DocumentOrShadowRoot.activeElement

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.

Syntax

var element = DocumentOrShadowRoot.activeElement

Value

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

Example

HTML

<p>Select some text from one of the text areas below:</p>

<form>
  <textarea name="ta-example-one" id="ta-example-one" rows="7" cols="40">This is Text Area 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>
  <textarea name="ta-example-two" id="ta-example-two" rows="7" cols="40">This is Text Area Two. Fusce ullamcorper, nisl ac porttitor adipiscing, urna orci egestas libero, ut accumsan orci lacus laoreet diam. Morbi sed euismod diam.</textarea>
</form>

<p>Active element ID: <b id="output-element"></b></p>
<p>Selected text: <b id="output-text"></b></p>

JavaScript

function onMouseUp(e) {
  const activeTextarea = document.activeElement;
  const selection = activeTextarea.value.substring(
    activeTextarea.selectionStart, activeTextarea.selectionEnd
  );

  const outputElement = document.getElementById('output-element');
  const outputText = document.getElementById('output-text');
  outputElement.innerHTML = activeTextarea.id;
  outputText.innerHTML = selection;
}

const textarea1 = document.getElementById('ta-example-one');
const textarea2 = document.getElementById('ta-example-two');
textarea1.addEventListener('mouseup', onMouseUp, false);
textarea2.addEventListener('mouseup', onMouseUp, false);

Result

Specifications

Specification Status Comment
HTML Living Standard
The definition of 'activeElement' in that specification.
Living Standard
Shadow DOM
The definition of 'DocumentOrShadowRoot' in that specification.
Obsolete Extension to add activeElement to ShadowRoot

Browser compatibility

Update compatibility data on GitHub
DesktopMobile
ChromeEdgeFirefoxInternet ExplorerOperaSafariAndroid webviewChrome for AndroidFirefox for AndroidOpera for AndroidSafari on iOSSamsung Internet
activeElement
Experimental
Chrome Full support 53Edge Full support YesFirefox Full support 63IE Full support YesOpera Full support 40Safari Full support YesWebView Android Full support 53Chrome Android Full support 53Firefox Android Full support 63Opera Android Full support 41Safari iOS Full support YesSamsung Internet Android Full support 6.0

Legend

Full support  
Full support
Experimental. Expect behavior to change in the future.
Experimental. Expect behavior to change in the future.