A control that displays one or more buttons in a tab bar for selecting between different subtasks, views, or modes in an app.


class UITabBar : UIView


Typically, you use tab bars in conjunction with a UITabBarController object, but you can also use them as standalone controls in your app. Tab bars always appear across the bottom edge of the screen and display the contents of one or more UITabBarItem objects. A tab bar’s appearance can be customized with a background image or tint color to suit the needs of your interface. Tapping an item selects and highlights that item, and you use the selection of the item to enable the corresponding mode for your app.

You can configure tab bars programmatically or in Interface Builder. A UITabBarController object provides its own tab bar object and you must configure the object provided to you. When creating a tab bar programmatically, use the init(frame:) method or another view initializer method to set its initial configuration. Use the methods of this class to configure the appearance of the tab bar. For tab bars you create yourself, you also use the methods of this class to specify the items displayed by the tab bar.

A tab bar reports selections and user customizations to its delegate object. For tab bars you create yourself, use the delegate to respond to selections or to the addition, removal, or reordering of items in the tab bar. (A UITabBarController object acts as the delegate for the tab bar it manages.) For more information on implementing a tab bar delegate, see UITabBarDelegate.

Configuring the Items of a Tab Bar

You can configure tab bar items using Interface Builder or create and configure them programmatically in your code. Tab bars in Interface Builder come preconfigured with some initial items and you can add, remove, or reorder items as needed. How you configure items at design time depends on whether your tab bar is associated with a UITabBarController object:

  • Configuring your tab bar in Interface Builder:

    • When a UITabBarController object is present, add or remove view controllers to your scene and create relationship segues between the tab bar controller and each new view controller. Creating a relationship segue automatically adds a new item to the tab bar, and deleting an existing relationship segue removes the corresponding tab bar item.

    • When a tab bar controller is not present, drag tab bar items from the library onto your tab bar.

  • Configuring your tab bar programmatically:

    • To configure the tab bar associated with a UITabBarController object, configure the view controllers associated with the tab bar controller. The tab bar automatically obtains its items from the tabBarItem property of each view controller associated with the tab bar controller.

    • To configure tab bar items directly, use the setItems(_:animated:) method of the tab bar itself.

A tab bar displays all of its tabs onscreen at once, using the itemPositioning property to determine how to position items in the available space. If you have more items than can fit in the available space, display only a subset of them and let the user select which tabs are displayed. The beginCustomizingItems(_:) method displays an interface for selecting which tab bar items to display.

The contents of each item are stored in a UITabBarItem object. Each item contains a title and an image to display in the tab. You can also use tab bar items to add a badge to the corresponding tab. For more information about creating and configuring items, see UITabBarItem.

Responding to Tab Selections

For tab bars with an associated tab bar controller, the tab bar controller automatically manages selections and displays the appropriate view controller. The only time you have to manage selections yourself is when you create the tab bar without a tab bar controller. The tab bar reports selections to the tabBar(_:didSelect:) method of its delegate object, which you can use to respond to selection changes. For more information about implementing the delegate object, see UITabBarDelegate.

Interface Builder Attributes

Table 1 lists the attributes that you configure for tab bars in Interface Builder.

Table 1

Tab bar attributes




The background image to display for the bar. If you specify a stretchable image, the image is stretched to fit the available space; otherwise, the image is tiled. When you configure a background image, the tab bar ignores the tint color information. To set this attribute programmatically, use the backgroundImage property.


The custom shadow image for the tab bar. This attribute is ignored if the tab bar does not also have a custom background image. To set this attribute programmatically, use the shadowImage property.


The image to use for the selected tab. To set this attribute programmatically, use the selectionIndicatorImage property.

Image Tint

The tint color to apply to the selected item. To set this attribute programmatically, use the tintColor property.


The basic style to apply to the bar. You can configure a tab bar with a dark or light style and the bar can be opaque or translucent. To set the style programmatically, use the barStyle and isTranslucent properties.

Bar Tint

The tint color to apply to the bar. To set this attribute programmatically, use the barTintColor property.

Item Positioning

The positioning scheme to apply to items. Use this attribute to configure how items are spaced across the length of the tab bar. To set this attribute programmatically, use the itemPositioning property.


To internationalize a tab bar, you must provide localized strings for the tab bar item titles.

For more information, see Internationalization and Localization Guide.


Tab bars are accessible by default.

With VoiceOver enabled on an iOS device, when a user touches a tab in a tab bar, VoiceOver reads the title of the tab, its position in the bar, and whether it is selected. For example in the iTunes app on iPad, you might hear “Selected, Audiobooks, four of seven” or “Genius, six of seven.”

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


Customizing the Tab Bar Behavior

var delegate: UITabBarDelegate?

The tab bar’s delegate object.

protocol UITabBarDelegate

The UITabBarDelegate protocol defines optional methods for a delegate of a UITabBar object. The UITabBar class provides the ability for the user to reorder, remove, and add items to the tab bar; this process is referred to as customizing the tab bar. The tab bar delegate receives messages when customizing occurs.

Configuring Tab Bar Items

var items: [UITabBarItem]?

The items displayed by the tab bar.

func setItems([UITabBarItem]?, animated: Bool)

Sets the items on the tab bar, optionally animating any changes into position.

var selectedItem: UITabBarItem?

The currently selected item on the tab bar.

Customizing Tab Bar Appearance

var standardAppearance: UITabBarAppearance

The appearance settings for a standard-height tab bar.

var leadingAccessoryView: UIView

The view at the leading edge of a tab bar on tvOS.

var trailingAccessoryView: UIView

The view at the trailing edge of a tab bar on tvOS.

var isTranslucent: Bool

A Boolean value that indicates whether the tab bar is translucent.

Legacy Customizations

Customize appearance information directly on the tab bar object.

Supporting User Customization of Tab Bars

func beginCustomizingItems([UITabBarItem])

Presents a standard interface that lets the user customize the contents of the tab bar.

func endCustomizing(animated: Bool) -> Bool

Dismisses the standard interface used to customize the tab bar.

var isCustomizing: Bool

A Boolean value indicating whether the user is currently customizing the tab bar.

See Also


class UIBarItem

An abstract superclass for items that can be added to a bar that appears at the bottom of the screen.

class UIBarButtonItem

A button specialized for placement on a toolbar or tab bar.

class UIBarButtonItemGroup

A set of bar button items on the shortcuts bar above the keyboard on iPad.

class UINavigationBar

Navigational controls displayed in a bar along the top of the screen, usually in conjunction with a navigation controller.

class UISearchBar

A specialized view for receiving search-related information from the user.

class UIToolbar

A control that displays one or more buttons along the bottom edge of your interface.

class UITabBarItem

An item in a tab bar.

protocol UIBarPositioning

A set of methods for defining the ways that bars can be positioned in iOS apps.

protocol UIBarPositioningDelegate

A set of methods that support the positioning of a bar that conforms to the UIBarPositioning protocol.