Adding a UILabel to a UIToolbar

I'm trying to add a label to my toolbar. Button works great, however when I add the label object, it crashes. Any ideas?

UIBarButtonItem *setDateRangeButton = [[UIBarButtonItem alloc] initWithTitle:@"Set date range"

UILabel *label = [[UILabel alloc] initWithFrame:CGRectMake(5, 5, 20, 20)];
label.text = @"test";

[toolbar setItems:[NSArray arrayWithObjects:setDateRangeButton,label, nil]];

// Add the toolbar as a subview to the navigation controller.
[self.navigationController.view addSubview:toolbar];

// Reload the table view
[self.tableView reloadData];


Have a look into this

[[UIBarButtonItem alloc] initWithCustomView:yourCustomView];

Essentially every item must be a "button" but they can be instantiated with any view you require. Here is some example code. Note, since other buttons are typically on the toolbar, spacers are placed on each side of the title button so it stays centered.

NSMutableArray *items = [[self.toolbar items] mutableCopy];

UIBarButtonItem *spacer = [[UIBarButtonItem alloc] initWithBarButtonSystemItem:UIBarButtonSystemItemFlexibleSpace target:nil action:nil];
[items addObject:spacer];
[spacer release];

self.titleLabel = [[UILabel alloc] initWithFrame:CGRectMake(0.0 , 11.0f, self.view.frame.size.width, 21.0f)];
[self.titleLabel setFont:[UIFont fontWithName:@"Helvetica-Bold" size:18]];
[self.titleLabel setBackgroundColor:[UIColor clearColor]];
[self.titleLabel setTextColor:[UIColor colorWithRed:157.0/255.0 green:157.0/255.0 blue:157.0/255.0 alpha:1.0]];
[self.titleLabel setText:@"Title"];
[self.titleLabel setTextAlignment:NSTextAlignmentCenter];

UIBarButtonItem *spacer2 = [[UIBarButtonItem alloc] initWithBarButtonSystemItem:UIBarButtonSystemItemFlexibleSpace target:nil action:nil];
[items addObject:spacer2];
[spacer2 release];

UIBarButtonItem *title = [[UIBarButtonItem alloc] initWithCustomView:self.titleLabel];
[items addObject:title];
[title release];

[self.toolbar setItems:items animated:YES];
[items release];

For those using Interface Builder to layout your UIToolBar, it is also possible to do this using Interface Builder alone.

To add a UILabel to a UIToolBar you need to add a generic UIView object to your UIToolBar in IB by dragging a new UIView object over your UIToolBar. IB will automatically create a UIBarButtonItem that will be initialized with your custom UIView. Next add a UILabel to the UIView and edit the UILabel graphically to match your preferred style. You can then visually set up your fixed and/or variable spacers as desired to position your UILabel appropriately.

You must also set the background of both the UILabel and the UIView to clearColor to get the UIToolBar to show through correctly under the UILabel.

I found answerBot's answer very useful, but I think I found an even easier way, in Interface Builder:

  • create a UIBarButtonItem and add it to your Toolbar in Interface Builder

  • Uncheck "enabled" for this BarButtonItem

  • plug this BarButtonItem to a property in your class (this is in Swift, but would be very similar in Obj-C):

    @IBOutlet private weak var lastUpdateButton: UIBarButtonItem! // Dummy barButtonItem whose customView is lastUpdateLabel
  • add another property for the Label itself:

    private var lastUpdateLabel = UILabel(frame: CGRectZero)
  • in viewDidLoad, add the following code to set the properties of your label, and add it as the customView of your BarButtonItem

    // Dummy button containing the date of last update
    lastUpdateLabel.backgroundColor = UIColor.clearColor()
    lastUpdateLabel.textAlignment = .Center
    lastUpdateButton.customView = lastUpdateLabel
  • To update the UILabel text:

    lastUpdateLabel.text = "Updated: 9/12/14, 2:53"

Result :

You have to call lastUpdateLabel.sizetoFit() each time you update the label text

One of the things I'm using this trick for is to instantiate a UIActivityIndicatorView on top of the UIToolBar, something that otherwise wouldn't be possible. For instance here I have a UIToolBar with 2 UIBarButtonItem, a FlexibleSpaceBarButtonItem, and then another UIBarButtonItem. I want to insert a UIActivityIndicatorView into the UIToolBar between the flexible space and the final (right-hand) button. So in my RootViewController I do the following,

- (void)viewDidLoad {
[super viewDidLoad];// Add an invisible UIActivityViewIndicator to the toolbar
UIToolbar *toolbar = (UIToolbar *)[self.view viewWithTag:767];
NSArray *items = [toolbar items];

activityIndicator = [[UIActivityIndicatorView alloc] initWithFrame:CGRectMake(0.0f, 0.0f, 20.0f, 20.0f)];
[activityIndicator setActivityIndicatorViewStyle:UIActivityIndicatorViewStyleWhite];    

NSArray *newItems = [NSArray arrayWithObjects:[items objectAtIndex:0],[items objectAtIndex:1],[items objectAtIndex:2],
                     [[UIBarButtonItem alloc] initWithCustomView:activityIndicator], [items objectAtIndex:3],nil];
[toolbar setItems:newItems];}

Similar to Matt R I used interface builder. But I wanted to have 1 UIWebView inside instead so that i can have some text bolded and other text not (like the mail app). So

  1. Add the webview instead.
  2. Uncheck opaque
  3. Make sure background is clear color
  4. Hook everything up with IBOutlet
  5. Use the below html to have a transparent background so the toolbar shines through


NSString *path = [[NSBundle mainBundle] bundlePath];
NSURL *baseURL = [NSURL fileURLWithPath:path];
NSString *html = [NSString stringWithFormat:@"<html><head><style>body{font-size:11px;text-align:center;background-color:transparent;color:#fff;font-family:helvetica;vertical-align:middle;</style> </head><body><b>Updated</b> 10/11/12 <b>11:09</b> AM</body></html>"];
[myWebView loadHTMLString:html baseURL:baseURL];

Add UILabel to a UIToolbar programmatically using swift 3

Full example
import UIKit

class ViewController: UIViewController {

    var toolBar: ToolBar!

    override func viewDidLoad() {

        toolBar = ToolBar(bottomBarWithHeight: 44, target: self)

        toolBar.appendButton(buttonItem: toolBar.buttonItem(systemItem: .add, selector: #selector(ViewController.action)))
        toolBar.appendButton(buttonItem: toolBar.buttonItem(systemItem: .camera, selector: #selector(ViewController.action)))
        toolBar.appendButton(buttonItem: toolBar.flexibleSpace)
        toolBar.appendButton(buttonItem: toolBar.titleItem(text: "\(NSDate())", font: UIFont.systemFont(ofSize: 12), color: UIColor.lightGray))
        toolBar.appendButton(buttonItem: toolBar.flexibleSpace)
        toolBar.appendButton(buttonItem: toolBar.buttonItem(systemItem: .cancel, selector: #selector(ViewController.action)))

    func action() {


class ToolBarTitleItem: UIBarButtonItem {

    var label: UILabel

    init(text: String, font: UIFont, color: UIColor) {

        label =  UILabel(frame: UIScreen.main.bounds)
        label.text = text
        label.font = font
        label.textColor = color
        label.textAlignment = .center


        customView = label

    required init?(coder aDecoder: NSCoder) {
        fatalError("init(coder:) has not been implemented")

class ToolBar: UIToolbar {

    let target: Any?

    init(bottomBarWithHeight: CGFloat, target: Any?) { = target

        var bounds =  UIScreen.main.bounds
        bounds.origin.y = bounds.height - bottomBarWithHeight
        bounds.size.height = bottomBarWithHeight

        super.init(frame: bounds)

    init(frame: CGRect, target: Any?) { = target
        super.init(frame: frame)

    required init?(coder aDecoder: NSCoder) {
        fatalError("init(coder:) has not been implemented")

    func buttonItem(systemItem: UIBarButtonSystemItem, selector: Selector?) -> UIBarButtonItem {
        return UIBarButtonItem(barButtonSystemItem: systemItem, target: target, action: selector)

    var flexibleSpace: UIBarButtonItem {
        return buttonItem(systemItem: UIBarButtonSystemItem.flexibleSpace, selector:nil)

    func titleItem (text: String, font: UIFont, color: UIColor) -> UIBarButtonItem {
        return ToolBarTitleItem(text: text, font: font, color: color)

    func appendButton(buttonItem: UIBarButtonItem) {
        if items == nil {
            items = [UIBarButtonItem]()


If you want to adding a view up the toolbar view you can try this:

[self.navigationController.tabBarController.view addSubview:yourView];

Try this:

UILabel *label = [[UILabel alloc] initWithFrame:CGRectMake(140 , 0, 50, 250)];
[label setBackgroundColor:[UIColor clearColor]];
label.text = @"TEXT";
UIView *view = (UIView *) label;
[self.barItem setCustomView:view];

Note: self.barItem is a UIBarButtonItem added from the object library and placed between two flexible spaces.

another way is to remove the [self.barItem setCustom:view] line and change the parameters of the label (width) so that it fills the entire toolbar and set the alignment to middle and the font by yourself in code,

Need Your Help

How do you get social media buttons all the same size?

javascript css facebook-like social-media

I've come across a few websites where all the social media icons to tweet about that page or like this person or +1 the page on google are all the same size, yet by default they are all different s...

Email sending function not sending data

php email post

While I am sending any mail, this will return only name: from: message: subject : , but all these fields remain blank..