Save images in NSUserDefaults?

i0S Swift Issue

Question or problem with Swift language programming:

Is it possible to save images into NSUserDefaults as an object and then retrieve for further use?

How to solve the problem:

Solution 1:


For those who still looking for answer here is code of “advisable” way to save image in NSUserDefaults. You SHOULD NOT save image data directly into NSUserDefaults!

Write data:

// Get image data. Here you can use UIImagePNGRepresentation if you need transparency
NSData *imageData = UIImageJPEGRepresentation(image, 1);

// Get image path in user's folder and store file with name image_CurrentTimestamp.jpg (see documentsPathForFileName below)
NSString *imagePath = [self documentsPathForFileName:[NSString stringWithFormat:@"image_%f.jpg", [NSDate timeIntervalSinceReferenceDate]]];

// Write image data to user's folder
[imageData writeToFile:imagePath atomically:YES];

// Store path in NSUserDefaults
[[NSUserDefaults standardUserDefaults] setObject:imagePath forKey:kPLDefaultsAvatarUrl];

// Sync user defaults
[[NSUserDefaults standardUserDefaults] synchronize];

Read data:

NSString *imagePath = [[NSUserDefaults standardUserDefaults] objectForKey:kPLDefaultsAvatarUrl];
if (imagePath) {
    self.avatarImageView.image = [UIImage imageWithData:[NSData dataWithContentsOfFile:imagePath]];


- (NSString *)documentsPathForFileName:(NSString *)name {
    NSArray *paths = NSSearchPathForDirectoriesInDomains(NSDocumentDirectory, NSUserDomainMask, YES);
    NSString *documentsPath = [paths objectAtIndex:0];

    return [documentsPath stringByAppendingPathComponent:name];

As tmr and DevC mentioned in comments below there is a problem with xcode6/ios8. The difference between xcode5 and xcode 6 installation process is that xcode6 changes apps UUID after each run in xcode (see hightlighted part in path: /var/mobile/Containers/Data/Application/B0D49CF5-8FBE-4F14-87AE-FA8C16A678B1/Documents/image.jpg).

So there are 2 workarounds:

  1. Skip that problem, as once app installed on real device it’s never changes UUID (in fact it does, but it is new app)
  2. Save relative path to required folder (in our case to app’s root)

Here is swift version of code as a bonus (with 2nd approach):

Write data:

let imageData = UIImageJPEGRepresentation(image, 1)
let relativePath = "image_\(NSDate.timeIntervalSinceReferenceDate()).jpg"
let path = self.documentsPathForFileName(relativePath)
imageData.writeToFile(path, atomically: true)
NSUserDefaults.standardUserDefaults().setObject(relativePath, forKey: "path")

Read data:

let possibleOldImagePath = NSUserDefaults.standardUserDefaults().objectForKey("path") as String?
if let oldImagePath = possibleOldImagePath {
    let oldFullPath = self.documentsPathForFileName(oldImagePath)
    let oldImageData = NSData(contentsOfFile: oldFullPath)
    // here is your saved image:
    let oldImage = UIImage(data: oldImageData)


func documentsPathForFileName(name: String) -> String {
    let paths = NSSearchPathForDirectoriesInDomains(.DocumentDirectory, .UserDomainMask, true);
    let path = paths[0] as String;
    let fullPath = path.stringByAppendingPathComponent(name)

    return fullPath

Solution 2:

To save an image in NSUserDefaults:

[[NSUserDefaults standardUserDefaults] setObject:UIImagePNGRepresentation(image) forKey:key];

To retrieve an image from NSUserDefaults:

NSData* imageData = [[NSUserDefaults standardUserDefaults] objectForKey:key];
UIImage* image = [UIImage imageWithData:imageData];

Solution 3:

While it is possible to save a UIImage to NSUserDefaults, it is often not recommended as it is not the most efficient way to save images; a more efficient way is to save your image in the application’s Documents Directory.

For the purpose of this question, I have attached the answer to your question, along with the more efficient way of saving a UIImage.

NSUserDefaults (Not Recommended)

Saving to NSUserDefaults

This method allows you to save any UIImage to NSUserDefaults.

-(void)saveImageToUserDefaults:(UIImage *)image ofType:(NSString *)extension forKey:(NSString *)key {
    NSData * data;

    if ([[extension lowercaseString] isEqualToString:@"png"]) {
        data = UIImagePNGRepresentation(image);
    } else if ([[extension lowercaseString] isEqualToString:@"jpg"]) {
        data = UIImageJPEGRepresentation(image, 1.0);

    NSUserDefaults * userDefaults = [NSUserDefaults standardUserDefaults];
    [userDefaults setObject:data forKey:key];
    [userDefaults synchronize];

This is how you call it:

[self saveImageToUserDefaults:image ofType:@"jpg" forKey:@"myImage"];
[[NSUserDefaults standardUserDefaults] synchronize];

Loading From NSUserDefaults

This method allows you to load any UIImage from NSUserDefaults.

-(UIImage *)loadImageFromUserDefaultsForKey:(NSString *)key {
    NSUserDefaults * userDefaults = [NSUserDefaults standardUserDefaults];
    return [UIImage imageWithData:[userDefaults objectForKey:key]];

This is how you call it:

UIImage * image = [self loadImageFromUserDefaultsForKey:@"myImage"];

A Better Alternative

Saving to Documents Directory

This method allows you to save any UIImage to the Documents Directory within the app.

-(void)saveImage:(UIImage *)image withFileName:(NSString *)imageName ofType:(NSString *)extension inDirectory:(NSString *)directoryPath {
    if ([[extension lowercaseString] isEqualToString:@"png"]) {
        [UIImagePNGRepresentation(image) writeToFile:[directoryPath stringByAppendingPathComponent:[NSString stringWithFormat:@"%@.%@", imageName, @"png"]] options:NSAtomicWrite error:nil];
    } else if ([[extension lowercaseString] isEqualToString:@"jpg"] || [[extension lowercaseString] isEqualToString:@"jpeg"]) {
        [UIImageJPEGRepresentation(image, 1.0) writeToFile:[directoryPath stringByAppendingPathComponent:[NSString stringWithFormat:@"%@.%@", imageName, @"jpg"]] options:NSAtomicWrite error:nil];
    } else {
        NSLog(@"Image Save Failed\nExtension: (%@) is not recognized, use (PNG/JPG)", extension);

This is how you call it:

NSString * documentsDirectory = [NSSearchPathForDirectoriesInDomains(NSDocumentDirectory, NSUserDomainMask, YES) objectAtIndex:0];
[self saveImage:image withFileName:@"Ball" ofType:@"jpg" inDirectory:documentsDirectory];

Loading From Documents Directory

This method allows you to load any UIImage from the application’s Documents Directory.

-(UIImage *)loadImageWithFileName:(NSString *)fileName ofType:(NSString *)extension inDirectory:(NSString *)directoryPath {
    UIImage * result = [UIImage imageWithContentsOfFile:[NSString stringWithFormat:@"%@/%@.%@", directoryPath, fileName, [extension lowercaseString]]];

    return result;

This is how you call it:

NSString * documentsDirectory = [NSSearchPathForDirectoriesInDomains(NSDocumentDirectory, NSUserDomainMask, YES) objectAtIndex:0];
UIImage * image = [self loadImageWithFileName:@"Ball" ofType:@"jpg" inDirectory:documentsDirectory];

A Different Alternative

Saving UIImage to Photo Library

This method allows you to save any UIImage to the device’s Photo Library, and is called as follows:

UIImageWriteToSavedPhotosAlbum(image, nil, nil, nil);

Saving multiple UIImages to Photo Library

This method allows you to save multiple UIImages to the device’s Photo Library.

-(void)saveImagesToPhotoAlbums:(NSArray *)images {
    for (int x = 0; x < [images count]; x++) {
        UIImage * image = [images objectAtIndex:x];

        if (image != nil) UIImageWriteToSavedPhotosAlbum(image, nil, nil, nil);

This is how you call it:

[self saveImagesToPhotoAlbums:images];

Where images is your NSArray composed of UIImages.

Solution 4:

For Swift 4

I almost tried everything in this question but no one is worked for me. and I found my solution.
first I created an extension for UserDefaults like below, then just called get and set methods.

extension UserDefaults {
    func imageForKey(key: String) -> UIImage? {
        var image: UIImage?
        if let imageData = data(forKey: key) {
            image = NSKeyedUnarchiver.unarchiveObject(with: imageData) as? UIImage
        return image
    func setImage(image: UIImage?, forKey key: String) {
        var imageData: NSData?
        if let image = image {
            imageData = NSKeyedArchiver.archivedData(withRootObject: image) as NSData?
        set(imageData, forKey: key)

to set image as background in settingsVC I used code below.

let croppedImage = cropImage(selectedImage, toRect: rect, viewWidth: self.view.bounds.size.width, viewHeight: self.view.bounds.size.width)

imageDefaults.setImage(image: croppedImage, forKey: "imageDefaults")

in mainVC :

let bgImage = imageDefaults.imageForKey(key: "imageDefaults")!

Solution 5:

For swift 2.2

To store:

NSUserDefaults.standardUserDefaults().setObject(UIImagePNGRepresentation(chosenImage), forKey: kKeyImage)

To retrieve:

if let imageData = NSUserDefaults.standardUserDefaults().objectForKey(kKeyImage),
            let image = UIImage(data: imageData as! NSData){
            // use your image here...

Hope this helps!