UILabel subclass which allows tapping on certain substrings/links, powered by NSAttributedStrings.
Switch branches/tags
Nothing to show
Clone or download
Latest commit 369f3e1 Oct 16, 2017
Type Name Latest commit message Commit time
Failed to load latest commit information.
Example More syntax changes Oct 16, 2017
ZSWTappableLabel Update syntax for Xcode 9 Oct 16, 2017
.gitignore Check in Pods for Example May 31, 2015
CHANGELOG.md Docs updates Oct 16, 2017
LICENSE Initial commit May 29, 2015
README.md Docs updates Oct 16, 2017
ZSWTappableLabel.podspec Update podspec Oct 16, 2017
_Pods.xcodeproj Symlink, Podfile update Dec 30, 2015



Version License Platform

ZSWTappableLabel is a UILabel subclass powered by NSAttributedStrings which allows you to tap or long-press on certain regions, with optional highlight behavior. It does not draw text itself and executes a minimal amount of code unless the user is interacting with a tappable region.

A basic, tappable link

Let's create a string that's entirely tappable and shown with an underline:

let string = NSLocalizedString("Privacy Policy", comment: "")
let attributes: [NSAttributedStringKey: Any] = [
  .tappableRegion: true,
  .tappableHighlightedBackgroundColor: UIColor.lightGray,
  .tappableHighlightedForegroundColor: UIColor.white,
  .foregroundColor: UIColor.blue,
  .underlineStyle: NSUnderlineStyle.styleSingle.rawValue,
  .link: URL(string: "http://imgur.com/gallery/VgXCk")!

label.attributedText = NSAttributedString(string: string, attributes: attributes)
NSString *s = NSLocalizedString(@"Privacy Policy", nil);
NSDictionary *a = @{
  ZSWTappableLabelTappableRegionAttributeName: @YES,
  ZSWTappableLabelHighlightedBackgroundAttributeName: [UIColor lightGrayColor],
  ZSWTappableLabelHighlightedForegroundAttributeName: [UIColor whiteColor],
  NSForegroundColorAttributeName: [UIColor blueColor],
  NSUnderlineStyleAttributeName: @(NSUnderlineStyleSingle),
  NSLinkAttributeName: [NSURL URLWithString:@"http://imgur.com/gallery/VgXCk"],

label.attributedText = [[NSAttributedString alloc] initWithString:s attributes:a];

This results in a label which renders like:

Privacy Policy

Setting your controller as the tapDelegate of the label results in the following method call when tapped:

func tappableLabel(_ tappableLabel: ZSWTappableLabel, tappedAt idx: Int, withAttributes attributes: [NSAttributedStringKey : Any]) {
  if let url = attributes[.link] as? URL {
- (void)tappableLabel:(ZSWTappableLabel *)tappableLabel
       withAttributes:(NSDictionary<NSAttributedStringKey, id> *)attributes {
  [[UIApplication sharedApplication] openURL:attributes[@"URL"]];


You may optionally support long-presses by setting a longPressDelegate on the label. This behaves very similarly to the tapDelegate:

func tappableLabel(_ tappableLabel: ZSWTappableLabel, longPressedAt idx: Int, withAttributes attributes: [NSAttributedStringKey : Any]) {
  guard let URL = attributes[.link] as? URL else {
  let activityController = UIActivityViewController(activityItems: [URL], applicationActivities: nil)
  present(activityController, animated: true, completion: nil)
- (void)tappableLabel:(ZSWTappableLabel *)tappableLabel 
       withAttributes:(NSDictionary<NSAttributedStringKey, id> *)attributes {
  NSURL *URL = attributes[NSLinkAttributeName];
  if ([URL isKindOfClass:[NSURL class]]) {
    UIActivityViewController *activityController = [[UIActivityViewController alloc] initWithActivityItems:@[ URL ] applicationActivities:nil];
    [self presentViewController:activityController animated:YES completion:nil];

You can configure the longPressDuration for how long until a long-press is recognized. This defaults to 0.5 seconds.

Data detectors

Let's use NSDataDetector to find the substrings in a given string that we might want to turn into links:

let string = "check google.com or call 415-555-5555? how about friday at 5pm?"

let detector = try! NSDataDetector(types: NSTextCheckingAllSystemTypes)
let attributedString = NSMutableAttributedString(string: string, attributes: nil)
let range = NSRange(location: 0, length: (string as NSString).length)

detector.enumerateMatches(in: attributedString.string, options: [], range: range) { (result, flags, _) in
  guard let result = result else { return }
  var attributes = [NSAttributedStringKey: Any]()
  attributes[.tappableRegion] = true
  attributes[.tappableHighlightedBackgroundColor] = UIColor.lightGray
  attributes[.tappableHighlightedForegroundColor] = UIColor.white
  attributes[.underlineStyle] = NSUnderlineStyle.styleSingle.rawValue
  attributes[.init(rawValue: "NSTextCheckingResult")] = result
  attributedString.addAttributes(attributes, range: result.range)
label.attributedText = attributedString
NSString *string = @"check google.com or call 415-555-5555? how about friday at 5pm?";

NSDataDetector *detector = [NSDataDetector dataDetectorWithTypes:NSTextCheckingAllSystemTypes error:NULL];
NSMutableAttributedString *attributedString = [[NSMutableAttributedString alloc] initWithString:string attributes:nil];
// the next line throws an exception if string is nil - make sure you check
[detector enumerateMatchesInString:string options:0 range:NSMakeRange(0, string.length) usingBlock:^(NSTextCheckingResult *result, NSMatchingFlags flags, BOOL *stop) {
  NSMutableDictionary *attributes = [NSMutableDictionary dictionary];
  attributes[ZSWTappableLabelTappableRegionAttributeName] = @YES;
  attributes[ZSWTappableLabelHighlightedBackgroundAttributeName] = [UIColor lightGrayColor];
  attributes[ZSWTappableLabelHighlightedForegroundAttributeName] = [UIColor whiteColor];
  attributes[NSUnderlineStyleAttributeName] = @(NSUnderlineStyleSingle);
  attributes[@"NSTextCheckingResult"] = result;
  [attributedString addAttributes:attributes range:result.range];
label.attributedText = attributedString;

This results in a label which renders like:

check google.com or call 415-555-5555? how about friday at 5pm?

We can wire up the tapDelegate to receive the checking result and handle each result type when the user taps on the link:

func tappableLabel(tappableLabel: ZSWTappableLabel, tappedAtIndex idx: Int, withAttributes attributes: [NSAttributedStringKey : Any]) {
  if let result = attributes[.init(rawValue: "NSTextCheckingResult")] as? NSTextCheckingResult {
    switch result.resultType {
    case [.address]:
      print("Address components: \(result.addressComponents)")
    case [.phoneNumber]:
      print("Phone number: \(result.phoneNumber)")
    case [.date]:
      print("Date: \(result.date)")
    case [.link]:
      print("Link: \(result.url)")
- (void)tappableLabel:(ZSWTappableLabel *)tappableLabel
       withAttributes:(NSDictionary<NSAttributedStringKey, id> *)attributes {
  NSTextCheckingResult *result = attributes[@"NSTextCheckingResult"];
  if (result) {
    switch (result.resultType) {
      case NSTextCheckingTypeAddress:
        NSLog(@"Address components: %@", result.addressComponents);
      case NSTextCheckingTypePhoneNumber:
        NSLog(@"Phone number: %@", result.phoneNumber);
      case NSTextCheckingTypeDate:
        NSLog(@"Date: %@", result.date);
      case NSTextCheckingTypeLink:
        NSLog(@"Link: %@", result.URL);


Substring linking

For substring linking, I suggest you use ZSWTaggedString which creates these attributed strings painlessly and localizably. Let's create a more advanced 'privacy policy' link using this library:

View our Privacy Policy or Terms of Service

You can create such a string using a simple ZSWTaggedString:

let options = ZSWTaggedStringOptions()
options["link"] = .dynamic({ tagName, tagAttributes, stringAttributes in
  guard let type = tagAttributes["type"] as? String else {
    return [NSAttributedStringKey: AnyObject]()
  var foundURL: URL?
  switch type {
  case "privacy":
    foundURL = URL(string: "http://google.com/search?q=privacy")!
  case "tos":
    foundURL = URL(string: "http://google.com/search?q=tos")!
  guard let URL = foundURL else {
    return [NSAttributedStringKey: AnyObject]()
  return [
    .tappableRegion: true,
    .tappableHighlightedBackgroundColor: UIColor.lightGray,
    .tappableHighlightedForegroundColor: UIColor.white,
    .foregroundColor: UIColor.blue,
    .underlineStyle: NSUnderlineStyle.styleSingle.rawValue,
    .link: foundURL

let string = NSLocalizedString("View our <link type='privacy'>Privacy Policy</link> or <link type='tos'>Terms of Service</link>", comment: "")
label.attributedText = try? ZSWTaggedString(string: string).attributedString(with: options)
ZSWTaggedStringOptions *options = [ZSWTaggedStringOptions options];
[options setDynamicAttributes:^NSDictionary *(NSString *tagName, 
                                              NSDictionary *tagAttributes,
                                              NSDictionary *existingStringAttributes) {
  if ([tagAttributes[@"type"] isEqualToString:@"privacy"]) {
    URL = [NSURL URLWithString:@"http://google.com/search?q=privacy"];
  } else if ([tagAttributes[@"type"] isEqualToString:@"tos"]) {
    URL = [NSURL URLWithString:@"http://google.com/search?q=tos"];

  if (!URL) {
    return nil;

  return @{
    ZSWTappableLabelTappableRegionAttributeName: @YES,
    ZSWTappableLabelHighlightedBackgroundAttributeName: [UIColor lightGrayColor],
    ZSWTappableLabelHighlightedForegroundAttributeName: [UIColor whiteColor],
    NSForegroundColorAttributeName: [UIColor blueColor],
    NSUnderlineStyleAttributeName: @(NSUnderlineStyleSingle),
    @"URL": URL
} forTagName:@"link"];

NSString *string = NSLocalizedString(@"View our <link type='privacy'>Privacy Policy</link> or <link type='tos'>Terms of Service</link>", nil);
label.attributedText = [[ZSWTaggedString stringWithString:string] attributedStringWithOptions:options];


ZSWTappableLabel is an accessibility container, which exposes the substrings in your attributed string as distinct elements. For example, the above string breaks down into:

  1. View our (static text)
  2. Privacy Policy (link)
  3. or (static text)
  4. Terms of Service (link)

When you set a longPressDelegate, an additional action on links is added to perform the long-press gesture. You should configure the longPressAccessibilityActionName to adjust what is read to users.

Interaction with gesture recognizers

ZSWTappableLabel uses gesture recognizers internally and works well with other gesture recognizers:

  • If there are no tappable regions, internal gesture recognizers are disabled.
  • If a touch occurs within a tappable region, all other gesture recognizers are failed if the label is interested in them.
  • If a touch occurs outside a tappable region, internal gesture recognizers fail themselves.

For example, if you place a UITapGestureRecognizer on the label, it will only fire when the user does not interact with a tappable region.


ZSWTappableLabel is available through CocoaPods. To install it, simply add the following line to your Podfile:

pod "ZSWTappableLabel", "~> 2.0"


ZSWTappableLabel is available under the MIT license. This library was created while working on Free who allowed this to be open-sourced.