Detecting arrow key presses in JavaScript

Detecting arrow key presses in JavaScript

How do I detect when one of the arrow keys are pressed? I used this to find out:
function checkKey(e) {
var event = window.event ? window.event : e;
console.log(event.keyCode)
}

Though it worked for every other key, it didn’t for arrow keys (maybe because the browser is supposed to scroll on these keys by default).

Solutions/Answers:

Solution 1:

arrow keys are only triggered by onkeydown, not onkeypress

keycodes are:

  • left = 37
  • up = 38
  • right = 39
  • down = 40

Solution 2:

On key up and down call function. There are different codes for each key.

document.onkeydown = checkKey;

function checkKey(e) {

    e = e || window.event;

    if (e.keyCode == '38') {
        // up arrow
    }
    else if (e.keyCode == '40') {
        // down arrow
    }
    else if (e.keyCode == '37') {
       // left arrow
    }
    else if (e.keyCode == '39') {
       // right arrow
    }

}

Solution 3:

Possibly the tersest formulation:

document.onkeydown = function(e) {
    switch (e.keyCode) {
        case 37:
            alert('left');
            break;
        case 38:
            alert('up');
            break;
        case 39:
            alert('right');
            break;
        case 40:
            alert('down');
            break;
    }
};

Demo (thanks to user Angus Grant): http://jsfiddle.net/angusgrant/E3tE6/

This should work cross-browser. Leave a comment if there is a browser where it does not work.

There are other ways to get the key code (e.which, e.charCode, and window.event instead of e), but they should not be necessary. You can try most of them out at http://www.asquare.net/javascript/tests/KeyCode.html.
Note that event.keycode does not work with onkeypress in Firefox, but it does work with onkeydown.

Solution 4:

event.key === “ArrowRight”…

More recent and much cleaner: use event.key. No more arbitrary number codes! If you are transpiling or know your users are all on modern browsers, use this!

node.addEventListener('keydown', function(event) {
    const key = event.key; // "ArrowRight", "ArrowLeft", "ArrowUp", or "ArrowDown"
});

Verbose Handling:

switch (event.key) {
    case "ArrowLeft":
        // Left pressed
        break;
    case "ArrowRight":
        // Right pressed
        break;
    case "ArrowUp":
        // Up pressed
        break;
    case "ArrowDown":
        // Down pressed
        break;
}

You can easily extend this to check for "w", "a", "s", "d", or any other key

Mozilla Docs

Supported Browsers

P.S. event.code is the same for arrows

Solution 5:

Use keydown, not keypress for non-printable keys such as arrow keys:

function checkKey(e) {
    e = e || window.event;
    alert(e.keyCode);
}

document.onkeydown = checkKey;

The best JavaScript key event reference I’ve found (beating the pants off quirksmode, for example) is here: http://unixpapa.com/js/key.html

Solution 6:

Modern answer since keyCode is now deprecated in favor of key:

document.onkeydown = function (e) {
    switch (e.key) {
        case 'ArrowUp':
            // up arrow
            break;
        case 'ArrowDown':
            // down arrow
            break;
        case 'ArrowLeft':
            // left arrow
            break;
        case 'ArrowRight':
            // right arrow
    }
};