Detect URLs in text with JavaScript

Does anyone have suggestions for detecting URLs in a set of strings?

  // detect URLs in strings and do something swell,
  // like creating elements with links.

Update: I wound up using this regex for link detection… Apparently several years later.

kLINK_DETECTION_REGEX = /(([a-z]+:\/\/)?(([a-z0-9\-]+\.)+([a-z]{2}|aero|arpa|biz|com|coop|edu|gov|info|int|jobs|mil|museum|name|nato|net|org|pro|travel|local|internal))(:[0-9]{1,5})?(\/[a-z0-9_\-\.~]+)*(\/([a-z0-9_\-\.]*)(\?[a-z0-9+_\-\.%=&]*)?)?(#[a-zA-Z0-9!$&'()*+.=-_~:@/?]*)?)(\s+|$)/gi

The full helper (with optional Handlebars support) is at gist #1654670.

First you need a good regex that matches urls. This is hard to do. See here, here and here:

...almost anything is a valid URL. There are some punctuation rules for splitting it up. Absent any punctuation, you still have a valid URL.

Check the RFC carefully and see if you can construct an "invalid" URL. The rules are very flexible.

For example ::::: is a valid URL. The path is ":::::". A pretty stupid filename, but a valid filename.

Also, ///// is a valid URL. The netloc ("hostname") is "". The path is "///". Again, stupid. Also valid. This URL normalizes to "///" which is the equivalent.

Something like "bad://///worse/////" is perfectly valid. Dumb but valid.

Anyway, this answer is not meant to give you the best regex but rather a proof of how to do the string wrapping inside the text, with JavaScript.

OK so lets just use this one: /(https?:\/\/[^\s]+)/g

Again, this is a bad regex. It will have many false positives. However it's good enough for this example.

function urlify(text) {
    var urlRegex = /(https?:\/\/[^\s]+)/g;
    return text.replace(urlRegex, function(url) {
        return '<a href="' + url + '">' + url + '</a>';
    // or alternatively
    // return text.replace(urlRegex, '<a href="$1">$1</a>')

var text = "Find me at and also at";
var html = urlify(text);

// html now looks like:
// "Find me at <a href=""></a> and also at <a href=""></a>"

So in sum try:

$$('#pad dl dd').each(function(element) {
    element.innerHTML = urlify(element.innerHTML);

Here is what I ended up using as my regex:

var urlRegex =/(\b(https?|ftp|file):\/\/[-A-Z0-9+&@#\/%?=~_|!:,.;]*[-A-Z0-9+&@#\/%=~_|])/ig;

This doesn't include trailing punctuation in the URL. Crescent's function works like a charm :) so:

function linkify(text) {
    var urlRegex =/(\b(https?|ftp|file):\/\/[-A-Z0-9+&@#\/%?=~_|!:,.;]*[-A-Z0-9+&@#\/%=~_|])/ig;
    return text.replace(urlRegex, function(url) {
        return '<a href="' + url + '">' + url + '</a>';

I googled this problem for quite a while, then it occurred to me that there is an Android method, android.text.util.Linkify, that utilizes some pretty robust regexes to accomplish this. Luckily, Android is open source.

They use a few different patterns for matching different types of urls. You can find them all here:

If you're just concerned about url's that match the WEB_URL_PATTERN, that is, urls that conform to the RFC 1738 spec, you can use this:


Here is the full text of the source:

+ "\\,\\;\\?\\&\\=]|(?:\\%[a-fA-F0-9]{2})){1,64}(?:\\:(?:[a-zA-Z0-9\\$\\-\\_"
+ "\\.\\+\\!\\*\\'\\(\\)\\,\\;\\?\\&\\=]|(?:\\%[a-fA-F0-9]{2})){1,25})?\\@)?)?"
+ "((?:(?:[a-zA-Z0-9][a-zA-Z0-9\\-]{0,64}\\.)+"   // named host
+ "(?:"   // plus top level domain
+ "(?:aero|arpa|asia|a[cdefgilmnoqrstuwxz])"
+ "|(?:biz|b[abdefghijmnorstvwyz])"
+ "|(?:cat|com|coop|c[acdfghiklmnoruvxyz])"
+ "|d[ejkmoz]"
+ "|(?:edu|e[cegrstu])"
+ "|f[ijkmor]"
+ "|(?:gov|g[abdefghilmnpqrstuwy])"
+ "|h[kmnrtu]"
+ "|(?:info|int|i[delmnoqrst])"
+ "|(?:jobs|j[emop])"
+ "|k[eghimnrwyz]"
+ "|l[abcikrstuvy]"
+ "|(?:mil|mobi|museum|m[acdghklmnopqrstuvwxyz])"
+ "|(?:name|net|n[acefgilopruz])"
+ "|(?:org|om)"
+ "|(?:pro|p[aefghklmnrstwy])"
+ "|qa"
+ "|r[eouw]"
+ "|s[abcdeghijklmnortuvyz]"
+ "|(?:tel|travel|t[cdfghjklmnoprtvwz])"
+ "|u[agkmsyz]"
+ "|v[aceginu]"
+ "|w[fs]"
+ "|y[etu]"
+ "|z[amw]))"
+ "|(?:(?:25[0-5]|2[0-4]" // or ip address
+ "[0-9]|[0-1][0-9]{2}|[1-9][0-9]|[1-9])\\.(?:25[0-5]|2[0-4][0-9]"
+ "|[0-1][0-9]{2}|[1-9][0-9]|[1-9]|0)\\.(?:25[0-5]|2[0-4][0-9]|[0-1]"
+ "[0-9]{2}|[1-9][0-9]|[1-9]|0)\\.(?:25[0-5]|2[0-4][0-9]|[0-1][0-9]{2}"
+ "|[1-9][0-9]|[0-9])))"
+ "(?:\\:\\d{1,5})?)" // plus option port number
+ "(\\/(?:(?:[a-zA-Z0-9\\;\\/\\?\\:\\@\\&\\=\\#\\~"  // plus option query params
+ "\\-\\.\\+\\!\\*\\'\\(\\)\\,\\_])|(?:\\%[a-fA-F0-9]{2}))*)?"
+ "(?:\\b|$)";

If you want to be really fancy, you can test for email addresses as well. The regex for email addresses is:


PS: The top level domains supported by above regex are current as of June 2007. For an up to date list you'll need to check

Based on Crescent Fresh answer

if you want to detect links with http:// OR without http:// and by www. you can use the following

function urlify(text) {
    var urlRegex = /(((https?:\/\/)|(www\.))[^\s]+)/g;
    //var urlRegex = /(https?:\/\/[^\s]+)/g;
    return text.replace(urlRegex, function(url,b,c) {
        var url2 = (c == 'www.') ?  'http://' +url : url;
        return '<a href="' +url2+ '" target="_blank">' + url + '</a>';

This library on NPM looks like it is pretty comprehensive

Linkify is a small yet comprehensive JavaScript plugin for finding URLs in plain-text and converting them to HTML links. It works with all valid URLs and email addresses.

Function can be further improved to render images as well:

function renderHTML(text) { 
    var rawText = strip(text)
    var urlRegex =/(\b(https?|ftp|file):\/\/[-A-Z0-9+&@#\/%?=~_|!:,.;]*[-A-Z0-9+&@#\/%=~_|])/ig;   

    return rawText.replace(urlRegex, function(url) {   

    if ( ( url.indexOf(".jpg") > 0 ) || ( url.indexOf(".png") > 0 ) || ( url.indexOf(".gif") > 0 ) ) {
            return '<img src="' + url + '">' + '<br/>'
        } else {
            return '<a href="' + url + '">' + url + '</a>' + '<br/>'

or for a thumbnail image that links to fiull size image:

return '<a href="' + url + '"><img style="width: 100px; border: 0px; -moz-border-radius: 5px; border-radius: 5px;" src="' + url + '">' + '</a>' + '<br/>'

And here is the strip() function that pre-processes the text string for uniformity by removing any existing html.

function strip(html) 
        var tmp = document.createElement("DIV"); 
        tmp.innerHTML = html; 
        var urlRegex =/(\b(https?|ftp|file):\/\/[-A-Z0-9+&@#\/%?=~_|!:,.;]*[-A-Z0-9+&@#\/%=~_|])/ig;   
        return tmp.innerText.replace(urlRegex, function(url) {     
        return '\n' + url 

let str = ' is a great site'
str.replace(/(https?:\/\/[^\s]+)/g,"<a href='$1' target='_blank' >$1</a>")

Short Code Big Work!...


 <a href="" target="_blank" > </a>

tmp.innerText is undefined. You should use tmp.innerHTML

function strip(html) 
        var tmp = document.createElement("DIV"); 
        tmp.innerHTML = html; 
        var urlRegex =/(\b(https?|ftp|file):\/\/[-A-Z0-9+&@#\/%?=~_|!:,.;]*[-A-Z0-9+&@#\/%=~_|])/ig;   
        return tmp.innerHTML .replace(urlRegex, function(url) {     
        return '\n' + url 

There is existing npm package: url-regex, just install it with yarn add url-regex or npm install url-regex and use as following:

const urlRegex = require('url-regex');

const replaced = 'Find me at and also at or at'
  .replace(urlRegex({strict: false}), function(url) {
     return '<a href="' + url + '">' + url + '</a>';

try this:

function isUrl(s) {
    if (!isUrl.rx_url) {
        // taken from
        isUrl.rx_url=/^(?:(?:https?|ftp):\/\/)?(?:\S+(?::\S*)[email protected])?(?:(?!(?:10|127)(?:\.\d{1,3}){3})(?!(?:169\.254|192\.168)(?:\.\d{1,3}){2})(?!172\.(?:1[6-9]|2\d|3[0-1])(?:\.\d{1,3}){2})(?:[1-9]\d?|1\d\d|2[01]\d|22[0-3])(?:\.(?:1?\d{1,2}|2[0-4]\d|25[0-5])){2}(?:\.(?:[1-9]\d?|1\d\d|2[0-4]\d|25[0-4]))|(?:(?:[a-z\u00a1-\uffff0-9]-*)*[a-z\u00a1-\uffff0-9]+)(?:\.(?:[a-z\u00a1-\uffff0-9]-*)*[a-z\u00a1-\uffff0-9]+)*(?:\.(?:[a-z\u00a1-\uffff]{2,}))\.?)(?::\d{2,5})?(?:[/?#]\S*)?$/i;
        // valid prefixes
        isUrl.prefixes=['http:\/\/', 'https:\/\/', 'ftp:\/\/', 'www.'];
        // taken from['com','ru','net','org','de','jp','uk','br','pl','in','it','fr','au','info','nl','ir','cn','es','cz','kr','ua','ca','eu','biz','za','gr','co','ro','se','tw','mx','vn','tr','ch','hu','at','be','dk','tv','me','ar','no','us','sk','xyz','fi','id','cl','by','nz','il','ie','pt','kz','io','my','lt','hk','cc','sg','edu','pk','su','bg','th','top','lv','hr','pe','club','rs','ae','az','si','ph','pro','ng','tk','ee','asia','mobi'];

    if (!isUrl.rx_url.test(s)) return false;
    for (let i=0; i<isUrl.prefixes.length; i++) if (s.startsWith(isUrl.prefixes[i])) return true;
    for (let i=0; i<; i++) if (s.endsWith('.'[i]) || s.includes('.'[i]+'\/') ||s.includes('.'[i]+'?')) return true;
    return false;

function isEmail(s) {
    if (!isEmail.rx_email) {
        // taken from
        var sQtext = '[^\\x0d\\x22\\x5c\\x80-\\xff]';
        var sDtext = '[^\\x0d\\x5b-\\x5d\\x80-\\xff]';
        var sAtom = '[^\\x00-\\x20\\x22\\x28\\x29\\x2c\\x2e\\x3a-\\x3c\\x3e\\x40\\x5b-\\x5d\\x7f-\\xff]+';
        var sQuotedPair = '\\x5c[\\x00-\\x7f]';
        var sDomainLiteral = '\\x5b(' + sDtext + '|' + sQuotedPair + ')*\\x5d';
        var sQuotedString = '\\x22(' + sQtext + '|' + sQuotedPair + ')*\\x22';
        var sDomain_ref = sAtom;
        var sSubDomain = '(' + sDomain_ref + '|' + sDomainLiteral + ')';
        var sWord = '(' + sAtom + '|' + sQuotedString + ')';
        var sDomain = sSubDomain + '(\\x2e' + sSubDomain + ')*';
        var sLocalPart = sWord + '(\\x2e' + sWord + ')*';
        var sAddrSpec = sLocalPart + '\\x40' + sDomain; // complete RFC822 email address spec
        var sValidEmail = '^' + sAddrSpec + '$'; // as whole string

        isEmail.rx_email = new RegExp(sValidEmail);

    return isEmail.rx_email.test(s);

will also recognize urls such as , , http://google.bla , but not google.bla

You can use a regex like this to extract normal url patterns.


If you need more sophisticated patterns, use a library like this.

Generic Object Oriented Solution

For people like me that use frameworks like angular that don't allow manipulating DOM directly, I created a function that takes a string and returns an array of url/plainText objects that can be used to create any UI representation that you want.

URL regex

For URL matching I used (slightly adapted) h0mayun regex: /(?:(?:https?:\/\/)|(?:www\.))[^\s]+/g

My function also drops punctuation characters from the end of a URL like . and , that I believe more often will be actual punctuation than a legit URL ending (but it could be! This is not rigorous science as other answers explain well) For that I apply the following regex onto matched URLs /^(.+?)([.,?!'"]*)$/.

Typescript code

    export function urlMatcherInText(inputString: string): UrlMatcherResult[] {
        if (! inputString) return [];

        const results: UrlMatcherResult[] = [];

        function addText(text: string) {
            if (! text) return;

            const result = new UrlMatcherResult();
            result.type = 'text';
            result.value = text;

        function addUrl(url: string) {
            if (! url) return;

            const result = new UrlMatcherResult();
            result.type = 'url';
            result.value = url;

        const findUrlRegex = /(?:(?:https?:\/\/)|(?:www\.))[^\s]+/g;
        const cleanUrlRegex = /^(.+?)([.,?!'"]*)$/;

        let match: RegExpExecArray;
        let indexOfStartOfString = 0;

        do {
            match = findUrlRegex.exec(inputString);

            if (match) {
                const text = inputString.substr(indexOfStartOfString, match.index - indexOfStartOfString);

                var dirtyUrl = match[0];
                var urlDirtyMatch = cleanUrlRegex.exec(dirtyUrl);

                indexOfStartOfString = match.index + dirtyUrl.length;
        while (match);

        const remainingText = inputString.substr(indexOfStartOfString, inputString.length - indexOfStartOfString);

        return results;

    export class UrlMatcherResult {
        public type: 'url' | 'text'
        public value: string

If you want to detect links with http:// OR without http:// OR ftp OR other possible cases like removing trailing punctuation at the end, take a look at this code.

A simple way to use that is to use NPM

npm install --save url-knife