Quick and easy image caching for UITableViews

PicSlide uses a table that lets you choose a picture to play with. For each picture it shows a thumbnail. When the thumbnails are loaded from the application’s resources, you don’t have to be too concerned with image loading time.However, when I load those thumbnails from the web, as I do now with the Magic Panda, scrolling the table can become extremely slow.

Previously, I was loading the thumbnail directly from my table data source’s cellForRowAtIndexPath: method.

- (UITableViewCell *)tableView:(UITableView *)tableView cellForRowAtIndexPath:(NSIndexPath *)indexPath {
    static NSString *CellIdentifier = @"tvCell";

    UITableViewCell *cell = [tableView dequeueReusableCellWithIdentifier:CellIdentifier];
    if (cell == nil) {
        [[NSBundle mainBundle] loadNibNamed:@"tvCell" owner:self options:nil];
        cell = tvCell;
        self.tvCell = nil;
    NSString *url = [picUrls objectAtIndex: indexPath.row];
    UIImageView *img = (UIImageView*)[cell viewWithTag: 2];
    img.image = [UIImage imageWithData: [NSData dataWithContentsOfURL:[NSURL URLWithString: url]]];

If you don’t have too many rows, a NSMutableDictionary makes a quick & easy image cache. I simply added one method to implement image caching:

NSMutableDictonary *imageCache;

- (UIImage *)getCachedImage: (NSString*)url
    UIImage* theImage = [imageCache objectForKey:url];
    if ((nil != theImage) && [theImage isKindOfClass:[UIImage class]]) {
        return theImage;
    else {
        theImage = [UIImage imageWithData: [NSData dataWithContentsOfURL:[NSURL URLWithString: url]]];
        [imageCache setObject:theImage forKey:url];
        return theImage;

When I load my table, I now call getCachedImage rather than fetching the image directly.

    img.image = [self getCachedImage: url];

The result can be seen below:

4 responses to “Quick and easy image caching for UITableViews

  1. Hi,

    Thank you for sharing this code. I have about the same solution. Because you can not cache all images i created a circular list. For example after 500 images the next images will be cached at index 0 and up

  2. Hi! I'm missing something. Is picUrls an attay? Where is it set?

  3. Hello! I'm missing something. Is picUrls an array? Where is it set and so on?

  4. Checkout UIImageLoader. I put this together for this exact situation. It gives you callbacks to properly handle cached images, showing loaders, and handling completed requests. It's only two files to add to xcode and you get disk / memory cache. With more control over server cache control headers. https://github.com/gngrwzrd/UIImageLoader

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