The GlobalEventHandlers event handler onpointerdown is used to specify the event handler for the pointerdown event, which is fired when the pointing device is initially pressed. This event can be sent to Window, Document, and Element objects.

This is functionally equivalent to the mousedown event when generated due to user activity with a mouse or mouse-compatible device. If the pointerdown event isn't canceled through a call to preventDefault(), most user agents will fire a mousedown event, so that sites not using pointer events will work.

You can also use addEventListener() to add a listener for pointerdown events.


target.onpointerdown = downHandler;

var downHandler = target.onpointerdown;


A Function to handle the pointerdown event for the target Element, Document, or Window. It receives as input the PointerEvent describing the pointerdown event.


This example demonstrates how to watch for and act upon pointerdown events using onpointerdown. You could also use addEventListener(), of course.


First, let's look at the JavaScript code that handles the pointerdown event.

var targetBox = document.getElementById("target");

targetBox.onpointerdown = handleDown;

function handleDown(evt) {
  var action;
  switch(evt.pointerType) {
    case "mouse":
      action = "clicking";
    case "pen":
      action = "tapping";
    case "touch":
      action = "touching";
      action = "interacting with";
  targetBox.innerHTML = "<strong>Thanks for " + action + " me!</strong>";

This simply uses onpointerdown to establish the function handleDown() as the event handler for pointer down events.

The handleDown() function, in turn, looks at the value of pointerType to determine what kind of pointing device was used, then uses that information to customize a string to replace the contents of the target box.

Then the event's preventDefault() method is called to ensure that the mousedown event isn't triggered, potentially causing events to be handled twice if we had a handler for those events in case Pointer Event support is missing.

We also have a handler for pointerup events:

targetBox.onpointerup = handleUp;

function handleUp(evt) {
  targetBox.innerHTML = "Tap me, click me, or touch me!";

This code's job is to just restore the original text into the target box after the user's interaction with the element ends (for example, when they release the mouse button, or when they lift the stylus or finger from the screen).

In addition, the event's preventDefault() method is called to ensure that the mouseup event isn't triggered unnecessarily.


The HTML is extremely simple:

<div id="target">
  Tap me, click me, or touch me!


The CSS simply sets up the appearance of the target, and doesn't affect its functionality at all.

#target {
  width: 400px;
  height: 30px;
  text-align: center;
  font: 16px "Open Sans", "Helvetica", sans-serif;
  color: white;
  background-color: blue;
  border: 2px solid darkblue;
  cursor: pointer;
  user-select: none;
  -moz-user-select: none;
  -webkit-user-select: none;
  -ms-user-select: none;


The resulting output is shown below. Try tapping, clicking, or touching the box and see what happens. For full effect, try it with a variety of pointer types.


Specification Status Comment
Pointer Events – Level 2
The definition of 'onpointerdown' in that specification.
Working Draft Non-stable version
Pointer Events
The definition of 'onpointerdown' in that specification.
Recommendation Initial definition

Browser compatibility

We're converting our compatibility data into a machine-readable JSON format. This compatibility table still uses the old format, because we haven't yet converted the data it contains. Find out how you can help!

Feature Chrome Firefox (Gecko) Internet Explorer Opera Safari
Basic support 35[1] 59 (59) 10 -ms
? No support
Feature Android Chrome for Android Firefox Mobile (Gecko) IE Mobile Opera Mobile Safari Mobile
Basic support ? 35[1] 29.0 (29)[2] 10 -ms
? No support

[1] This was implemented in bug 248918.

[2] Supported behind the preference dom.w3c_pointer_events.enabled, defaulting to false.

See also

Document Tags and Contributors

Last updated by: chrisdavidmills,