123 123 - 3 months ago 17
iOS Question

iOS automatically add hyphen in text field

I'm learning iOS development and am having a hard time figuring out the various events for the controls. For a test I have a UITextField where the user is meant to input a string in the format: XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX

I want to be able to check how long the text in the field is after each entry and see if it needs to have a hyphen appended to it. I've set up my IBAction function for this but when I assign it to the "Value Changed" event it does nothing, it works fine when I set it on the "Editing Did End" but that will only call when the user exits the control.

Edit: Just to add, the "Editing Changed" event causes it to crash too. I assume this is a stack overflow or something where the setting of the text calls the event handler again.

So in short, is there any way to set an event handler for each time the user enters a character in the UITextField?


Be aware the previous answer is woefully inadequate. Heaven forbid your user enter an incorrect digit and dare attempt to delete it! In fairness, the poster noted the code may not work perfectly. But then, it wouldn't even compile, so the buyer beware filter should already be high. If you fix the compile error and try the code, you'll see you can easily end up with input that does not match the poster's stated format.

Here's a solution I've used for restricting a text field to a phone number of the format 123-456-7890. Adjusting for other numeric formats is trivial. Note the use of the passed NSRange. And BTW, rejecting non-digit characters is needed even when using a numeric virtual keyboard since users can still enter non-digits via a hardware keyboard.

One other note. I add the hyphen after the entry of the 4th and 7th digits to make the deleting of digits a bit easier. If you add after the 3rd and 6th digits, you will have to handle the case of deleting the dangling hyphen. The code below avoids that use case.

// Restrict entry to format 123-456-7890
- (BOOL)                textField:(UITextField *)textField
                replacementString:(NSString *)string {

  // All digits entered
  if (range.location == 12) {
    return NO;

  // Reject appending non-digit characters
  if (range.length == 0 &&
       ![[NSCharacterSet decimalDigitCharacterSet] characterIsMember:[string characterAtIndex:0]]) {
    return NO;

  // Auto-add hyphen before appending 4rd or 7th digit
  if (range.length == 0 &&
      (range.location == 3 || range.location == 7)) {
    textField.text = [NSString stringWithFormat:@"%@-%@", textField.text, string];
    return NO;

  // Delete hyphen when deleting its trailing digit 
  if (range.length == 1 &&
      (range.location == 4 || range.location == 8))  {
    range.length = 2;
    textField.text = [textField.text stringByReplacingCharactersInRange:range withString:@""];
    return NO;

  return YES;