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iPhone Programming: Set UITableView Accessory Arrow Style

The iPhone SDK provides an easy-to-code standard for creating consistent user interfaces. The UITableView class is used in many iPhone applications. Most applications that present information to you in rows that you can tap to slide a new page over to see details use a UITableView to do the magic. Once you have a UITableView setup, you can easily add the little accessory arrow icons to the right side of the table cells by following the steps in this Tech-Recipe.

At this point, you need to have a working UITableView-based application. If you aren’t at this point, you’ll need to take a few steps back and check with the official Apple iPhone SDK documentation.

The simplest case is adding an accessory icon to the right of all cells in the table. To do this, edit the source file of the table view you want to change and add the following method:

- (UITableViewCellAccessoryType)tableView:(UITableView *)tv accessoryTypeForRowWithIndexPath:(NSIndexPath *)indexPath
   return UITableViewCellAccessoryDetailDisclosureButton;

Yeah, that’s a keyboard-full, but it’s not that bad. Because your table view class is the delegate of your actual table view, implementing this method of the UITableViewController class will automatically affect the cells in your table. No other changes are needed to make this work. Very cool.

If you don’t want to show the accessory image for every cell in the table, you’ll need to implement some logic in this method that takes the NSIndexPath parameter (which tells you which row in which section is being asked about) and responds appropriately.

There are three standard accessory images that can be used by this method. Each image is shown below with the matching UITableViewCellAccessoryType (the example uses shows a Disclosure indicator image because it returns UITableViewCellAccessoryDisclosureIndicator.

Disclosure indicator

Used to indicate that tapping the cell will slide in a new table view one level down in the hierarchy.

Detail disclosure button

This button indicates that tapping the cell will reveal a detail view of that item.


Indicates that a row has been selected by the user.


This is the default value for the cell accessory indicating that no accessory should be shown.

This isn’t a brain surgery level Tech-Recipe and this information is, of course, covered in the official documentation, but I keep forgetting the method name and knew it would be easier to lookup here than in the docs. I hope someone else finds it helpful, too.

Quinn McHenry
Quinn McHenry
Quinn was one of the original co-founders of Tech-Recipes. He is currently crafting iOS applications as a senior developer at Small Planet Digital in Brooklyn, New York.


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