iOS UITabBarController

Create an instance

A 'tab bar' is commonly found in most iOS apps and is used to present distinct views in each tab.

To create a tab bar controller using the interface builder, drag a tab bar Controller from the Object Library into the canvas.

tab bar controller

By default a tab bar controller comes with two views. To add additional views, control drag from the tab bar controller to the new view and select 'view controllers' in the segue-drop down.

tab bar with views

Changing Tab Bar Item Title and Icon

Using the Story Board:

Select the tab bar item from the corresponding view controller and go to the attributes inspector

If you want a built-in icon and title, set the 'System Item' to the corresponding value.

For a custom icon, add the required images to the assets folder and set the 'System Item' from earlier to 'custom'.

Now, set the icon to be shown when the tab is selected from the 'selected image' drop down and the default tab icon from the 'image' drop down. Add the corresponding title in the 'title' field.

Tab Bar Item Attributes Inspector


In the viewDidLoad() method of the view controller, add the following code:


self.title = @"item";

self.tabBarItem.image = [UIImage imageNamed:@"item"];
self.tabBarItem.selectedImage = [UIImage imageNamed:@"item_selected"];


self.title = "item"
self.tabBarItem.image = UIImage(named: "item")
self.tabBarItem.selectedImage = UIImage(named: "item_selected")

Navigation controller can be embed in each tabs using storyboard it self. It can be like in the screenshot added.

To add a Navigation Controller to a View Controller connecting from Tab Bar Controller, here are the flow

  • Select the view controller for which we need to add navigation controller. Here let it be the Search View Controller as the selection display.
  • From the Editor menu of the Xcode, select Embed In -> Navigation Controller option

enter image description here

Tab Bar color customizing

[[UITabBar appearance] setTintColor:[UIColor whiteColor]];
[[UITabBar appearance] setBarTintColor:[UIColor tabBarBackgroundColor]];
[[UITabBar appearance] setBackgroundColor:[UIColor tabBarInactiveColor]];
[[UINavigationBar appearance] setBarTintColor:[UIColor appBlueColor]];
[[UINavigationBar appearance] setTintColor:[UIColor whiteColor]];
[[UINavigationBar appearance] setBarStyle:UIBarStyleBlack];

UITabBarController with custom color selection

UITabBarController building in Swift 3 Change image color and title according to selection with changing selected tab color.

import UIKit

class TabbarController: UITabBarController {

    override func viewDidLoad() {

        self.navigationController?.isNavigationBarHidden = true
        UITabBar.appearance().tintColor = UIColor.purple
        // set red as selected background color
        let numberOfItems = CGFloat(tabBar.items!.count)
        let tabBarItemSize = CGSize(width: tabBar.frame.width / numberOfItems, height: tabBar.frame.height)
        tabBar.selectionIndicatorImage = UIImage.imageWithColor(UIColor.lightText.withAlphaComponent(0.5), size: tabBarItemSize).resizableImage(withCapInsets:
        // remove default border
        tabBar.frame.size.width = self.view.frame.width + 4
        tabBar.frame.origin.x = -2
    override func viewWillAppear(_ animated: Bool) {
        // For Images
        let firstViewController:UIViewController = NotificationVC()
        // The following statement is what you need
        let customTabBarItem:UITabBarItem = UITabBarItem(title: nil, image: UIImage(named: "[email protected]")?.withRenderingMode(UIImageRenderingMode.alwaysOriginal), selectedImage: UIImage(named: "[email protected]"))
        firstViewController.tabBarItem = customTabBarItem
        for item in self.tabBar.items! {
            let unselectedItem = [NSForegroundColorAttributeName: UIColor.white]
            let selectedItem = [NSForegroundColorAttributeName: UIColor.purple]
            item.setTitleTextAttributes(unselectedItem, for: .normal)
            item.setTitleTextAttributes(selectedItem, for: .selected)


extension UIImage {
    class func imageWithColor(_ color: UIColor, size: CGSize) -> UIImage {
        let rect: CGRect = CGRect(origin: CGPoint(x: 0,y :0), size: CGSize(width: size.width, height: size.height))
        UIGraphicsBeginImageContextWithOptions(size, false, 0)
        let image: UIImage = UIGraphicsGetImageFromCurrentImageContext()!
        return image

Choosing image for tab bar and set the tab title here

create custom tab

Selection of tab

Selection another tab

enter image description here

Create Tab Bar controller programmatically without Storyboard

class AppDelegate: UIResponder, UIApplicationDelegate {

    var window: UIWindow?
    var firstTabNavigationController : UINavigationController!
    var secondTabNavigationControoller : UINavigationController!
    var thirdTabNavigationController : UINavigationController!
    var fourthTabNavigationControoller : UINavigationController!
    var fifthTabNavigationController : UINavigationController!

    func application(_ application: UIApplication, didFinishLaunchingWithOptions launchOptions: [UIApplicationLaunchOptionsKey: Any]?) -> Bool {
        // Override point for customization after application launch.
       window = UIWindow(frame: UIScreen.main.bounds)
        window?.backgroundColor =
        let tabBarController = UITabBarController()
        firstTabNavigationController = UINavigationController.init(rootViewController: FirstViewController())
        secondTabNavigationControoller = UINavigationController.init(rootViewController: SecondViewController())
        thirdTabNavigationController = UINavigationController.init(rootViewController: ThirdViewController())
        fourthTabNavigationControoller = UINavigationController.init(rootViewController: FourthViewController())
        fifthTabNavigationController = UINavigationController.init(rootViewController: FifthViewController())
        tabBarController.viewControllers = [firstTabNavigationController, secondTabNavigationControoller, thirdTabNavigationController, fourthTabNavigationControoller, fifthTabNavigationController]
        let item1 = UITabBarItem(title: "Home", image: UIImage(named: "ico-home"), tag: 0)
        let item2 = UITabBarItem(title: "Contest", image:  UIImage(named: "ico-contest"), tag: 1)
        let item3 = UITabBarItem(title: "Post a Picture", image:  UIImage(named: "ico-photo"), tag: 2)
        let item4 = UITabBarItem(title: "Prizes", image:  UIImage(named: "ico-prizes"), tag: 3)
        let item5 = UITabBarItem(title: "Profile", image:  UIImage(named: "ico-profile"), tag: 4)

        firstTabNavigationController.tabBarItem = item1
        secondTabNavigationControoller.tabBarItem = item2
        thirdTabNavigationController.tabBarItem = item3
        fourthTabNavigationControoller.tabBarItem = item4
        fifthTabNavigationController.tabBarItem = item5
        UITabBar.appearance().tintColor = UIColor(red: 0/255.0, green: 146/255.0, blue: 248/255.0, alpha: 1.0)
        self.window?.rootViewController = tabBarController

        return true