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How to run code when your app launches

Paul Hudson    @twostraws   

Updated for Xcode 14.2

When you’re using the SwiftUI App life cycle, your app launches through one struct that conforms to the App protocol. Its job is to create your initial view using either WindowGroup, DocumentGroup, or similar, but because its created before any of your actual views this is the perfect place for running code when your app launches.

For example, if you wanted to set up some initial UserDefaults values, your app’s initializer is a great place to call register(defaults:). This method sets up default defaults, by which I mean initial values for UserDefaults values that exist only until you set them – as soon as you provide a value of your own, these aren’t used any more, and these initial values also disappear when your app is terminated so you should call it every launch just to make sure.

So, we might write something like this:

struct ExampleApp: App {
    // register initial UserDefaults values every launch
    init() {
        UserDefaults.standard.register(defaults: [
            "name": "Taylor Swift",
            "highScore": 10

    var body: some Scene {
        WindowGroup {

That initializer() is run before the body property is called, so it’s also before ContentView is called. As a result, any places where you read UserDefaults in ContentView will already have your defaults in place.

To demonstrate this, here’s an example ContentView struct that uses @AppStorage to read the “name” key:

struct ContentView: View {
    @AppStorage("name") var name = "Anonymous"

    var body: some View {
        Text("Your name is \(name).")

Download this as an Xcode project

The text “Your name is Taylor Swift.”.

Using @AppStorage requires that we give our property an initial value, which is cumbersome because we need to ensure we have the same initial value everywhere the property is used.

However, here it doesn’t matter: “Anonymous” will only be used for times when no value exists, and no initial defaults have been registered. We already called register(defaults:) in our app’s initializer, so this view will show “Your name is Taylor Swift.”

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