A Xcode plugin to add highlight to the instances of selected symbol.


Auto Highlight Symbol

About Xcode 8

Xcode 8 does't support plugins anymore, but there is a workaround, use at your own risk.

Xcode can highlight instances of selected symbol, but what it does is to add dash lines under the instances, which is hard to be noticed.

AutoHighlightSymbol is a plugin for Xcode, it adds background highlight color to those instances. It's super useful while you're tracing codes, especially when you want to figure out where a specific variable is used in a certain method.

You're welcome to improve it and send me pull requests.



  • Use Alcatraz to install and manage plugins, or

  • Download the sources, build the project and restart Xcode.

  • If you encounter any issues you can uninstall it by removing the ~/Library/Application Support/Developer/Shared/Xcode/Plug-ins/AutoHighlightSymbol.xcplugin folder.


  • You need to enable Highlight instances of selected symbol option first from Xcode preferences -> Text Editing.

  • If it doesn't appear in your Xcode menu, read this wiki document for more information.

  • After installation, you need to enable it from Xcode [Editor] -> [Auto Highlight Symbol] menu.


  • Integrate into Alcatraz
  • Better highlight detection mechanism
  • Better highlight rendering mechanism


If you need more functionalities, you should give HighlightSelectedString a try.


AutoHighlightSymbol is available under the MIT license. See the LICENSE file for more info.


Any suggestions or improvements are more than welcome. Feel free to contact me at [email protected] or @NelsonT.


AutoHighlightSymbol cannot be done without these great plugins.

And these great articles.

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  • Does not highlight symbols when using #if statements

    Does not highlight symbols when using #if statements

    I've got a bunch of code that I block out using statements like:






    It seems that the plugin randomly misses out on symbols that are in fact 'active'.

    opened by guidedways 1
  • Crashes when selecting Highlight color

    Crashes when selecting Highlight color

    When I open to select the highlight color, if I change the color 3 times, the 4th time it crashes.

    Xcode 7.2

    Process:               Xcode [62764]
    Path:                  /Applications/Xcode.app/Contents/MacOS/Xcode
    Identifier:            com.apple.dt.Xcode
    Version:               7.2 (9548)
    Build Info:            IDEFrameworks-9548000000000000~7
    App Item ID:           497799835
    App External ID:       814662604
    Code Type:             X86-64 (Native)
    Parent Process:        ??? [1]
    Responsible:           Xcode [62764]
    User ID:               501
    Date/Time:             2015-12-17 10:14:22.458 -0500
    OS Version:            Mac OS X 10.11.2 (15C50)
    Report Version:        11
    Anonymous UUID:        B65A2B8D-A1AB-4A11-95D4-BEF6954E30E5
    Sleep/Wake UUID:       35E80280-4AA8-4E71-ABEE-C13853DB9E92
    Time Awake Since Boot: 230000 seconds
    Time Since Wake:       2700 seconds
    System Integrity Protection: enabled
    Crashed Thread:        0  Dispatch queue: com.apple.main-thread
    Exception Type:        EXC_CRASH (SIGABRT)
    Exception Codes:       0x0000000000000000, 0x0000000000000000
    Exception Note:        EXC_CORPSE_NOTIFY
    Application Specific Information:
    Sending colorPanelColorDidChange: to <AutoHighlightSymbol: 0x7fe1987d0980> from <NSColorPanel: 0x7fe19b2c0870>
    ProductBuildVersion: 7C68
    UNCAUGHT EXCEPTION (NSInvalidArgumentException): *** -getRed:green:blue:alpha: not valid for the NSColor NSCalibratedWhiteColorSpace 1 1; need to first convert colorspace.
    UserInfo: (null)
      0: Sending colorPanelColorDidChange: to <AutoHighlightSymbol: 0x7fe1987d0980> from <NSColorPanel: 0x7fe19b2c0870>
      0  0x00007fff96d20aca __exceptionPreprocess (in CoreFoundation)
      1  0x0000000104e00c67 DVTFailureHintExceptionPreprocessor (in DVTFoundation)
      2  0x00007fff8781773c objc_exception_throw (in libobjc.A.dylib)
      3  0x00007fff96d2098d +[NSException raise:format:] (in CoreFoundation)
      4  0x000000011568a59c -[AutoHighlightSymbol colorPanelColorDidChange:] at /Users/gmogames/Library/Application Support/Alcatraz/Plug-ins/AutoHighlightSymbol/AutoHighlightSymbol/AutoHighlightSymbol.m:154 (in AutoHighlightSymbol)
    opened by gmogames 1
  • Enable the Auto Hight Symbol feature after installation

    Enable the Auto Hight Symbol feature after installation

    Spec suggestion

    After installing the extension, the feature in the Editor -> Auto Hight Symbol is not checked initially. Set the default return value of [AutoHighlightSymbol isEnabled] to YES so the developer can enjoy this feature instantly after she installs this extension.

    opened by danielbas 0
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