<input> elements with type="file" let the user choose one or more files from their device storage. Once chosen, the files can be uploaded to a server using form submission, or manipulated using JavaScript code and the File API.

<input name="myFile" type="file">

Value A DOMString representing the path to the selected file.
Events change and input
Supported Common Attributes accept, multiple, required
IDL attributes files and value
Methods select()

Value

A file input's value attribute contains a DOMString that represents the path to the selected file(s). If the user selected multiple files, the value represents the first file in the list of files they selected. The other files can be identified using the input's

Note:
  1. If multiple files are selected, the string represents the first selected file. JavaScript can access the other files through the input's FileList property.
  2. If no file is yet selected, the string is "" (empty).
  3. The string is prefixed with C:\fakepath\, to prevent malicious software from guessing the user's file structure.

Additional attributes

In addition to the common attributes shared by all <input> elements, inputs of type file also support:

files
A FileList object that lists every selected file. This list has no more than one member unless the multiple attribute is specified.

Using file inputs

A basic example

<form method="post" enctype="multipart/form-data">
 <div>
   <label for="file">Choose file to upload</label>
   <input type="file" id="file" name="file" multiple>
 </div>
 <div>
   <button>Submit</button>
 </div>
</form>

This produces the following output:

Note: You can find this example on GitHub too — see the source code, and also see it running live.

Regardless of the user's device or operating system, the file input provides a button that opens up a file picker dialog that allows the user to choose a file.

Including the multiple attribute, as shown above, specifies that multiple files can be chosen at once. The user can choose multiple files from the file picker in any way that their chosen platform allows (e.g. by holding down Shift or Control, and then clicking). If you only want the user to choose a single file per <input>, omit the multiple attribute.

When the form is submitted, each selected file's name will be added to URL parameters in the following fashion: ?file=file1.txt&file=file2.txt

Getting information on selected files

The selected files' are returned by the element's files property, which is a FileList object containining a list of File objects. The FileList behaves like an array, so you can check its length property to get the number of selected files.

Each File object contains the following information:

name
The file's name.
lastModified
A number specifying the date and time at which the file was last modified, in milliseconds since the UNIX epoch (January 1, 1970 at midnight).
lastModifiedDate
A Date object representing the date and time at which the file was last modified. This is deprecated and should not be used. Use lastModified instead.
size
The size of the file in bytes.
type
The file's MIME type.
webkitRelativePath
A string specifying the file's path relative to the base directory selected in a directory picker (that is, a file picker in which the webkitdirectory attribute is set). This is non-standard and should be used with caution.

Note: You can set as well as get the value of HTMLInputElement.files in all modern browsers; this was most recently added to Firefox, in version 57 (see bug 1384030).

Limiting accepted file types

Often you won't want the user to be able to pick any arbitrary type of file; instead, you often want them to select files of a specific type or types. For example, if your file input lets users upload a profile picture, you probably want them to select web-compatible image formats, such as JPEG or PNG.

Acceptable file types can be specified with the accept attribute, which takes a comma-separated list of allowed file extensions or MIME types. Some examples:

  • accept="image/png" or accept=".png" — Accepts PNG files.
  • accept="image/png, image/jpeg" or accept=".png, .jpg, .jpeg" — Accept PNG or JPEG files.
  • accept="image/*" — Accept any file with an image/* MIME type. (Many mobile devices also let the user take a picture with the camera when this is used.)
  • accept=".doc,.docx,.xml,application/msword,application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document" — accept anything that smells like an MS Word document.

Let's look like a more complete example:

<form method="post" enctype="multipart/form-data">
  <div>
    <label for="profile_pic">Choose file to upload</label>
    <input type="file" id="profile_pic" name="profile_pic"
          accept=".jpg, .jpeg, .png">
  </div>
  <div>
    <button>Submit</button>
  </div>
</form>

This produces a similar-looking output to the previous example:

Note: You can find this example on GitHub too — see the source code, and also see it running live.

It may look similar, but if you try selecting a file with this input, you'll see that the file picker only lets you select the file types specified in the accept value (the exact nature differs across browsers and operating systems).

Screenshot of a macOS file picker dialog. Files other than JPEG are grayed-out and unselectable.

The accept attribute doesn't validate the types of the selected files; it simply provides hints for browsers to guide users towards selecting the correct file types. It is still possible (in most cases) for users to toggle an option in the file chooser that makes it possible to override this and select any file they wish, and then choose incorrect file types.

Because of this, you should make sure that the accept attribute is backed up by appropriate server-side validation.

Examples

In this example, we'll present a slightly more advanced file chooser that takes advantage of the file information available in the HTMLInputElement.files property, as well as showing off a few clever tricks.

Note: You can see the complete source code for this example on GitHub — file-example.html (see it live also). We won't explain the CSS; the JavaScript is the main focus.

First of all, let's look at the HTML:

<form method="post" enctype="multipart/form-data">
  <div>
    <label for="image_uploads">Choose images to upload (PNG, JPG)</label>
    <input type="file" id="image_uploads" name="image_uploads" accept=".jpg, .jpeg, .png" multiple>
  </div>
  <div class="preview">
    <p>No files currently selected for upload</p>
  </div>
  <div>
    <button>Submit</button>
  </div>
</form>

This is similar to what we've seen before — nothing special to comment on.

Next, let's walk through the JavaScript.

In the first lines of script, we get references to the form input itself, and the <div> element with the class of .preview. Next, we hide the <input> element — we do this because file inputs tend to be ugly, difficult to style, and inconsistent in their design across browsers. You can activate the input element by clicking its <label>, so it is better to visually hide the input and style the label like a button, so the user will know to interact with it if they want to upload files.

var input = document.querySelector('input');
var preview = document.querySelector('.preview');

input.style.opacity = 0;

Note: opacity is used to hide the file input instead of visibility: hidden or display: none, because assistive technology interprets the latter two styles to mean the file input isn't interactive.

Next, we add an event listener to the input to listen for changes to its selected value changes (in this case, when files are selected). The event listener invokes our custom updateImageDisplay() function.

input.addEventListener('change', updateImageDisplay);

Whenever the updateImageDisplay() function is invoked, we:

  • Use a while loop to empty the previous contents of the preview <div>.
  • Grab the FileList object that contains the information on all the selected files, and store it in a variable called curFiles.
  • Check to see if no files were selected, by checking ifcurFiles.length is equal to 0. If so, print a message into the preview <div> stating that no files have been selected.
  • If files have been selected, we loop through each one, printing information about it into the preview <div>. Things to note here:
  • We use the custom validFileType() function to check whether the file is of the correct type (e.g. the image types specified in the accept attribute).
  • If it is, we:
    • Print out its name and file size into a list item inside the previous <div> (obtained from curFiles[i].name and curFiles[i].size). The custom returnFileSize() function returns a nicely-formatted version of the size in bytes/KB/MB (by default the browser reports the size in absolute bytes).
    • Generate a thumbnail preview of the image by calling window.URL.createObjectURL(curFiles[i]) and reducing the image size in the CSS, then insert that image into the list item too.
  • If the file type is invalid, we display a message inside a list item telling the user that they need to select a different file type.
function updateImageDisplay() {
  while(preview.firstChild) {
    preview.removeChild(preview.firstChild);
  }

  var curFiles = input.files;
  if(curFiles.length === 0) {
    var para = document.createElement('p');
    para.textContent = 'No files currently selected for upload';
    preview.appendChild(para);
  } else {
    var list = document.createElement('ol');
    preview.appendChild(list);
    for(var i = 0; i < curFiles.length; i++) {
      var listItem = document.createElement('li');
      var para = document.createElement('p');
      if(validFileType(curFiles[i])) {
        para.textContent = 'File name ' + curFiles[i].name + ', file size ' + returnFileSize(curFiles[i].size) + '.';
        var image = document.createElement('img');
        image.src = window.URL.createObjectURL(curFiles[i]);

        listItem.appendChild(image);
        listItem.appendChild(para);

      } else {
        para.textContent = 'File name ' + curFiles[i].name + ': Not a valid file type. Update your selection.';
        listItem.appendChild(para);
      }

      list.appendChild(listItem);
    }
  }
}

The custom validFileType() function takes a File object as a parameter, then loops through the list of allowed file types, checking if any matches the file's type property. If a match is found, the function returns true. If no match is found, it returns false.

var fileTypes = [
  'image/jpeg',
  'image/pjpeg',
  'image/png'
]

function validFileType(file) {
  for(var i = 0; i < fileTypes.length; i++) {
    if(file.type === fileTypes[i]) {
      return true;
    }
  }

  return false;
}

The returnFileSize() function takes a number (of bytes, taken from the current file's size property), and turns it into a nicely formatted size in bytes/KB/MB.

function returnFileSize(number) {
  if(number < 1024) {
    return number + 'bytes';
  } else if(number > 1024 && number < 1048576) {
    return (number/1024).toFixed(1) + 'KB';
  } else if(number > 1048576) {
    return (number/1048576).toFixed(1) + 'MB';
  }
}

The example looks like this; have a play:

Specifications

Specification Status Comment
HTML Living Standard
The definition of '<input type="file">' in that specification.
Living Standard Initial definition
HTML 5.1
The definition of '<input type="file">' in that specification.
Recommendation Initial definition

Browser compatibility

Feature Chrome Edge Firefox (Gecko) Internet Explorer Opera Safari
Basic support 1.0 ? 1.0 (1.7 or earlier) (Yes) 1.0 1.0
Feature Android Chrome for Android Edge Firefox Mobile (Gecko) IE Mobile Opera Mobile iOS WebKit
(Safari/Chrome/Firefox/etc)
Basic support (Yes) (Yes) (Yes) 4.0 (4.0) (Yes) (Yes) (Yes)

See also

Document Tags and Contributors

 Last updated by: Sheppy,