Programmatically select text in a contenteditable HTML element?

Programmatically select text in a contenteditable HTML element?

In JavaScript, it’s possible to programmatically select text in an input or textarea element. You can focus an input with ipt.focus(), and then select its contents with You can even select a specific range with ipt.setSelectionRange(from,to).
My question is: is there any way to do this in a contenteditable element too?
I found that I can do elem.focus(), to put the caret in a contenteditable element, but subsequently running doesn’t work (and nor does setSelectionRange). I can’t find anything on the web about it, but maybe I’m searching for the wrong thing…
By the way, if it makes any difference, I only need it to work in Google Chrome, as this is for a Chrome extension.


Solution 1:

If you want to select all the content of an element (contenteditable or not) in Chrome, here’s how. This will also work in Firefox, Safari 3+, Opera 9+ (possibly earlier versions too) and IE 9. You can also create selections down to the character level. The APIs you need are DOM Range (current spec is DOM Level 2, see also MDN) and Selection, which is being specified as part of a new Range spec (MDN docs).

function selectElementContents(el) {
    var range = document.createRange();
    var sel = window.getSelection();

var el = document.getElementById("foo");

Solution 2:

In addition to Tim Downs answer, i made a solution that work even in oldIE:

var selectText = function() {
  var range, selection;
  if (document.body.createTextRange) {
    range = document.body.createTextRange();
  } else if (window.getSelection) {
    selection = window.getSelection();
    range = document.createRange();

document.getElementById('foo').ondblclick = selectText;​

Tested in IE 8+, Firefox 3+, Opera 9+, & Chrome 2+. Even I’ve set it up into a jQuery plugin:

jQuery.fn.selectText = function() {
  var range, selection;
  return this.each(function() {
    if (document.body.createTextRange) {
      range = document.body.createTextRange();
    } else if (window.getSelection) {
      selection = window.getSelection();
      range = document.createRange();

$('#foo').on('dblclick', function() {

…and who’s intereseted in, here’s the same for all coffee-junkies:

jQuery.fn.selectText = ->
  @each ->
    if document.body.createTextRange
      range = document.body.createTextRange()
      range.moveToElementText @
    else if window.getSelection
      selection = window.getSelection()
      range = document.createRange()
      range.selectNodeContents @
      selection.addRange range


If you want to select the entire page or contents of an editable region (flagged with contentEditable), you can do it much simpler by switching to designMode and using document.execCommand:

There’s a good starting point at MDN and a littledocumentation.

var selectText = function () {
  document.execCommand('selectAll', false, null);

(works well in IE6+, Opera 9+, Firefoy 3+, Chrome 2+)

Solution 3:

Rangy allows you to do this cross-browser with the same code. Rangy is a cross-browser implementation of the DOM methods for selections. It is well tested and makes this a lot less painful. I refuse to touch contenteditable without it.

You can find rangy here:

With rangy in your project, you can always write this, even if the browser is IE 8 or earlier and has a completely different native API for selections:

var range = rangy.createRange();
var sel = rangy.getSelection();

Where “contentEditableNode” is the DOM node that has the contenteditable attribute. You might fetch it like this:

var contentEditable = document.getElementById('my-editable-thing');

Or if jQuery is part of your project already and you find it convenient:

var contentEditable = $('.some-selector')[0];

Solution 4:

Since all of the existing answers deal with div elements, I’ll explain how to do it with spans.

There is a subtle difference when selecting a text range in a span. In order to be able to pass the text start and end index, you have to use a Text node, as described here:

If the startNode is a Node of type Text, Comment, or CDATASection,
then startOffset is the number of characters from the start of
startNode. For other Node types, startOffset is the number of child
nodes between the start of the startNode.

var e = document.getElementById("id of the span element you want to select text in");
var textNode = e.childNodes[0]; //text node is the first child node of a span

var r = document.createRange();
var startIndex = 0;
var endIndex = textNode.textContent.length;
r.setStart(textNode, startIndex);
r.setEnd(textNode, endIndex);

var s = window.getSelection();

Solution 5:

[Updated to fix mistake]

Here is an example that is adapted from this answer that appears to work well in Chrome – Select range in contenteditable div

var elm = document.getElementById("myText"),
    fc = elm.firstChild,
    ec = elm.lastChild,
    range = document.createRange(),
sel = window.getSelection();

HTML is:

<div id="myText" contenteditable>test</div>

Solution 6:

contenteditable is just an attribute, that is interpreted by browser. You can modify such elements with ordinary DOM functions.

See javascript TextRanges.

Btw, quick search in SO, gave me couple results.