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When an HTML document has been switched to designMode, its document object exposes an execCommand method to run commands that manipulate the current editable region, such as form inputs or contentEditable elements.

Most commands affect the document's selection (bold, italics, etc.), while others insert new elements (adding a link), or affect an entire line (indenting). When using contentEditable, execCommand() affects the currently active editable element.

Syntax

bool = document.execCommand(aCommandName, aShowDefaultUI, aValueArgument)

Return value

A Boolean that is false if the command is unsupported or disabled.

Note: Only returns true if part of a user interaction. Don't try using the return value to verify browser support before calling a command. 

Parameters

aCommandName
A DOMString specifying the name of the command to execute. See Commands for a list of possible commands.
aShowDefaultUI
A Boolean indicating whether the default user interface should be shown. This is not implemented in Mozilla.
aValueArgument
For commands which require an input argument, is a DOMString providing that information. For example, insertImage requires the URL of the image to insert. Specify null if no argument is needed.

Commands

backColor
Changes the document background color. In styleWithCss mode, it affects the background color of the containing block instead. This requires a <color> value string to be passed in as a value argument. Note that Internet Explorer uses this to set the text background color.
bold
Toggles bold on/off for the selection or at the insertion point. Internet Explorer uses the <strong> tag instead of <b>.
ClearAuthenticationCache
Clears all authentication credentials from the cache.
contentReadOnly
Makes the content document either read-only or editable. This requires a boolean true/false as the value argument. (Not supported by Internet Explorer.)
copy
Copies the current selection to the clipboard. Conditions of having this behavior enabled vary from one browser to another, and have evolved over time. Check the compatibility table to determine if you can use it in your case.
createLink
Creates an hyperlink from the selection, but only if there is a selection. Requires a URI string as a value argument for the hyperlink's href. The URI must contain at least a single character, which may be whitespace. (Internet Explorer will create a link with a null value.)
cut
Removes the current selection and copies it to the clipboard. When this behavior is enabled varies between browsers, and its conditions have evolved over time. Check the compatibility table for usage details.
decreaseFontSize
Adds a <small> tag around the selection or at the insertion point. (Not supported by Internet Explorer.)
defaultParagraphSeparator
Changes the paragraph separator used when new paragraphs are created in editable text regions. See Differences in markup generation for more details.
delete
Deletes the current selection.
enableAbsolutePositionEditor
Enables or disables the grabber that allows absolutely-positioned elements to be moved around. This is disabled by default in Firefox 63 Beta/Dev Edition (bug 1449564)
enableInlineTableEditing
Enables or disables the table row/column insertion and deletion controls. This is disabled by default in Firefox 63 Beta/Dev Edition (bug 1449564).
enableObjectResizing
Enables or disables the resize handles on images, tables, and absolutely-positioned elements and other resizable objects. This is disabled by default in Firefox 63 Beta/Dev Edition (bug 1449564).
fontName
Changes the font name for the selection or at the insertion point. This requires a font name string (like "Arial") as a value argument.
fontSize
Changes the font size for the selection or at the insertion point. This requires an integer from 1-7 as a value argument.
foreColor
Changes a font color for the selection or at the insertion point. This requires a hexidecimal color value string as a value argument.
formatBlock
Adds an HTML block-level element around the line containing the current selection, replacing the block element containing the line if one exists (in Firefox, <blockquote> is the exception — it will wrap any containing block element). Requires a tag-name string as a value argument. Virtually all block-level elements can be used. (Internet Explorer supports only heading tags H1H6, ADDRESS, and PRE, which must be wrapped in angle brackets, such as "<H1>".)
forwardDelete
Deletes the character ahead of the cursor's position, identical to hitting the Delete key on a Windows keyboard.
heading
Adds a heading element around a selection or insertion point line. Requires the tag-name string as a value argument (i.e. "H1", "H6"). (Not supported by Internet Explorer and Safari.)
hiliteColor
Changes the background color for the selection or at the insertion point. Requires a color value string as a value argument. useCSS must be true for this to function. (Not supported by Internet Explorer.)
increaseFontSize
Adds a <big> tag around the selection or at the insertion point. (Not supported by Internet Explorer.)
indent
Indents the line containing the selection or insertion point. In Firefox, if the selection spans multiple lines at different levels of indentation, only the least indented lines in the selection will be indented.
insertBrOnReturn
Controls whether the Enter key inserts a <br> element, or splits the current block element into two. (Not supported by Internet Explorer.)
insertHorizontalRule
Inserts a <hr> element at the insertion point, or replaces the selection with it.
insertHTML
Inserts an HTML string at the insertion point (deletes selection). Requires a valid HTML string as a value argument. (Not supported by Internet Explorer.)
insertImage
Inserts an image at the insertion point (deletes selection). Requires a URL string for the image's src as a value argument. The requirements for this string are the same as createLink.
insertOrderedList
Creates a numbered ordered list for the selection or at the insertion point.
insertUnorderedList
Creates a bulleted unordered list for the selection or at the insertion point.
insertParagraph
Inserts a paragraph around the selection or the current line. (Internet Explorer inserts a paragraph at the insertion point and deletes the selection.)
insertText
Inserts the given plain text at the insertion point (deletes selection).
italic
Toggles italics on/off for the selection or at the insertion point. (Internet Explorer uses the <em> element instead of <i>.)
justifyCenter
Centers the selection or insertion point.
justifyFull
Justifies the selection or insertion point.
justifyLeft
Justifies the selection or insertion point to the left.
justifyRight
Right-justifies the selection or the insertion point.
outdent
Outdents the line containing the selection or insertion point.
paste
Pastes the clipboard contents at the insertion point (replaces current selection). Disabled for web content. See [1].
redo
Redoes the previous undo command.
removeFormat
Removes all formatting from the current selection.
selectAll
Selects all of the content of the editable region.
strikeThrough
Toggles strikethrough on/off for the selection or at the insertion point.
subscript
Toggles subscript on/off for the selection or at the insertion point.
superscript
Toggles superscript on/off for the selection or at the insertion point.
underline
Toggles underline on/off for the selection or at the insertion point.
undo
Undoes the last executed command.
unlink
Removes the anchor element from a selected hyperlink.
useCSS
Toggles the use of HTML tags or CSS for the generated markup. Requires a boolean true/false as a value argument.
NOTE: This argument is logically backwards (i.e. use false to use CSS, true to use HTML) and unsupported by Internet Explorer. This has been deprecated in favor of styleWithCSS.
styleWithCSS
Replaces the useCSS command. true modifies/generates style attributes in markup, false generates presentational elements.

Example

An example of how to use it on CodePen.

Specifications

Specification Status Comment
HTML Editing APIs
The definition of 'execCommand' in that specification.
Editor's Draft Initial definition

Browser compatibility

FeatureChromeEdgeFirefoxInternet ExplorerOperaSafari
Basic support Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
insertBrOnReturn command No No Yes No No No
copy command Yes Yes4192910
cut command Yes Yes4192910
defaultParagraphSeparator command Yes Yes55 No Yes No
ClearAuthenticationCache command No Yes No6 No No
FeatureAndroid webviewChrome for AndroidEdge mobileFirefox for AndroidOpera AndroidiOS SafariSamsung Internet
Basic support Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes ?
insertBrOnReturn command No No No Yes No No ?
copy command Yes Yes Yes412910 ?
cut command Yes Yes Yes412910 ?
defaultParagraphSeparator command Yes Yes Yes55 Yes No ?
ClearAuthenticationCache command No No Yes No No No ?

See also