A powerful image loading and caching system. It makes simple tasks like loading images into views extremely simple, while also supporting advanced features for more demanding apps.

  • Fast LRU memory cache, native HTTP disk cache, and custom aggressive LRU disk cache
  • Progressive image loading (progressive JPEG and WebP)
  • Resumable downloads, request prioritization, deduplication, rate limiting and more
  • Alamofire, WebP, Gifu, FLAnimatedImage extensions
  • RxNuke - RxSwift extensions
  • Automates prefetching with Preheat (deprecated in iOS 10)

Quick Start

Upgrading from the previous version? Use a Migration Guide.

More information is available in Documentation directory and a full API Reference. When you are ready to install Nuke you can follow an Installation Guide - all major package managers are supported.


Load Image into Image View

You can load an image into an image view with a single line of code.

Nuke.loadImage(with: url, into: imageView)

Nuke will automatically load image data, decompress it in the background, store image in memory cache and display it.

To learn more about the ImagePipeline see the dedicated section.

When you request a new image for the view, the previous outstanding request gets canceled and the image is set to nil. The request also gets canceled automatically when the view is deallocated.

func collectionView(_ collectionView: UICollectionView, cellForItemAt indexPath: IndexPath) -> UICollectionViewCell {
    Nuke.loadImage(with: url, into: cell.imageView)

Placeholders, Transitions and More

Use an options parameter (ImageLoadingOptions) to customize the way images are loaded and displayed. You can provide a placeholder, select one of the built-in transitions or provide a custom one.

    with: url,
    options: ImageLoadingOptions(
        placeholder: UIImage(named: "placeholder"),
        transition: .fadeIn(duration: 0.33)
    into: imageView

There is a very common scenario when the placeholder (or the failure image) needs to be displayed with a content mode different from the one used for the loaded image.

let options = ImageLoadingOptions(
    placeholder: UIImage(named: "placeholder"),
    failureImage: UIImage(named: "failure_image"),
    contentModes = .init(
        success: .scaleAspectFill,
        failure: .center,
        placeholder: .center

Nuke.loadImage(with: url, options: options, into: imageView)

To make all image views in the app share the same behavior modify ImageLoadingOptions.shared.

If ImageLoadingOptions are missing a feature that you need, please use ImagePipeline directly. If you think that everyone could benefit from this feature, PRs are welcome.

Image Requests

Each request is represented by an ImageRequest struct. A request can be created either with URL or URLRequest.

var request = ImageRequest(url: url)
// var request = ImageRequest(urlRequest: URLRequest(url: url))

// Change memory cache policy:
request.memoryCacheOptions.isWriteAllowed = false

// Update the request priority:
request.priority = .high

Nuke.loadImage(with: request, into: imageView)

Process an Image

Resize an image using special ImageRequest initializer.

// Target size is in pixels.
ImageRequest(url: url, targetSize: CGSize(width: 640, height: 320), contentMode: .aspectFill)

Perform custom tranformation using processed(key:closure:) method. Her’s how to create a circular avatar using Toucan.

ImageRequest(url: url).process(key: "circularAvatar") {
    Toucan(image: $0).maskWithEllipse().image

All those APIs are built on top of ImageProcessing protocol which you can also use to implement custom processors. Keep in mind that ImageProcessing also requires Equatable conformance which helps Nuke identify images in memory cache.

See Core Image Integration Guide for info about using Core Image with Nuke

Image Pipeline

Use ImagePipeline directly to load images without a view.

let task = ImagePipeline.shared.loadImage(
    with: url,
    progress: { _, completed, total in
        print("progress updated")
    completion: { response, error in
        print("task completed")

Tasks can be used to monitor download progress, cancel the requests, and dynamically update download priority.


To learn more about the ImagePipeline see the dedicated section.

Configuring Image Pipeline

Apart from using a shared ImagePipeline instance, you can create your own.

let pipeline = ImagePipeline {
    $0.dataLoader = ...
    $0.dataLoadingQueue = ...
    $0.imageCache = ...

// When you're done you can make the pipeline a shared one:
ImagePipeline.shared = pipeline

Advanced Usage

Memory Cache

Default Nuke’s ImagePipeline has two cache layers.

First, there is a memory cache for storing processed images ready for display. You can get a direct access to this cache:

// Configure cache
ImageCache.shared.costLimit = 1024 * 1024 * 100 // 100 MB
ImageCache.shared.countLimit = 100
ImageCache.shared.ttl = 120 // Invalidate image after 120 sec

// Read and write images
let request = ImageRequest(url: url)
ImageCache.shared[request] = image
let image = ImageCache.shared[request]

// Clear cache

HTTP Disk Cache

To store unprocessed image data Nuke uses a URLCache instance:

// Configure cache
DataLoader.sharedUrlCache.diskCapacity = 100
DataLoader.sharedUrlCache.memoryCapacity = 0

// Read and write responses
let request = ImageRequest(url: url)
let _ = DataLoader.sharedUrlCache.cachedResponse(for: request.urlRequest)
DataLoader.sharedUrlCache.removeCachedResponse(for: request.urlRequest)

// Clear cache

Aggressive Disk Cache

A custom LRU disk cache can be used for fast and reliable aggressive data caching (ignores HTTP cache control). You can enable it using pipeline’s configuration.

$0.dataCache = try! DataCache(name: "com.myapp.datacache")
// On Swift 4.1 and lower you'll also need to provide a `FilenameGenerator`.

If you enable aggressive disk cache, make sure that you also disable native URL cache (see DataLoader), or you might end up storing the same image data twice.

DataCache type implements public DataCaching protocol which can be used for implementing custom data caches.

Preheat Images

Preheating (prefetching) means loading images ahead of time in anticipation of their use. Nuke provides a ImagePreheater class that does just that.

let preheater = ImagePreheater(pipeline: ImagePipeline.shared)

let requests = urls.map {
    var request = ImageRequest(url: $0)
    request.priority = .low
    return request

// User enters the screen:
preheater.startPreheating(for: requests)

// User leaves the screen:
preheater.stopPreheating(for: requests)

You can use Nuke in combination with Preheat library which automates preheating of content in UICollectionView and UITableView. On iOS 10.0 you might want to use new prefetching APIs provided by iOS instead.

Check out Performance Guide to see what else you can do to improve performance

Progressive Decoding

To use progressive image loading you need a pipeline with progressive decoding enabled.

let pipeline = ImagePipeline {
    $0.isProgressiveDecodingEnabled = true

And that’s it, you can start observing images as they are produced by the pipeline. The progress handler also works as a progressive image handler.

let imageView = UIImageView()
let task = ImagePipeline.shared.loadImage(
    with: url,
    progress: { response, _, _ in
        imageView.image = response?.image
    completion: { response, _ in
        imageView.image = response?.image

See Progressive Decoding demo to see progressive JPEG in practice.

Animated Images

Nuke extends UIImage with animatedImageData property. If you enable it by setting ImagePipeline.Configuration.isAnimatedImageDataEnabled to true the pipeline will start attaching original image data to the animated images (built-in decoder only supports GIFs for now).

ImageCache takes animatedImageData into account when computing the cost of cached items. ImagePipeline doesn’t apply processors to the images with animated data.

There is no built-in way to render those images, but there are two integrations available: FLAnimatedImage and Gifu which are both fast and efficient.

GIF is not the most efficient format for transferring and displaying animated images. The current best practice is to use short videos instead of GIFs (e.g. MP4, WebM). There is a PoC available in the demo project which uses Nuke to load, cache and display an MP4 video.


WebP support is provided by Nuke WebP Plugin built by Ryo Kosuge. Please follow the intructions from the repo to install it.


RxNuke adds RxSwift extensions for Nuke and enables many common use cases:

Here’s an example of how easy it is to load go flow log to high resolution:

let pipeline = ImagePipeline.shared
Observable.concat(pipeline.loadImage(with: lowResUrl).orEmpty,
                  pipeline.loadImage(with: highResUtl).orEmpty)
    .subscribe(onNext: { imageView.image = $0 })
    .disposed(by: disposeBag)

Image Pipeline

Nuke’s image pipeline consists of roughly five stages which can be customized using the following protocols:

Protocol Description
DataLoading Download (or return cached) image data
DataCaching Custom data cache
ImageDecoding Convert data into image objects
ImageProcessing Apply image transformations
ImageCaching Store image into memory cache

Default Image Pipeline

The default image pipeline configuration looks like this:

ImagePipeline {
    // Shared image cache with a `sizeLimit` equal to ~20% of available RAM.
    $0.imageCache = ImageCache.shared

    // Data loader with a `URLSessionConfiguration.default` but with a
    // custom shared URLCache instance:
    // public static let sharedUrlCache = URLCache(
    //     memoryCapacity: 0,
    //     diskCapacity: 150 * 1024 * 1024, // 150 MB
    //     diskPath: "com.github.kean.Nuke.Cache"
    //  )
    $0.dataLoader = DataLoader()

    // Custom disk cache is disabled by default, the native URL cache used
    // by a `DataLoader` is used instead.
    $0.dataCache = nil

    // Each stage is executed on a dedicated queue with has its own limits.
    $0.dataLoadingQueue.maxConcurrentOperationCount = 6
    $0.imageDecodingQueue.maxConcurrentOperationCount = 1
    $0.imageProcessingQueue.maxConcurrentOperationCount = 2

    // Combine the requests for the same original image into one.
    $0.isDeduplicationEnabled = true

    // Progressive decoding is a resource intensive feature so it is
    // disabled by default.
    $0.isProgressiveDecodingEnabled = false

Image Pipeline Overview

Here’s what happens when you call Nuke.loadImage(with: url, into: imageView method.

First, Nuke synchronously checks if the image is available in the memory cache (pipeline.configuration.imageCache). If it’s not, Nuke calls pipeline.loadImage(with: request) method. The pipeline also checks if the image is available in its memory cache, and if not, starts loading it.

Before starting to load image data, the pipeline also checks whether there are any existing outstanding requests for the same image. If it finds one, no new requests are created.

By default, the data is loaded using URLSession with a custom URLCache instance (see configuration above). The URLCache supports on-disk caching but it requires HTTP cache to be enabled.

See Image Caching Guide to learn more.

When the data is loaded the pipeline decodes the data (creates UIImage object from Data). Then it applies a default image processor - ImageDecompressor - to force data decompression in a background. The processed image is then stored in the memory cache and returned in the completion closure.

When you create UIImage object form data, the data doesn’t get decoded immediately. It’s decoded the first time it’s used - for example, when you display the image in an image view. Decoding is a resource-intensive operation, if you do it on the main thread you might see dropped frames, especially for image formats like JPEG.

To prevent decoding happening on the main thread, Nuke perform it in a background for you. But for even better performance it’s recommended to downsample the images. To do so create a request with a target view size:

ImageRequest(url: url, targetSize: CGSize(width: 640, height: 320), contentMode: .aspectFill)

Warning: target size is in pixels!

See Image and Graphics Best Practices to learn more about image decoding and downsampling.

Data Loading and Caching

A built-in DataLoader class implements DataLoading protocol and uses URLSession to load image data. The data is cached on disk using a URLCache instance, which by default is initialized with a memory capacity of 0 MB (Nuke stores images in memory, not image data) and a disk capacity of 150 MB.

The URLSession class natively supports the data, file, ftp, http, and https URL schemes. Image pipeline can be used with any of those schemes as well.

See Image Caching Guide to learn more about image caching

See Third Party Libraries guide to learn how to use a custom data loader or cache

Most developers either implement their own networking layer or use a third-party framework. Nuke supports both of those workflows. You can integrate your custom networking layer by implementing DataLoading protocol.

See Alamofire Plugin that implements DataLoading protocol using Alamofire framework

Memory Cache

Processed images which are ready to be displayed are stored in a fast in-memory cache (ImageCache). It uses LRU (least recently used) replacement algorithm and has a limit which prevents it from using more than ~20% of available RAM. As a good citizen, ImageCache automatically evicts images on memory warnings and removes most of the images when the application enters background.

Resumable Downloads

If the data task is terminated (either because of a failure or a cancelation) and the image was partially loaded, the next load will resume where it was left off.

Resumable downloads require server to support HTTP Range Requests. Nuke supports both validators (ETag and Last-Modified). The resumable downloads are enabled by default.

By default resumable data is stored in an efficient memory cache. Future versions might include more customization.

Request Dedupication

By default ImagePipeline combines the requests for the same image (but can be different processors) into the same task. The task’s priority is set to the highest priority of registered requests and gets updated when requests are added or removed to the task. The task only gets canceled when all the registered requests are.

Deduplication can be disabled using ImagePipeline.Configuration.


Performance is one of the key differentiating factors for Nuke.

The framework is tuned to do as little work on the main thread as possible. It uses multiple optimizations techniques to achieve that: reducing number of allocations, reducing dynamic dispatch, backing some structs by reference typed storage to reduce ARC overhead, etc.

Nuke is fully asynchronous and works great under stress. ImagePipeline schedules each of its stages on a dedicated queue. Each queue limits the number of concurrent tasks, respect request priorities even when moving between queue, and cancels the work as soon as possible. Under certain loads, ImagePipeline will also rate limit the requests to prevent trashing of the underlying systems.

Another important performance characteristic is memory usage. Nuke uses a custom memory cache with LRU (least recently used) replacement algorithm. It has a limit which prevents it from using more than ~20% of available RAM. As a good citizen, ImageCache automatically evicts images on memory warnings and removes most of the images when the application enters background.

Performance Metrics (Beta)

When optimizing performance, it’s important to measure. Nuke collects detailed performance metrics during the execution of each image task:

ImagePipeline.shared.didFinishCollectingMetrics = { task, metrics in


(lldb) po metrics

Task Information {
    Task ID - 1
    Duration - 22:35:16.123 – 22:35:16.475 (0.352s)
    Was canceled - false
    Is Memory Cache Hit - false
    Was Subscribed To Existing Session - false
Session Information {
    Session ID - 1
    Total Duration - 0.351s
    Was Canceled - false
Timeline {
    22:35:16.124 – 22:35:16.475 (0.351s) - Total
    nil – nil (nil)                      - Check Disk Cache
    22:35:16.131 – 22:35:16.410 (0.278s) - Load Data
    22:35:16.410 – 22:35:16.468 (0.057s) - Decode
    22:35:16.469 – 22:35:16.474 (0.005s) - Process
Resumable Data {
    Was Resumed - nil
    Resumable Data Count - nil
    Server Confirmed Resume - nil


There are a variety extensions available for Nuke some of which are built by the community.

Name Description
RxNuke RxSwift extensions for Nuke with examples of common use cases solved by Rx
Alamofire Replace networking layer with Alamofire and combine the power of both frameworks
WebP [Community] WebP support, built by Ryo Kosuge
Gifu Use Gifu to load and display animated GIFs
FLAnimatedImage Use FLAnimatedImage to load and display animated GIFs


Nuke’s roadmap is managed in Trello and is publically available.

If you’d like to contribute, please feel free to create a PR.


  • iOS 9.0 / watchOS 2.0 / macOS 10.10 / tvOS 9.0
  • Xcode 9.2 - Xcode 10
  • Swift 4.0 - Swift 4.2


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