The activeElement read-only property of the Document and ShadowRoot interfaces returns the Element within the DOM or shadow DOM tree that currently has focus. This property is inherited from the DocumentOrShadowRoot mixin.

Often activeElement will return an <input> or <textarea> object if it has the text selection at the time.  If so, you can get more detail by using the element's selectionStart and selectionEnd properties.  Other times the focused element might be a <select> element (menu) or an <input> element, of type "button", "checkbox", or "radio".

Typically a user can press the tab key to move the focus around the page among focusable elements, and use the space bar to activate one (that is, to press a button or toggle a radio button).  Which elements are focusable varies depending on the platform and the browser's current configuration. For example, on macOS systems, elements that aren't text input elements are not typically focusable by default.

Note: Focus (which element is receiving user input events) is not the same thing as selection (the currently highlighted part of the document). You can get the current selection using window.getSelection()

When there is no selection, the active element is the page's <body> or null.


var element = DocumentOrShadowRoot.activeElement


The Element which currently has focus, or null if there is no focused element.


    <script charset="utf-8">
    function init() {

        function onMouseUp(e) {
            var outputElement = document.getElementById('output-element');
            var outputText = document.getElementById('output-text');
            var selectedTextArea = document.activeElement;
            var selection = selectedTextArea.value.substring(
            selectedTextArea.selectionStart, selectedTextArea.selectionEnd);
            outputElement.innerHTML =;
            outputText.innerHTML = selection;

        document.getElementById("ta-example-one").addEventListener("mouseup", onMouseUp, false);
        document.getElementById("ta-example-two").addEventListener("mouseup", onMouseUp, false);
<body onload="init()">
    Select some text from one of the Textareas below:
<form id="frm-example" action="#" accept-charset="utf-8">
<textarea name="ta-example-one" id="ta-example-one" rows="8" cols="40">
This is Textarea Example One: 
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec tincidunt, lorem a porttitor molestie, odio nibh iaculis libero, et accumsan nunc orci eu dui.
<textarea name="ta-example-two" id="ta-example-two" rows="8" cols="40">
This is Textarea Example Two:
Fusce ullamcorper, nisl ac porttitor adipiscing, urna orci egestas libero, ut accumsan orci lacus laoreet diam. Morbi sed euismod diam.
Active Element Id: <span id="output-element"></span><br>
Selected Text: <span id="output-text"></span>


View on JSFiddle


Specification Status Comment
Shadow DOM
The definition of 'DocumentOrShadowRoot' in that specification.
Working Draft Initial definition.

Browser compatibility

FeatureChromeEdgeFirefoxInternet ExplorerOperaSafari
Basic support53 Yes Yes Yes40 Yes
FeatureAndroid webviewChrome for AndroidEdge mobileFirefox for AndroidOpera AndroidiOS SafariSamsung Internet
Basic support5353 Yes Yes40 Yes6.0

Document Tags and Contributors

Contributors to this page: Sheppy, Volker-E, jpmedley, u_7cc, fscholz, chrisdavidmills, bede, david_ross
Last updated by: Sheppy,