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Properties and Access Control

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Access Control

Access control specifies which methods and properties can be accessed from outside that scope of a structure, file, or module. Access control makes it possible to hide implementation details and protect properties from being changed at unexpected times.

Access Levels

Swift provides several different levels of access. From least restrictive to most restrictive they are:

  • open / public
  • internal
  • fileprivate
  • private
// public structures can be accessed in other modules
public struct User {
// internal is the default level of access control
let name: String
// fileprivate methods can only be accessed inside of the file they're declared in
fileprivate func incrementVisitCount() {
visitCount += 1
// private properties can only be accessed inside their structure's definition
private let visitCount = 0

Private Properties and Methods

Mark methods and properties as private to prevent them from being accessed outside of the structure, class, or enumeration’s definition.

struct User {
let name: String
init(name: String) { = name
private func uploadNewUser() {
print("Uploading the new user...")

Read-only Computed Properties

Read-only computed properties can be accessed, but not assigned to a new value. To define a read-only computed property, either use the get keyword without a set keyword, or omit keywords entirely.

struct Room {
let width: Double
let height: Double
var squareFeet: Double {
return width * height
var description: String {
get {
return "This room is \(width) x \(height)"

Property Observers

Property observers execute code whenever a property is changed. The willSet property observer is triggered right before the property is changed and creates a newValue variable within the block’s scope. The didSet property observer is triggered right after the property is changed and creates an oldValue within the block’s scope.

struct Employee {
var hourlyWage = 15 {
willSet {
print("The hourly wage is about to be changed from \(hourlyWage) to \(newValue)")
didSet {
print("The hourly wage has been changed from \(oldValue) to \(hourlyWage)")
var codey = Employee()
codey.hourlyWage = 20
// Prints:
// The hourly wage is about to be changed from 15 to 20
// The hourly wage has been changed from 15 to 20

Private Setters

Properties marked as private(set) can be accessed from outside the scope of its structure, but only assigned within it. This allows the setter to be more restrictive than the getter.

struct User {
private(set) var name: String
mutating func updateName(to newName: String) {
if newName != "" {
name = newName
var currentUser = User(name: "codey")
currentUser.updateName(to: "Codey")
// = "Bob" // This line doesn't compile because the 'name' setter is inaccessible

Static Properties and Methods

The static keyword is used to declare type methods and properties. These are accessed from the type itself rather than an instance.

struct User {
static var allUsers = [User]()
let id: Int
init(id: Int) { = id
let userOne = User(id: 1)
let userTwo = User(id: 2)
let userThree = User(id: 3)
print(User.allUsers) // Prints: [User(id: 1), User(id: 2), User(id: 3)]


The extension keyword is used to continue defining an existing class, structure, or enumeration from anywhere in a codebase. Extensions can have new methods, internal types, and computed properties, but can’t contain new stored properties.

struct User {
let name: String
extension User {
var description: String {
return "This is a user named \(name)"