What is Action Bar?

In this post, I will walk you through an important Android UI component – Action Bar. You will also find list of useful posts on Action Bar tutorial following this post. Before we start creating Action Bar, we should know What is Acton Bar and its uses.

Let us begin.

What is Action Bar?

  1. Action Bar is an Android UI component which occupies dedicated space on top of Applications.
  2. Action Bar is a window feature which provides User actions and Navigation modes.

Action Bar

Action Bar – Key Functions

  • Makes important actions prominent and accessible in a predictable way.
  • Supports consistent navigation and view switching within apps.
  • Reduces clumsy look of Action buttons by providing an action overflow for rarely used actions.
  • Provides a dedicated space for giving your app an identity. Identity denotes Application name and Logo./li>

How Action Bar is organized?

The Action Bar in Android is split into four functional areas and they are shown below:
ActionBar Organization

    1. Application IconThe application icon denotes the application’s identity. Application icon shows up the ‘Up’ navigation with which User can navigate up the hierarchy.
    2. View Control

If your app displays content in different views, this segment of the action bar allows users to switch views. Examples of view-switching controls are drop-down menus.
In GMail Android Application, you can see View control as shown below which facilitates User to move from one GMail to Another.
ActionBar View Control

  1. Action ButtonsShow most important or frequent actions of the application in the actions section so that Users will be able to access it with much ease. Actions that don’t fit in Action Bar will move to Action overflow.In WhatsApp Android application, Search and New Chat functionalities are added as Action buttons in Action bar. Take a look here:
    Action Bar Action Buttons
  2. Action overflowLess often used actions are moved to Action overflow. Also actions that don’t fit in Action Bar are moved to Action overflow.
    Action Bar Overflow
    The overflow icon only appears on phones that have no menu hardware keys. Phones with menu keys display the action overflow when the user presses the key.

Action Bar – Layout Consideration

Action Bar Layout Consideration
It is always better idea to split Action Bar into multiple Bars within the View so that User will be able to access them with much ease. There will be enough room to accommodate multiple Actions buttons based on different category.

When splitting up content across multiple action bars, you generally have three possible locations for action bar content:

1. Main action bar
It occupies top space of the Application which allow user to navigate up the hierarchy from a given screen, the main action bar contains the up caret (<) with which User can navigate Up screen in the hierarchy.
2. Top bar
Top bar displays tabs which allow the user to quickly switch between the views present in the application.
Bottom bar
Bottom bar displays most often performed actions and the actions that don’t fit will move to overflow.

Actions Buttons – Usage

  • Action buttons play vital role in show casing the important actions that can be performed within the Application.
  • You can download icon package from here which are suitable for Applications.
  • Think about how and in which order the Action buttons will be organized based on the FIT scheme.
  • Frequent – Important – Typical scheme helps developers in placing Action buttons in a order.
  • Frequent – Will Users use this action several times?Important – Have this action to be exposed due to its importance?Typical – Other Applications falling under your application’s category using such type of Action buttons?

    If your application’s action falls under either one of the aforementioned category, you must place it on the Action Bar. Move other Actions that don’t fall under FIT scheme into Action overflow.


I strongly believe you learned much about Action Bar from this post. If you feel this article should be shared to your friends, please do share it.


Theory is enough.. Let us create Android application that will have Action Bar. Click below link to take you to Action Bar Tutorial.

Next Tutorial >> How to add Action Bar in Android Applications?


Related Articles

Author: Udhay

Share This Post On
468 ad
Join now to get more access to our Android Tutorials

Join now to get more access to our Android Tutorials

Once you Join, you will receive Mail containing latest Android Tutorials once a month !!

I promise I wont spam you !!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest