How Do I Find Out Which Dom Element Has The Focus

When it comes to web development, understanding user interactions is crucial. One of the essential aspects of user interaction is knowing which DOM (Document Object Model) element currently has the focus. This information can be valuable for a variety of reasons, such as enhancing accessibility, improving user experience, or debugging issues. In this article, we will explore various techniques and methods to find out which DOM element has the focus, allowing you to make your web applications more interactive and user-friendly.

Understanding the DOM

Before diving into the details of finding the focused element, it’s essential to grasp the basics of the DOM. The Document Object Model represents the structure of an HTML document as a tree of objects, where each object corresponds to a part of the document, such as elements, attributes, and text content. This hierarchical structure allows JavaScript to interact with and manipulate the web page dynamically.

The document.activeElement Property

The simplest and most direct way to determine which DOM element has the focus is by using the document.activeElement property. This property returns the currently focused element on the page. Let’s take a look at a basic example:

const focusedElement = document.activeElement;

In this example, we assign the currently focused element to the focusedElement variable and log it to the console. This will display the focused element’s properties and attributes, making it easy to inspect and work with.

Use Cases

  • Accessibility: You can use document.activeElement to improve accessibility by applying specific styles or functionality to the focused element, making it more noticeable and usable for users who rely on keyboard navigation.
  • Form Validation: When users fill out forms, you can validate input fields as they gain or lose focus, providing real-time feedback and improving the user experience.
  • Custom Controls: For custom UI components like dropdowns or modals, you can manage focus using this property to ensure that user interactions remain seamless.

Event Listeners for Focus and Blur

Another way to track the focused element is by adding event listeners for the focus and blur events. The focus event is triggered when an element gains focus, while the blur event occurs when an element loses focus. You can attach event listeners to specific elements or even the entire document to monitor focus changes.

Let’s see how this works in practice:

// Add a focus event listener to the document
document.addEventListener('focus', (event) => {
  const focusedElement =;
  console.log('Element focused:', focusedElement);

// Add a blur event listener to the document
document.addEventListener('blur', (event) => {
  const blurredElement =;
  console.log('Element blurred:', blurredElement);

In this example, we’re logging the focused and blurred elements whenever these events occur. You can customize the event listeners to perform any actions you need.

Use Cases

  • Focus Traversal: By monitoring focus changes, you can implement custom focus traversal logic, such as moving focus to the next input element when the current one is filled out.
  • Interactive Widgets: When building interactive widgets like sliders or carousels, you can use focus and blur events to manage user interactions effectively.

Tabindex Attribute

The tabindex attribute is another essential tool for controlling the tab order and, consequently, finding the focused element. By setting a specific tabindex value for elements, you can dictate the order in which they receive focus when users navigate the page using the Tab key.

Let’s look at an example:

<input type="text" tabindex="1" id="input1" placeholder="First Input">
<input type="text" tabindex="2" id="input2" placeholder="Second Input">
<input type="text" tabindex="3" id="input3" placeholder="Third Input">

In this example, we’ve assigned tabindex values to three input elements. As a result, when users press the Tab key, the focus will move from the first input to the second and then to the third.

Use Cases

  • Complex Forms: When dealing with lengthy forms, setting tabindex values ensures that users can navigate efficiently and predictably through the fields.
  • Keyboard Navigation: For custom navigation menus or interactive components, tabindex can help maintain the correct order of focus.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I determine which DOM element currently has the focus in a web page?

You can use the document.activeElement property to find the DOM element that currently has the focus. This property returns the currently focused element in the document.

   var focusedElement = document.activeElement;

Can I check if a specific element has the focus?

Yes, you can check if a specific element has the focus by comparing it with the document.activeElement. For example:

   var myElement = document.getElementById("myElement");
   if (myElement === document.activeElement) {
       // The element with id "myElement" has the focus.
   } else {
       // It doesn't have the focus.

How can I perform an action when an element gains or loses focus?

You can use event listeners to detect when an element gains or loses focus. For example, to execute a function when an input field gains focus:

   var inputElement = document.getElementById("myInput");
   inputElement.addEventListener("focus", function() {
       // This code will run when the input gains focus.

   inputElement.addEventListener("blur", function() {
       // This code will run when the input loses focus.

How can I find the focused element in a form when submitting it?

To find the focused element within a form when submitting it, you can use the document.activeElement property within your form submission event handler. For example:

   var myForm = document.getElementById("myForm");
   myForm.addEventListener("submit", function(event) {
       var focusedElement = document.activeElement;
       console.log("The focused element is:", focusedElement);
       // Continue with form submission logic.

How can I set the focus on a specific element programmatically?

You can set the focus on a specific element using the focus() method. For example, to set the focus on an input element with the id “myInput”:

   var inputElement = document.getElementById("myInput");

This will bring the specified element into focus, making it ready for user interaction or input.

Understanding which DOM element has the focus is fundamental for creating accessible and user-friendly web applications. You can utilize various methods and techniques, such as the document.activeElement property, focus and blur event listeners, and the tabindex attribute, to achieve this goal. By doing so, you empower your users with a smoother and more interactive browsing experience, ensuring that they can navigate and interact with your web content effectively. Whether you’re enhancing accessibility, implementing form validation, or creating custom controls, the ability to identify the focused element is a valuable asset in your web development toolkit.

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