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iOS8 Day-by-Day :: Day 16 :: Hiding Navigation Bars

Posted on 8 Aug 2014 Written by Sam Davies

Updated 9 Apr 2015: This post has been updated to Swift 1.2

This post is part of a daily series of posts introducing the most exciting new parts of iOS8 for developers – #iOS8DayByDay. To see the posts you’ve missed check out the introduction page, but have a read through the rest of this post first!

To enjoy each of the 39 posts all in one place, you can now also download the iOS8 Day-by-Day eBook free from our website! 


Today’s post is quite a short one – a snippet if you will, but that makes it no less interesting or useful. Back in iOS7, Safari introduced the ability to show and hide the navigation and tool bars by tapping or swiping. This really allowed the content to shine through – reducing the proportion of the screen dedicated to less-useful chrome at appropriate times.

In iOS8 the navigation controller has been updated with some additional properties which offer this functionality out-the-box. In today’s post you’ll learn about how to use it and how you can configure it to behave exactly as you want.

There is a small accompanying project which is available in the iOS8 Day-by-Day repo on github at

Navigation Controller Updates

Since the bars usually present in an iOS app are part of a navigation controller the auto-hiding functionality is made available through additions to the UINavigationContoller API.

There are four different “modes” of bar hiding available – hiding on tap, hiding on swipe, hiding based on vertical size class and hiding on keyboard appearance.

Hiding on tap

The simplest implementation is to have the bars disappear when you tap on the view, and this is performed by setting the hidesBarsOnTap property to true. You can also get hold of the gesture recognizer via the barHideOnTapGestureRecognizer property. This means that you can use the gesture delegate methods to use your own gesture recognizers in concert with this ‘global’ tap recognizer.

Tapping is all well and good, but if you want to provide some UI that the user should be able to interact with via tapping then it won’t be clear whether tapping with hide/reveal the bars, or interact with the content. In this scenario then the swipe gesture might be more appropriate.

Hiding on swipe

In the same way that tapping can show/hide the bars, there is also a built in swipe gesture recognizer to perform exactly the same task. In this instance rather than toggling, a swipe up will hide the bars and a swipe down will reveal them again.

You can enable this behavior using the hidesBarsOnSwipe boolean property, and again you can get hold of the gesture recognizer via the barHideOnSwipeGestureRecognizer property.

Hiding when vertically compact

Clearly a fairly common use case would be to hide the bars when there is a restriction on vertical space. In the new world of adaptive layout this corresponds to having a compact vertical size class. This functionality is again provided as a boolean property in the form of hidesBarsWhenVerticallyCompact. Setting this to true will cause the bars to disappear when the container becomes vertically compact. Note that you can use this together with the tap and swipe properties to get the bars to re-appear in this mode.

Hiding on keyboard appearance

The final mode is controlled by the hidesBarsWhenKeyboardAppears boolean property. Setting this to true will cause the bars to disappear when the keyboard animates on screen. The user can bring the bars back simply by tapping in the content area.

Sample app

The sample app which accompanies this article is incredibly simple. It shows a navigation controller which which has the tap, swipe and compact height properties set to true:

navigationController?.hidesBarsOnSwipe = true
navigationController?.hidesBarsOnTap = true
navigationController?.hidesBarsWhenVerticallyCompact = true

The app will start with the bars visible by default:

Bars visible

Tapping, or swiping upwards will hide these bars:

Bars hidden

If you rotate the iPhone then it’ll transition to a compact vertical size class and so the bars will hide:

Vertically compact

As well as using the properties in code, the Attributes Inspector inside interface builder have some new check boxes to support this new behavior:

IB Check boxes


Short and sweet – this is nice new functionality that’s incredibly simple to use. It has well-understood UX and really adopts the ‘defer to content’ paradigm that was introduced in iOS7.

You can grab today’s sample project from the iOS8 day-by-day github repo on the ShinobiControls github at

You should follow me on Twitter – I’d like that very much. I’m @iwantmyrealname.


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