File drag and drop

HTML Drag and Drop interfaces enable web applications to drag and drop files on a web page. This document describes how an application can accept one or more files that are dragged from the underlying platform's file manager and dropped on a web page.

The main steps to drag and drop are to define a drop zone (i.e. a target element for the file drop) and to define event handlers for the drop and dragover events. These steps are described below, including example code snippets. The full source code is available in MDN's drag-and-drop repository (pull requests and/or issues are welcome).

Note: HTML drag and drop defines two different APIs to support dragging and dropping files. One API is the DataTransfer interface and the second API is the DataTransferItem and DataTransferItemList interfaces. This example illustrates the use of both APIs (and does not use any Gecko specific interfaces).

Define the drop zone

The target element of the drop event needs an ondrop global event handler. The following code snippet shows how this is done with a <div> element:

<div id="drop_zone" ondrop="dropHandler(event);">
  <p>Drag one or more files to this Drop Zone ...</p>
</div>

Typically, an application will include a dragover event handler on the drop target element and that handler will turn off the browser's default drag behavior. To add this handler, you need to include a ondragover global event handler:

<div id="drop_zone" ondrop="dropHandler(event);" ondragover="dragOverHandler(event);">
  <p>Drag one or more files to this Drop Zone ...</p>
</div>

Lastly, an application may want to style the drop target element to visually indicate the element is a drop zone. In this example, the drop target element uses the following styling:

#drop_zone {
  border: 5px solid blue;
  width:  200px;
  height: 100px;
}

Note that dragstart and dragend events are not fired when dragging a file into the browser from the OS.

Process the drop

The drop event is fired when the user drops the file(s). In the following drop handler, if the browser supports DataTransferItemList interface, the getAsFile() method is used to access each file; otherwise the DataTransfer interface's files property is used to access each file.

This example shows how to write the name of each dragged file to the console. In a real application, an application may want to process a file using  the File API.

Note that in this example, any drag item that is not a file is ignored.

function dropHandler(ev) {
  console.log('File(s) dropped');

  // Prevent default behavior (Prevent file from being opened)
  ev.preventDefault();

  if (ev.dataTransfer.items) {
    // Use DataTransferItemList interface to access the file(s)
    for (var i = 0; i < ev.dataTransfer.items.length; i++) {
      // If dropped items aren't files, reject them
      if (ev.dataTransfer.items[i].kind === 'file') {
        var file = ev.dataTransfer.items[i].getAsFile();
        console.log('... file[' + i + '].name = ' + file.name);
      }
    }
  } else {
    // Use DataTransfer interface to access the file(s)
    for (var i = 0; i < ev.dataTransfer.files.length; i++) {
      console.log('... file[' + i + '].name = ' + ev.dataTransfer.files[i].name);
    }
  } 
  
  // Pass event to removeDragData for cleanup
  removeDragData(ev)
}

Prevent the browser's default drag behavior

The following dragover event handler calls preventDefault() to turn off the browser's default drag and drop handler.

function dragOverHandler(ev) {
  console.log('File(s) in drop zone'); 

  // Prevent default behavior (Prevent file from being opened)
  ev.preventDefault();
}

Cleanup

Typically, an application may want to perform some cleanup by deleting the file drag data. In this example, the drop event is passed along from drop handler to a custom function called removeDragData. If the browser supports the DataTransferItemList interface, the list's clear() method is used to delete the file drag data; otherwise the DataTransfer object's clearData() method is used to delete the data.

function removeDragData(ev) {
  console.log('Removing drag data');

  if (ev.dataTransfer.items) {
    // Use DataTransferItemList interface to remove the drag data
    ev.dataTransfer.items.clear();
  } else {
    // Use DataTransfer interface to remove the drag data
    ev.dataTransfer.clearData();
  }
}

See also

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Last updated by: NiklasMerz,