How to get UITextField text editing changed events for user input validation - Swift Tips 1

Do you need to get the text input as the user types in a text field in your iPhone app?

You might have tried to use the UITextFieldDelegate only to find it's the wrong place to look.

You need to setup the Target/Action for the UITextField Editing Changed event (not to be confused with the Value Changed event).

Swift 4 and Xcode 9 Breaking Changes

Keep reading below to learn how to fix common crashes from old Xcode projects.

If you're trying to type code from Swift 2, it won't work. If you're following old tutorials (like the original video linked), it also won't work exactly as I demonstrated in 2015. See the proper code for Xcode 9 and Swift 4 down below.

Xcode Project

Download the Xcode project from the Swift Tips Course

UITextField Text Editing Changed Tutorial

1 - Make a UITextField connection from UI to code

In the Assistant Editor (Venn Diagram icon in the top right) you need to drag an Action connection from your UI to your code. You can right-click or two-finger click on the trackpad and drag.


  1. Right-click and drag from the UITextField to your ViewController.swift code file
  2. Change the dropdown from Outlet to Action.
  3. Choose Editing Changed
  4. Type a method name: textFieldEditingDidChange

2 - Connect Outlets for the text field

Drag over connections for the UITextField, and you can use the textField.text property to get it’s value.

@IBOutlet weak var button: UIButton!
@IBOutlet weak var textField: UITextField!

override func viewDidLoad() {

    // disable button
    button.isEnabled = false

3 - Validate the input as the user types in the UITextField

You can print out the text as the user types it for testing. 

Your app logic should do some kind of validation, which you can refactor into it’s own method called validatePassword().

As a simple example, just enable or disable the button based on your validation logic, and you can make sure it works.

@IBAction func textFieldEditingDidChange(_ sender: Any) {
    print("textField: \(textField.text!)")

    if validatePassword(textField.text!) {
        // correct password
        button.isEnabled = true
    } else {
        button.isEnabled = false

func validatePassword(text: String) -> Bool {
    var result = false
    // test password
    if text == "Secret!" {
        result = true
    return result

@IBAction func buttonPressed(_ sender: Any) {
  print("You may enter")
  view.backgroundColor =

Swift 4 and Xcode 9 Breaking Changes

If you're running into crashes with typing old Swift code in Xcode 9, or you can't figure out why an old Swift 2 project isn't working it's most likely because Apple changed the naming convention for functions in Swift 3. And if you're following old code, you'll run into lots of errors trying to get it to work.

You'll see errors like this one:

2018-03-13 10:50:31.696398-0400 TextFieldChanged[44045:8613229] -[TextFieldChanged.ViewController textFieldEditingDidChange:]: unrecognized selector sent to instance 0x7ff76e41cd20

2018-03-13 10:50:31.702694-0400 TextFieldChanged[44045:8613229] *** Terminating app due to uncaught exception 'NSInvalidArgumentException', reason: '-[TextFieldChanged.ViewController textFieldEditingDidChange:]: unrecognized selector sent to instance 0x7ff76e41cd20'

change your selector code from Swift 2 code to be Swift 4+ compatible.

Swift 3 changed this in Swift Evolution 0046 and unfortunately it's a breaking code change that will cause a lot of crashing if you don't get it right.

// Swift 2

@IBAction func textFieldEditingDidChange(sender: AnyObject)
@IBAction func buttonPressed(sender: AnyObject)

// Swift 4

@IBAction func textFieldEditingDidChange(_ sender: Any)
@IBAction func buttonPressed(_ sender: Any)

1. In the past the first parameter label "sender" had been optional for single parameter methods, but now it's required, so that means all function signatures have changed to use `_` for an unnamed parameter.

2. You'll also see `AnyObject` is now `Any`.

Making these two changes will make your selectors work again.

Programmatically Add Selectors for UITextFieldChanged Events 

The code to work with selector's has changed from Selector("buttonPressed") to #selector(buttonPressed) in Swift 3+ from Swift Evolution 0022.

Here's the old syntax and the new syntax. And if the first parameter is un-named, you can omit the parenthesis.

// Swift 2
textField.addTarget(self, action: Selector("textFieldEditingDidChange:"), for: UIControlEvents.editingChanged)

// Swift 4 (you can omit the parenthesis)
textField.addTarget(self, action: #selector(textFieldEditingDidChange), for: UIControlEvents.editingChanged)

// Swift 4 (you can specify the parameters using (_:) since the label is now _ in Swift 4)
textField.addTarget(self, action: #selector(textFieldEditingDidChange(_:)), for: UIControlEvents.editingChanged)