect that having multiple sets of them in core and an option to choose is a possible course of action..

            So, purely as a preventative measure in case the core devs decide to change the smilies, I’ve moved mine into a plugin to prevent any future breakage from occurring. Even if they change them, it no longer affects me directly:


          • Heh, Five years ago is when I wrote about that event happening a lot of people got upset over the change in smilies. So much so, they were reverted. It’s a bummer that now WordPress may never be able to part ways with smilies and result to plugins. Unless somehow, the current smiley pack can be put into a plugin and a WordPress update can remove the old ones and force WordPress to use the ones from a plugin.

            Sigh, add it to the technical debt I guess.

          • My vote goes for emoticons as a “jetpack module”. All of old, new and other open source emoticons should be bundled where a user can select their favourite one. I use “kaskus emoticons plugin” and it works in comments too. Kaskus has big enough library to use different emoticons in posts and comments. It’ll not work if you have turned on jetpack commenting system, only theme default comment system is acceptable. :)

      • No, it doesn’t bother me that they look pixelated on retina displays, because I don’t use retina displays. You darned Mac users need to stop trying to make everything so blamed shiny. Also, get off my lawn. ;)

        • But I bet you use a mobile device. Every major smartphone or tablet that’s shipped over the past couple of years has come with a HiDPI (or “Retina”) display. They aren’t just an Apple/Mac thing anymore. All of the big PC manufactures make laptops with “Retina” displays as well. *runs off your lawn*

  4. Note that Sarah Gooding enlarges (scales-up) non-scaling GIF emoticons, alongside designed-to-scale SVG (vector graphics) versions … and then shows the comparison-image, in JPG format.

    Why did she need 3 different image-formats, in order to defame the innocent old GIF emoticons? Because, dear reader, each of the different image formats is better than the others, in certain application & use contexts.

    In certain situations the supposedly-antiquated GIF images will easily beat the socks off their supposedly superior SVG versions, hands-down.

    The truth is, you can get more mileage out of each pixel, with a (hand-optimized) GIF. SVG doesn’t savvy pixels (or hand-tweaking) … and yeah-huh, there are contexts where pixel-ignorance looks as dumb as Sarah’s blown-out GIF emoticons.

    GIFs are good. SVGs are good. JPGs are good. And several more … all have their place.

  5. This is what, I wanted. Good plugin until core understands core problem. It seems this week is dedicated to emoticons on wptavern. ;) thanks Sarah, you always share good. :)

  6. I, for one, adore them almost as much as the Droid smileys, which I’d nearly walllpaper my house with. Thanks to Janneke for the plugin and you guys for posting about it. :-)


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