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Color Picker in iOS

WWDC 2020 introduced a slew of new UIControl APIs to iOS, iPadOS, and macOS. One of the best new additions is the system color picker named UIColorPickerViewController. Here are some of the main features of this new control:

  • Native: adapts to system fonts and themes.
  • Powerful: Colors can be picked from 3 different modes and it provides a screen picker which can be used to pick colours from anywhere on the screen
  • Transferable Pallets Picked colours from the colour picker can be accessed from anywhere.
  • Universal: Available on iOS, iPadOS, and with Catalyst on macOS

Let’s code

The first thing we’ll do is configure our parent view controller. For this example, we’ll change the background colour of this view controller when the colour picker view controller returns us a new color. We’ll store this colour property in a variable called pickedColor. Let us initially set its value to UIColor.systemTeal because, fun fact, teal is my favourite color. We have to create another property that is an object of the brand new UIColorPickerViewController class. We’ll call this object colorPicker. Your class properties should now look like this:

private var pickedColor = UIColor.systemTeal
private var colorPicker = UIColorPickerViewController()

Creating a selectColor Function

This function will be used to configure and present the ColorPicker view controller on top of our parent view controller. Using the colorPicker variable, we can access several properties of the CPVC such as setting the initial color, setting a settingAlpha boolean that will let users choose the opacityalpha of the color. The function should now look like this:

private func selectColor() {
    colorPicker.supportsAlpha = true
    colorPicker.selectedColor = pickedColor
    self.present(colorPicker, animated: true)

Setting up the Bar Button

Our color picker view controller will be presented when we tap on the right bar button item in the navigation bar. For this, we’ll create a function that will set up the bar button and configure its action. We’ll first create a UIAction that will call the selectColor() function that we just built.

private func setupBarButton() {
    let pickColorAction = UIAction(title:Pick Color) { _ in
    let pickColorBarButton = UIBarButtonItem(image: UIImage(systemName: “eyedropper”), primaryAction: pickColorAction)
    navigationItem.rightBarButtonItem = pickColorBarButton

Wiring up the Delegates

UIColorPickerViewController contains a UIColorPickerViewControllerDelegate that can inform the delegate on

  • didSelectColor — User has picked a color.
  • didFinish - User has dismissed the color picker. To use these delegates we’ll extend the ViewController class and add conformance to the delegate. Below the closing bracket of the main class, declaration write this
extension ViewController: UIColorPickerViewControllerDelegate {

Both the above-mentioned delegate properties are optional, but you’d want to use at least one of them. For this example, we’ll use both of the delegates just so that you understand when and how the delegate methods get called. In the class extension, add these two delegate methods.

func colorPickerViewControllerDidSelectColor(_ viewController: UIColorPickerViewController) {
func colorPickerViewControllerDidFinish(_ viewController: UIColorPickerViewController) {

The delegate method names are pretty self-explanatory, as with all Swift APIs. In the didSelectColor method, we’ll first set the picked color to our pickedColor variable and then set the value of the view’s background color to pickedColor. Simple

func colorPickerViewControllerDidSelectColor(_ viewController: UIColorPickerViewController) {
    pickedColor = viewController.selectedColor
    view.backgroundColor = pickedColor

You can choose to do this in the didFinish method as well, but for this example, I’ll simply put a print statement to print a message to our Xcode console when the view is dismissed.

func colorPickerViewControllerDidFinish(_ viewController: UIColorPickerViewController) {
    print(Color Picker Controller Did Finish)

Configuring in viewDidLoad

Now that we have most of our app ready, all we need to do is to set the initial background color of our view, configure the barButtonItem, and set the delegate. This is what my viewDidLoad method looks like.

override func viewDidLoad() {
    colorPicker.delegate = self
    view.backgroundColor = pickedColor

Conclusion In this article, we saw how to use iOS 14's new UIColorPickerViewController in our UIKit applications. Thank you!