So Sketch has symbols. These are great if every instance of the symbol across your various artboards is exactly the same. But what if say you had a tab bar, and on different screens, you wanted to show a different tab highlighted/selected? I've been just having the tab bar as an individual element, not a symbol, and manually changing the tabs for each page to show the right tab selected. I feel like there is a better way to do this, as when the client changes their mind about a colour, I'd have to individually change every instance.

2 Answers 2


There's a plugin called state machine that solves your task.
Article: https://medium.com/evil-martians/state-machine-3337b8776b49#.ysgrd1b2e
Plugin Download: https://github.com/romashamin/statemachine-sketch

I don't know if you're familiar with sketch plugins. Sketch toolbox is a good way for managing plugins. http://sketchtoolbox.com/


Nested symbols can help you out here.

Make your tab bar with all tabs in the same state, e.g default.

Create a symbol from it - TabBar/Default

In the symbol page, insert an instance of the TabBar/Default symbol (not a copy) for each tab.

Make an active state for tab 1, position over one of these instances, and create a new symbol - TabBar/Tab1_active

Repeat for each tab.

If you later need to change the colour of the tab bar background, this now only needs to be done in TabBar/Default.

Example of nested symbols in Sketch

If possible, using styles or symbols for the Active tab can reduce effort for changes too.

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