Sample Code

Adding Menus and Shortcuts to the Menu Bar and User Interface

Provide quick access to useful actions by adding menus and keyboard shortcuts to your Mac app built with Mac Catalyst.



This sample project demonstrates how to add menu commands and keyboard shortcuts to the menu bar. The sample app uses its MenuController object to insert a UIMenuSystem object that adds the following menus:

  • New — Appears at the beginning of the File menu and contains two operations: Date Item and Text Item.

  • Cities — Contains a group of UICommand and UIKeyCommand objects.

  • Navigation — Contains a group of UIKeyCommand objects for command-key navigation.

  • Style — Contains a group of UICommand objects that have checkmark states. This grouping looks like a font-style menu for text formatting.

  • Tools — Contains a group of UICommand objects.

The sample project also shows you how to add contextual menus to views, and how to handle menu-command selection using UIContextMenuInteractionDelegate.

Add Menus to the Menu Bar

The Mac version of your iPad app comes with a standard menu bar. You use the UIMenuSystem class, an object representing the main or contextual menu system, to modify the menu bar.

This sample also uses UIMenuSystem to add menus to the mainSystem system menu by implementing buildMenuWithBuilder: in AppDelegate. This function receives a UIMenuBuilder object that the sample then uses to add and remove menus. Because menus can exist with no window or view hierarchy, the system only consults UIApplication and UIApplicationDelegate to build the app’s menu bar.

Menu commands consist of UICommand, UIKeyCommand, and UIAction objects that are grouped in a UIMenu container.

Add a Menu Command to the File Menu

This sample inserts a UIKeyCommand called Command-O into the File Menu and creates a corresponding keyboard shortcut:

class func openMenu() -> UIMenu {
    let openCommand =
        UIKeyCommand(title: NSLocalizedString("OpenTitle", comment: ""),
                     image: nil,
                     action: #selector(AppDelegate.openAction),
                     input: "O",
                     modifierFlags: .command,
                     propertyList: nil)
    let openMenu =
        UIMenu(title: "",
               image: nil,
               identifier: UIMenu.Identifier(""),
               options: .displayInline,
               children: [openCommand])
    return openMenu

Notice that the UIKeyCommand title is a localized string using the NSLocalizedString function, which can display the menu name in multiple languages.

This sample inserts the Open command into the middle of the menu bar’s File menu:

builder.insertChild(MenuController.openMenu(), atStartOfMenu: .file)

Contribute to the Edit Menu

Editing operations, such as cut, copy, paste, and delete, are commonly used in most apps. In this sample app, you can access these operations through the Edit menu, where you can edit the sample’s left-side content or its master table-view content. These operations represent the first-responder functions: cut(_ sender: Any?), copy(_ sender: Any?), paste(_ sender: Any?), delete(_ sender: Any?).

Add Commands to Control the User Interface

In this sample, you can change the primary or left-side table view’s selection by using UIKeyCommands. These key commands are connected to the up and down arrow keys and are added directly to the table view. The following example shows how to add the down arrow key as a UIKeyCommand:

let downArrowCommand =
    UIKeyCommand(input: UIKeyCommand.inputDownArrow,
                 modifierFlags: [],
                 action: #selector(MasterViewController.downArrowAction(_:)))

This sample also demonstrates how to add menu commands as command-key equivalents. The following example shows how to create a menu with all four arrow keys as Command-keys:

class func navigationMenu() -> UIMenu {
    let keyCommands = [ UIKeyCommand.inputRightArrow,
                        UIKeyCommand.inputDownArrow ]
    let arrows = Arrows.allCases
    let arrowKeyChildrenCommands = zip(keyCommands, arrows).map { (command, arrow) in
        UIKeyCommand(title: arrow.localizedString(),
                     image: nil,
                     action: #selector(AppDelegate.navigationMenuAction(_:)),
                     input: command,
                     modifierFlags: .command,
                     propertyList: [CommandPListKeys.ArrowsKeyIdentifier: arrow.rawValue])
    let arrowKeysGroup = UIMenu(title: "",
                  image: nil,
                  identifier: UIMenu.Identifier(""),
                  options: .displayInline,
                  children: arrowKeyChildrenCommands)
    return UIMenu(title: NSLocalizedString("NavigationTitle", comment: ""),
                  image: nil,
                  identifier: UIMenu.Identifier(""),
                  options: [],
                  children: [arrowKeysGroup])

Display Contextual Menus

This sample contains two kinds of contextual menus. One uses UIMenuController, a menu interface positioned relative to a target rectangle or view. The other uses UIContextMenuInteractionDelegate, an interaction object used to display relevant actions for your content.

For the custom view (ResponsiveView), whose background color is determined by user preference, a long press or a tap-and-hold gesture displays a UIMenuController for editing the master table view items. Use canPerformAction:withSender: to determine which actions appear in that contextual menu.

For the other contextual menu, the user control-clicks or right-mouse clicks, or does a tap and hold on the rest of the DetailViewController content. The sample uses UIContextMenuInteractionDelegate to display Copy, Rename, and Share commands. This kind of contextual menu is a grouping of UIAction objects. UIAction is a menu element that performs its action in a closure. In iOS, you optionally customize this contextual menu’s highlight preview by using contextMenuInteraction:previewForHighlightingMenuWithConfiguration:. This delegate function returns a UITargetedPreview, the source view used when opening and animating the contextual menu.

Adjust Menu Commands

This sample creates its Edit menu content based on the first responder in the responder chain. You can adjust menu commands by using canPerformAction:withSender:. The master view controller overrides this function to enable menu commands based on the table view state or the state of the pasteboard.

override func canPerformAction(_ action: Selector, withSender sender: Any?) -> Bool {
    if action == #selector(newAction(_:)) {
        // User wants to perform a "New" operation.
        return true
    } else {
        switch (tableView.indexPathForSelectedRow, action) {
        // These Edit commands are supported:
        case let (_?, action) where action == #selector(cut(_:)) ||
                                    action == #selector(copy(_:)) ||
                                    action == #selector(delete(_:)):
            return true
        case (_?, _):
            // Allow the nextResponder to make the determination.
            return super.canPerformAction(action, withSender: sender)
        // Paste is supported if the pasteboard has text.
        case (.none, action) where action == #selector(paste(_:)):
            return (UIPasteboard.general.string != nil) ? true :
                // Allow the nextResponder to make the determination.
                super.canPerformAction(action, withSender: sender)
        case (.none, _):
            return false

To change other menu commands, this sample implements validateCommand:, where you can adjust those specific commands.

// The font style check states used in the Style menu.
var fontMenuStyleStates = Set<String>()

// You are requested to update the state of a given command from a menu; Here you adjust the Styles menu.
// Note: Only command groups that you add will be called to validate.
override func validate(_ command: UICommand) {
    // Obtain the plist of the incoming command.
    if let fontStyleDict = command.propertyList as? [String: String] {
        // Check if the command comes from the Styles menu.
        if let fontStyle = fontStyleDict[MenuController.CommandPListKeys.StylesIdentifierKey] {
            // Update the "Style" menu command state (checked or unchecked).
            command.state = fontMenuStyleStates.contains(fontStyle) ? .on : .off

Add a Preferences Menu

Mac apps typically display app-specific preferences using a preferences window. This sample adds a preferences window by adding a Settings bundle to the Xcode project’s target. The window automatically becomes available to the user through the Preferences menu command in the Application menu. To learn more, see Displaying a Preferences Window.

See Also

Menu Elements and Keyboard Shortcuts


An object representing a menu, action, or command.


A menu element that performs its action in a block.


A menu element that performs its action in a selector.


An object that specifies a key press performed on a hardware keyboard and the resulting action.


Attributes that determine the style of the menu element.


Constants that indicate the state of an action- or command-based menu element.