working - Which HTML elements can receive focus?




tabindex javascript (4)

The :focus selector is allowed on elements that accept keyboard events or other user inputs.

http://www.w3schools.com/cssref/sel_focus.asp

I'm looking for a definitive list of HTML elements which are allowed to take focus, i.e. which elements will be put into focus when focus() is called on them?

I'm writing a jQuery extension which works on elements that can be brought into focus. I hope the answer to this question will allow me to be specific about the elements I target.


Here I have a CSS-selector based on bobince's answer to select any focusable HTML element:

  a[href]:not([tabindex='-1']),
  area[href]:not([tabindex='-1']),
  input:not([disabled]):not([tabindex='-1']),
  select:not([disabled]):not([tabindex='-1']),
  textarea:not([disabled]):not([tabindex='-1']),
  button:not([disabled]):not([tabindex='-1']),
  iframe:not([tabindex='-1']),
  [tabindex]:not([tabindex='-1']),
  [contentEditable=true]:not([tabindex='-1'])
  {
      /* your CSS for focusable elements goes here */
  }

or a little more beautiful in SASS:

a[href],
area[href],
input:not([disabled]),
select:not([disabled]),
textarea:not([disabled]),
button:not([disabled]),
iframe,
[tabindex],
[contentEditable=true]
{
    &:not([tabindex='-1'])
    {
        /* your SCSS for focusable elements goes here */
    }
}

I've added it as an answer, because that was, what I was looking for, when Google redirected me to this question.

EDIT: There is one more selector, which is focusable:

[contentEditable=true]

However, this is used very rarely.



There isn't a definite list, it's up to the browser. The only standard we have is DOM Level 2 HTML, according to which the only elements that have a focus() method are HTMLInputElement, HTMLSelectElement, HTMLTextAreaElement and HTMLAnchorElement. This notably omits HTMLButtonElement and HTMLAreaElement.

Today's browsers define focus() on HTMLElement, but an element won't actually take focus unless it's one of:

  • HTMLAnchorElement/HTMLAreaElement with an href
  • HTMLInputElement/HTMLSelectElement/HTMLTextAreaElement/HTMLButtonElement but not with disabled (IE actually gives you an error if you try), and file uploads have unusual behaviour for security reasons
  • HTMLIFrameElement (though focusing it doesn't do anything useful). Other embedding elements also, maybe, I haven't tested them all.
  • Any element with a tabindex

There are likely to be other subtle exceptions and additions to this behaviour depending on browser.







focus