An object that manages an ordered collection of data items and presents them using customizable layouts.


@interface UICollectionView : UIScrollView


Figure 1

A collection view using the flow layout

A collection view using the flow layout

When adding a collection view to your user interface, your app’s main job is to manage the data associated with that collection view. The collection view gets its data from the data source object, which is an object that conforms to the UICollectionViewDataSource Protocol and is provided by your app. Data in the collection view is organized into individual items, which can then be grouped into sections for presentation. An item is the smallest unit of data you want to present. For example, in a photos app, an item might be a single image. The collection view presents items onscreen using a cell, which is an instance of the UICollectionViewCell class that your data source configures and provides.

In addition to its cells, a collection view can present data using other types of views too. These supplementary views can be things like section headers and footers that are separate from the individual cells but still convey some sort of information. Support for supplementary views is optional and defined by the collection view’s layout object, which is also responsible for defining the placement of those views.

Besides embedding it in your user interface, you use the methods of UICollectionView object to ensure that the visual presentation of items matches the order in your data source object. Thus, whenever you add, delete, or rearrange data in your collection, you use the methods of this class to insert, delete, and rearrange the corresponding cells. You also use the collection view object to manage the selected items, although for this behavior the collection view works with its associated delegate object.

Collection Views and Layout Objects

A very important object associated with a collection view is the layout object, which is a subclass of the UICollectionViewLayout class. The layout object is responsible for defining the organization and location of all cells and supplementary views inside the collection view. Although it defines their locations, the layout object does not actually apply that information to the corresponding views. Because the creation of cells and supplementary views involves coordination between the collection view and your data source object, the collection view actually applies layout information to the views. Thus, in a sense, the layout object is like another data source, only providing visual information instead of item data.

You normally specify a layout object when creating a collection view but you can also change the layout of a collection view dynamically. The layout object is stored in the collectionViewLayout property. Setting this property directly updates the layout immediately, without animating the changes. If you want to animate the changes, you must call the setCollectionViewLayout:animated:completion: method instead.

If you want to create an interactive transition—one that is driven by a gesture recognizer or touch events—use the startInteractiveTransitionToCollectionViewLayout:completion: method to change the layout object. That method installs an intermediate layout object whose purpose is to work with your gesture recognizer or event-handling code to track the transition progress. When your event-handling code determines that the transition is finished, it calls the finishInteractiveTransition or cancelInteractiveTransition method to remove the intermediate layout object and install the intended target layout object.

Creating Cells and Supplementary Views

The collection view’s data source object provides both the content for items and the views used to present that content. When the collection view first loads its content, it asks its data source to provide a view for each visible item. To simplify the creation process for your code, the collection view requires that you always dequeue views, rather than create them explicitly in your code. There are two methods for dequeueing views. The one you use depends on which type of view has been requested:

Before you call either of these methods, you must tell the collection view how to create the corresponding view if one does not already exist. For this, you must register either a class or a nib file with the collection view. For example, when registering cells, you use the registerClass:forCellWithReuseIdentifier: method to register a class or the registerNib:forCellWithReuseIdentifier: method to register a nib file. As part of the registration process, you specify the reuse identifier that identifies the purpose of the view. This is the same string you use when dequeueing the view later.

After dequeueing the appropriate view in your delegate method, configure its content and return it to the collection view for use. After getting the layout information from the layout object, the collection view applies it to the view and displays it.

For more information about implementing the data source methods to create and configure views, see UICollectionViewDataSource.

Reordering Items Interactively

Collection views allow you to move items around based on user interactions. Normally, the order of items in a collection view is defined by your data source. If you support the ability for users to reorder items, you can configure a gesture recognizer to track the user’s interactions with a collection view item and update that item’s position.

To begin the interactive repositioning of an item, call the beginInteractiveMovementForItemAtIndexPath: method of the collection view. While your gesture recognizer is tracking touch events, call the updateInteractiveMovementTargetPosition: method to report changes in the touch location. When you are done tracking the gesture, call the endInteractiveMovement or cancelInteractiveMovement method to conclude the interactions and update the collection view.

During user interactions, the collection view invalidates its layout dynamically to reflect the current position of the item. If you do nothing, the default layout behavior repositions the items for you, but you can customize the layout animations if you want. When interactions finish, updates its data source object with the new location of the item.

The UICollectionViewController class provides a default gesture recognizer that you can use to rearrange items in its managed collection view. To install this gesture recognizer, set the installsStandardGestureForInteractiveMovement property of the collection view controller to YES.

Interface Builder Attributes

Table 1 lists the attributes that you configure for collection views in Interface Builder.

Table 1

Collection view attributes




The number of prototype cells. This property controls the specified number of prototype cells for you to configure in your storyboard. Collection views must always have at least one cell and may have multiple cells for displaying different types of content or for displaying the same content in different ways.


The layout object to use. Use this control to select between the UICollectionViewFlowLayout object and a custom layout object that you define.

When the flow layout is selected, you can also configure the scrolling direction for the collection view’s content and whether the flow layout has header and footer views. Enabling header and footer views adds reusable views to your storyboard that you can configure with your header and footer content. You can also create those views programmatically.

When a custom layout is selected, you must specify the UICollectionViewLayout subclass to use.

When the Flow layout is selected, the Size inspector for the collection view contains additional attributes for configuring flow layout metrics. Use those attributes to configure the size of your cells, the size of headers and footers, the minimum spacing between cells, and any margins around each section of cells. For more information about the meaning of the flow layout metrics, see UICollectionViewFlowLayout.


A collection view has no direct content of its own to internationalize. Instead, you internationalize the cells and reusable views of the collection view. For more information about internationalization, see Internationalization and Localization Guide.


A collection view has no content of its own to make accessible. If your cells and reusable views contain standard UIKit controls such as UILabel and UITextField, you can make those controls accessible. When a collection view changes its onscreen layout, it posts the UIAccessibilityLayoutChangedNotification notification.

For general information about making your interface accessible, see Accessibility Programming Guide for iOS.


Initializing a Collection View

- initWithFrame:collectionViewLayout:

Initializes and returns a newly allocated collection view object with the specified frame and layout.

Providing the Collection View Data


The object that provides the data for the collection view.


The methods adopted by the object you use to manage data and provide cells for a collection view.


A protocol that provides advance warning of the data requirements for a collection view, allowing the triggering of asynchronous data load operations.

Managing Collection View Interactions


The object that acts as the delegate of the collection view.


The UICollectionViewDelegate protocol defines methods that allow you to manage the selection and highlighting of items in a collection view and to perform actions on those items. The methods of this protocol are all optional.

Configuring the Background View


The view that provides the background appearance.

Prefetching Collection View Cells and Data

UICollectionView provides two prefetching techniques you can use to improve responsiveness:

  • Cell prefetching prepares cells in advance of the time they are required. When a collection view requires a large number of cells simultaneously—for example, a new row of cells in grid layout—the cells are requested earlier than the time required for display. Cell rendering is therefore spread across multiple layout passes, resulting in a smoother scrolling experience. Cell prefetching is enabled by default.

  • Data prefetching provides a mechanism whereby you are notified of the data requirements of a collection view in advance of the requests for cells. This is useful if the content of your cells relies on an expensive data loading process, such as a network request. Assign an object that conforms to the UICollectionViewDataSourcePrefetching protocol to the prefetchDataSource property to receive notifications of when to prefetch data for cells.


Denotes whether cell and data prefetching are enabled.


The object that acts as the prefetching data source for the collection view, receiving notifications of upcoming cell data requirements.

Creating Collection View Cells

- registerClass:forCellWithReuseIdentifier:

Register a class for use in creating new collection view cells.

- registerNib:forCellWithReuseIdentifier:

Register a nib file for use in creating new collection view cells.

- registerClass:forSupplementaryViewOfKind:withReuseIdentifier:

Registers a class for use in creating supplementary views for the collection view.

- registerNib:forSupplementaryViewOfKind:withReuseIdentifier:

Registers a nib file for use in creating supplementary views for the collection view.

- dequeueReusableCellWithReuseIdentifier:forIndexPath:

Returns a reusable cell object located by its identifier

- dequeueReusableSupplementaryViewOfKind:withReuseIdentifier:forIndexPath:

Returns a reusable supplementary view located by its identifier and kind.

Changing the Layout


The layout used to organize the collected view’s items.

- setCollectionViewLayout:animated:

Changes the collection view’s layout and optionally animates the change.

- setCollectionViewLayout:animated:completion:

Changes the collection view’s layout and notifies you when the animations complete.

- startInteractiveTransitionToCollectionViewLayout:completion:

Changes the collection view’s current layout using an interactive transition effect.

- finishInteractiveTransition

Tells the collection view to finish an interactive transition by installing the intended target layout.

- cancelInteractiveTransition

Tells the collection view to abort an interactive transition and return to its original layout object.

Customizing Collection View Layouts

Customize a view layout by changing the size of cells in the flow or implementing a mosaic style.

Getting the State of the Collection View


Returns the number of sections displayed by the collection view.

- numberOfItemsInSection:

Returns the number of items in the specified section.


Returns an array of visible cells currently displayed by the collection view.

Inserting, Moving, and Deleting Items

- insertItemsAtIndexPaths:

Inserts new items at the specified index paths.

- moveItemAtIndexPath:toIndexPath:

Moves an item from one location to another in the collection view.

- deleteItemsAtIndexPaths:

Deletes the items at the specified index paths.

Inserting, Moving, and Deleting Sections

- insertSections:

Inserts new sections at the specified indexes.

- moveSection:toSection:

Moves a section from one location to another in the collection view.

- deleteSections:

Deletes the sections at the specified indexes.

Reordering Items Interactively

- beginInteractiveMovementForItemAtIndexPath:

Initiates the interactive movement of the item at the specified index path.

- updateInteractiveMovementTargetPosition:

Updates the position of the item within the collection view’s bounds.

- endInteractiveMovement

Ends interactive movement tracking and moves the target item to its new location.

- cancelInteractiveMovement

Ends interactive movement tracking and returns the target item to its original location.

Managing Drag Interactions


The delegate object that manages the dragging of items from the collection view.


The interface for initiating drags from a collection view.


A Boolean value indicating whether items were lifted from the collection view and have not yet been dropped.


A Boolean value indicating whether the collection view supports drags and drops between apps.

Managing Drop Interactions


The delegate object that manages the dropping of items into the collection view.


A Boolean value indicating whether the collection view is currently tracking a drop session.


The speed at which items in the collection view are reordered to show potential drop locations.


Constants indicating the speed at which collection view items are reorganized during a drop.

Managing the Selection


A Boolean value that indicates whether users can select items in the collection view.


A Boolean value that determines whether users can select more than one item in the collection view.


The index paths for the selected items.

- selectItemAtIndexPath:animated:scrollPosition:

Selects the item at the specified index path and optionally scrolls it into view.

- deselectItemAtIndexPath:animated:

Deselects the item at the specified index.

Managing Focus


A Boolean value indicating whether the collection view automatically assigns the focus to the item at the last focused index path.

Locating Items and Views in the Collection View

- indexPathForItemAtPoint:

Returns the index path of the item at the specified point in the collection view.


An array of the visible items in the collection view.

- indexPathForCell:

Returns the index path of the specified cell.

- cellForItemAtIndexPath:

Returns the visible cell object at the specified index path.

- indexPathsForVisibleSupplementaryElementsOfKind:

Returns the index paths of all visible supplementary views of the specified type.

- supplementaryViewForElementKind:atIndexPath:

Returns the supplementary view at the specified index path.

- visibleSupplementaryViewsOfKind:

Returns an array of the visible supplementary views of the specified kind.

Getting Layout Information

- layoutAttributesForItemAtIndexPath:

Returns the layout information for the item at the specified index path.

- layoutAttributesForSupplementaryElementOfKind:atIndexPath:

Returns the layout information for the specified supplementary view.

Scrolling an Item Into View

- scrollToItemAtIndexPath:atScrollPosition:animated:

Scrolls the collection view contents until the specified item is visible.

Animating Multiple Changes to the Collection View

- performBatchUpdates:completion:

Animates multiple insert, delete, reload, and move operations as a group.

Reloading Content


A Boolean value indicating whether the collection view contains drop placeholders or is reordering its items as part of handling a drop.

- reloadData

Reloads all of the data for the collection view.

- reloadSections:

Reloads the data in the specified sections of the collection view.

- reloadItemsAtIndexPaths:

Reloads just the items at the specified index paths.



Constants that indicate how to scroll an item into the visible portion of the collection view.


The completion block called at the end of an interactive transition for a collection view.


Inherits From

See Also



A view controller that specializes in managing a collection view.