[iOS] How to limit character input in UIAlertView UITextField

When you initialize the alert view:

[[alertView textFieldAtIndex:0] setDelegate:self];

Now, self here is your view controller. So you need to add <UITextFieldDelegate> to its declaration.

Now implement the delegate method:

- (BOOL)textField:(UITextField *)textField shouldChangeCharactersInRange:(NSRange)range replacementString:(NSString *)string
    NSUInteger newLength = [textField.text length] + [string length] - range.length;
    return (newLength > self.maxAlertTextFieldLength) ? NO : YES;

This is taken from this answer, linked answer in the comments.


While the UITextField class has no max length property, it’s relatively simple to get this functionality by setting the text field’s delegate and implementing the following delegate method:


- (BOOL)textField:(UITextField *)textField shouldChangeCharactersInRange:(NSRange)range replacementString:(NSString *)string {
    // Prevent crashing undo bug – see note below.
    if(range.length + range.location > textField.text.length)
        return NO;

    NSUInteger newLength = [textField.text length] + [string length] - range.length;
    return newLength <= 25;


func textField(textField: UITextField, shouldChangeCharactersInRange range: NSRange, replacementString string: String) -> Bool {

    let currentCharacterCount = textField.text?.characters.count ?? 0
    if (range.length + range.location > currentCharacterCount){
        return false
    let newLength = currentCharacterCount + string.characters.count - range.length
    return newLength <= 25

Before the text field changes, the UITextField asks the delegate if the specified text should be changed. The text field has not changed at this point, so we grab it’s current length and the string length we’re inserting, minus the range length. If this value is too long (more than 25 characters in this example), return NO to prohibit the change.

When typing in a single character at the end of a text field, the range.location will be the current field’s length, and range.length will be 0 because we’re not replacing/deleting anything. Inserting into the middle of a text field just means a different range.location, and pasting multiple characters just means string has more than one character in it.

Deleting single characters or cutting multiple characters is specified by a range with a non-zero length, and an empty string. Replacement is just a range deletion with a non-empty string.

A note on the crashing “undo” bug

As is mentioned in the comments, there is a bug with UITextField that can lead to a crash.

If you paste in to the field, but the paste is prevented by your validation implementation, the paste operation is still recorded in the application’s undo buffer. If you then fire an undo (by shaking the device and confirming an Undo), the UITextField will attempt to replace the string it thinks it pasted in to itself with an empty string. This will crash because it never actually pasted the string in to itself. It will try to replace a part of the string that doesn’t exist.

Fortunately you can protect the UITextField from killing itself like this. You just need to ensure that the range it proposes to replace does exist within its current string. This is what the initial sanity check above does.




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