How to make a Custom TabBar on iOS


I am writing this article since I needed to create a TabBar with custom TabBarItems which have different dimensions. Surprisingly I didn’t find a method or approach to accomplish that in the official documentation or any other website.

Before we start here is the final result


custom TabItem with custom image

Getting to work

  • FIrst of all let’s launch xCode and open our project (or create a fresh app if not already existant). As soon as your project is ready, create a new Cocoa touch class like it is shown below:


Let’s name the newly-created class CustomTabViewController (so it will be self-explanatory) and move on to the header file: CustomTabViewController.h and and past this code.


@interface CustomTabViewController : UITabBarController
@property (strong, nonatomic) IBOutlet UITabBar *myTab;


now let’s go to the implementation, go to the .m file of the class (CustomTabViewController.m) and past this code:

@implementation CustomTabViewController

- (void)viewDidLoad {
    [super viewDidLoad];
    // Do any additional setup after loading the view.
    // Override point for customization after application launch.
    CustomTabViewController *tabBarController = (CustomTabViewController *)self;
    UITabBar *tabBar = tabBarController.tabBar;
    UITabBarItem *tabBarItem1 = [tabBar.items objectAtIndex:0];
    UITabBarItem *tabBarItem2 = [tabBar.items objectAtIndex:1];
    UITabBarItem *tabBarItem3 = [tabBar.items objectAtIndex:2];
    UITabBarItem *tabBarItem4 = [tabBar.items objectAtIndex:3];
    UITabBarItem *tabBarItem5 = [tabBar.items objectAtIndex:4];
    CGRect frm = tabBar.frame;
    frm.size.width = 100.20;
     //[tabBarController.tabBar.subviews objectAtIndex:3].frame = CGRectMake(0.0, 0.0, 200, frm.size.height) ;
    NSLog ( @"tab width: %f", [tabBar.subviews objectAtIndex:0].frame.size.width );
    //because the whole tab bar item will be replaced by an image, I dont need title
    tabBarItem1.title = @"hello there";
    NSLog ( @"tab width: %f", [tabBar.subviews objectAtIndex:1].frame.size.width );
    // this is the custom tab, also the base position in relation to the other tabs. Should leave it as it is now.
    [tabBarController.tabBar.subviews objectAtIndex:4].bounds = CGRectOffset([tabBarController.tabBar.subviews objectAtIndex:4].frame, -20.0f, -10.0f);
    // Tabs are NOT ordered, order may vary depending on device's screen size. As for the iPhone screen the order is reversed ( first is last )
    [tabBarController.tabBar.subviews objectAtIndex:3].bounds = CGRectOffset([tabBarController.tabBar.subviews objectAtIndex:4].frame, -10.0f, 0.0f);

    [tabBarController.tabBar.subviews objectAtIndex:2].bounds = CGRectOffset([tabBarController.tabBar.subviews objectAtIndex:4].frame, -20.0f, 0.0f);

    [tabBarController.tabBar.subviews objectAtIndex:1].bounds = CGRectOffset([tabBarController.tabBar.subviews objectAtIndex:4].frame, -20.0f, 0.0f);
    [tabBarController.tabBar.subviews objectAtIndex:0].bounds = CGRectOffset([tabBarController.tabBar.subviews objectAtIndex:4].frame, -30.0f, 0.0f);
    // if system predefined icons are set, changing the title at this point won't have any effect.
    tabBarItem2.title = @"";
    tabBarItem3.title = @"taha";            // test string, not used for system icons.
    tabBarItem4.title = @"";
    tabBarItem5.title = @"";
    return;     // terminate view loading method by returning void.

- (void)didReceiveMemoryWarning
    [super didReceiveMemoryWarning];
    // Dispose of any resources that can be recreated.

#pragma mark - Navigation

// In a storyboard-based application, you will often want to do a little preparation before navigation
- (void)prepareForSegue:(UIStoryboardSegue *)segue sender:(id)sender {
    // Get the new view controller using [segue destinationViewController].
    // Pass the selected object to the new view controller.



  • Setting the UITabBarController

Please node that CustomTabViewController will act as UITabBarController of our TabBar so we might as well set it as so, we can do that using the StoryBoard as it is shown below:



  • We are all set!

You can customize the UITabBarItem dimensions, background as you wish and however it suits you now!


You can find the code on GitHub!


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