Selecting text in an element (akin to highlighting with your mouse)


I would like to have users click a link, then it selects the HTML text in another element (not an input).

By "select" I mean the same way you would select text by dragging your mouse over it. This has been a bear to research because everyone talks about "select" or "highlight" in other terms.

Is this possible? My code so far:

HTML:

<a href="javascript:" onclick="SelectText('xhtml-code')">Select Code</a>
<code id="xhtml-code">Some Code here </code>

JS:

function SelectText(element) {
    $("#" + element).select();
}

Am I missing something blatantly obvious?

Plain Javascript

function selectText(node) {
    node = document.getElementById(node);

    if (document.body.createTextRange) {
        const range = document.body.createTextRange();
        range.moveToElementText(node);
        range.select();
    } else if (window.getSelection) {
        const selection = window.getSelection();
        const range = document.createRange();
        range.selectNodeContents(node);
        selection.removeAllRanges();
        selection.addRange(range);
    } else {
        console.warn("Could not select text in node: Unsupported browser.");
    }
}

const clickable = document.querySelector('.click-me');
clickable.addEventListener('click', () => selectText('target'));
<div id="target"><p>Some text goes here!</p><p>Moar text!</p></div>
<p class="click-me">Click me!</p>

Here is a working demo. For those of you looking for a jQuery plugin, I made one of those too.


jQuery (original answer)

I have found a solution for this in this thread. I was able to modify the info given and mix it with a bit of jQuery to create a totally awesome function to select the text in any element, regardless of browser:

function SelectText(element) {
    var text = document.getElementById(element);
    if ($.browser.msie) {
        var range = document.body.createTextRange();
        range.moveToElementText(text);
        range.select();
    } else if ($.browser.mozilla || $.browser.opera) {
        var selection = window.getSelection();
        var range = document.createRange();
        range.selectNodeContents(text);
        selection.removeAllRanges();
        selection.addRange(range);
    } else if ($.browser.safari) {
        var selection = window.getSelection();
        selection.setBaseAndExtent(text, 0, text, 1);
    }
}

Here's a version with no browser sniffing and no reliance on jQuery:

function selectElementText(el, win) {
    win = win || window;
    var doc = win.document, sel, range;
    if (win.getSelection && doc.createRange) {
        sel = win.getSelection();
        range = doc.createRange();
        range.selectNodeContents(el);
        sel.removeAllRanges();
        sel.addRange(range);
    } else if (doc.body.createTextRange) {
        range = doc.body.createTextRange();
        range.moveToElementText(el);
        range.select();
    }
}

selectElementText(document.getElementById("someElement"));
selectElementText(elementInIframe, iframe.contentWindow);

Jason's code can not be used for elements inside an iframe (as the scope differs from window and document). I fixed that problem and I modified it in order to be used as any other jQuery plugin (chainable):

Example 1: Selection of all text inside < code > tags with single click and add class "selected":

$(function() {
    $("code").click(function() {
        $(this).selText().addClass("selected");
    });
});

Example 2: On button click, select an element inside an Iframe:

$(function() {
    $("button").click(function() {
        $("iframe").contents().find("#selectme").selText();
    });
});

Note: remember that the iframe source should reside in the same domain to prevent security errors.

jQuery Plugin:

jQuery.fn.selText = function() {
    var obj = this[0];
    if ($.browser.msie) {
        var range = obj.offsetParent.createTextRange();
        range.moveToElementText(obj);
        range.select();
    } else if ($.browser.mozilla || $.browser.opera) {
        var selection = obj.ownerDocument.defaultView.getSelection();
        var range = obj.ownerDocument.createRange();
        range.selectNodeContents(obj);
        selection.removeAllRanges();
        selection.addRange(range);
    } else if ($.browser.safari) {
        var selection = obj.ownerDocument.defaultView.getSelection();
        selection.setBaseAndExtent(obj, 0, obj, 1);
    }
    return this;
}

I tested it in IE8, Firefox, Opera, Safari, Chrome (current versions). I'm not sure if it works in older IE versions (sincerely I don't care).


This thread contains really wonderful stuff. But I'm not able to do it right on this page using FF 3.5b99 + FireBug due to "Security Error".

Yipee!! I was able to select whole right hand sidebar with this code hope it helps you:

    var r = document.createRange();
    var w=document.getElementById("sidebar");  
    r.selectNodeContents(w);  
    var sel=window.getSelection(); 
    sel.removeAllRanges(); 
    sel.addRange(r); 

PS:- I was not able to use objects returned by jquery selectors like

   var w=$("div.welovestackoverflow",$("div.sidebar"));

   //this throws **security exception**

   r.selectNodeContents(w);

You can use the following function to select content of any element:

jQuery.fn.selectText = function(){
    this.find('input').each(function() {
        if($(this).prev().length == 0 || !$(this).prev().hasClass('p_copy')) { 
            $('<p class="p_copy" style="position: absolute; z-index: -1;"></p>').insertBefore($(this));
        }
        $(this).prev().html($(this).val());
    });
    var doc = document;
    var element = this[0];
    console.log(this, element);
    if (doc.body.createTextRange) {
        var range = document.body.createTextRange();
        range.moveToElementText(element);
        range.select();
    } else if (window.getSelection) {
        var selection = window.getSelection();        
        var range = document.createRange();
        range.selectNodeContents(element);
        selection.removeAllRanges();
        selection.addRange(range);
    }
};

This function can be called as follows:

$('#selectme').selectText();

I was searching for the same thing, my solution was this:

$('#el-id').focus().select();

I liked lepe's answer except for a few things:

  1. Browser-sniffing, jQuery or no isn't optimal
  2. DRY
  3. Doesn't work in IE8 if obj's parent doesn't support createTextRange
  4. Chrome's ability to use setBaseAndExtent should be leveraged (IMO)
  5. Will not select text spanning across multiple DOM elements (elements within the "selected" element). In other words if you call selText on a div containing multiple span elements, it will not select the text of each of those elements. That was a deal-breaker for me, YMMV.

Here's what I came up with, with a nod to lepe's answer for inspiration. I'm sure I'll be ridiculed as this is perhaps a bit heavy-handed (and actually could be moreso but I digress). But it works and avoids browser-sniffing and that's the point.

selectText:function(){

    var range,
        selection,
        obj = this[0],
        type = {
            func:'function',
            obj:'object'
        },
        // Convenience
        is = function(type, o){
            return typeof o === type;
        };

    if(is(type.obj, obj.ownerDocument)
        && is(type.obj, obj.ownerDocument.defaultView)
        && is(type.func, obj.ownerDocument.defaultView.getSelection)){

        selection = obj.ownerDocument.defaultView.getSelection();

        if(is(type.func, selection.setBaseAndExtent)){
            // Chrome, Safari - nice and easy
            selection.setBaseAndExtent(obj, 0, obj, $(obj).contents().size());
        }
        else if(is(type.func, obj.ownerDocument.createRange)){

            range = obj.ownerDocument.createRange();

            if(is(type.func, range.selectNodeContents)
                && is(type.func, selection.removeAllRanges)
                && is(type.func, selection.addRange)){
                // Mozilla
                range.selectNodeContents(obj);
                selection.removeAllRanges();
                selection.addRange(range);
            }
        }
    }
    else if(is(type.obj, document.body) && is(type.obj, document.body.createTextRange)) {

        range = document.body.createTextRange();

        if(is(type.obj, range.moveToElementText) && is(type.obj, range.select)){
            // IE most likely
            range.moveToElementText(obj);
            range.select();
        }
    }

    // Chainable
    return this;
}

That's it. Some of what you see is the for readability and/or convenience. Tested on Mac in latest versions of Opera, Safari, Chrome, Firefox and IE. Also tested in IE8. Also I typically only declare variables if/when needed inside code blocks but jslint suggested they all be declared up top. Ok jslint.

Edit I forgot to include how to tie this in to the op's code:

function SelectText(element) {
    $("#" + element).selectText();
}

Cheers


An Updated version that works in chrome:

function SelectText(element) {
    var doc = document;
    var text = doc.getElementById(element);    
    if (doc.body.createTextRange) { // ms
        var range = doc.body.createTextRange();
        range.moveToElementText(text);
        range.select();
    } else if (window.getSelection) {
        var selection = window.getSelection();
        var range = doc.createRange();
        range.selectNodeContents(text);
        selection.removeAllRanges();
        selection.addRange(range);

    }
}

$(function() {
    $('p').click(function() {
        SelectText("selectme");

    });
});

http://jsfiddle.net/KcX6A/326/


For any tag one can select all text inside that tag by this short and simple code. It will highlight the entire tag area with yellow colour and select text inside it on single click.

document.onclick = function(event) {
    var range, selection;
event.target.style.backgroundColor = 'yellow';
        selection = window.getSelection();
        range = document.createRange();
        range.selectNodeContents(event.target);
        selection.removeAllRanges();
        selection.addRange(range);
};

lepe - That works great for me thanks! I put your code in a plugin file, then used it in conjunction with an each statement so you can have multiple pre tags and multiple "Select all" links on one page and it picks out the correct pre to highlight:

<script type="text/javascript" src="../js/jquery.selecttext.js"></script>
<script type="text/javascript">
  $(document).ready(function() { 
        $(".selectText").each(function(indx) {
                $(this).click(function() {                 
                    $('pre').eq(indx).selText().addClass("selected");
                        return false;               
                    });
        });
  });


Have a look at the Selection object (Gecko engine) and the TextRange object (Trident engine.) I don't know about any JavaScript frameworks that have cross-browser support for this implemented, but I've never looked for it either, so it's possible that even jQuery has it.


Tim's method works perfectly for my case - selecting the text in a div for both IE and FF after I replaced the following statement:

range.moveToElementText(text);

with the following:

range.moveToElementText(el);

The text in the div is selected by clicking it with the following jQuery function:

$(function () {
    $("#divFoo").click(function () {
        selectElementText(document.getElementById("divFoo"));
    })
});

here is another simple solution to get the selected the text in the form of string, you can use this string easily to append a div element child into your code:

var text = '';

if (window.getSelection) {
    text = window.getSelection();

} else if (document.getSelection) {
    text = document.getSelection();

} else if (document.selection) {
    text = document.selection.createRange().text;
}

text = text.toString();

My particular use-case was selecting a text range inside an editable span element, which, as far as I could see, is not described in any of the answers here.

The main difference is that you have to pass a node of type Text to the Range object, as described in the documentation of Range.setStart():

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.

The Text node is the first child node of a span element, so to get it, access childNodes[0] of the span element. The rest is the same as in most other answers.

Here a code example:

var startIndex = 1;
var endIndex = 5;
var element = document.getElementById("spanId");
var textNode = element.childNodes[0];

var range = document.createRange();
range.setStart(textNode, startIndex);
range.setEnd(textNode, endIndex);

var selection = window.getSelection();
selection.removeAllRanges();
selection.addRange(range);

Other relevant documentation:
Range
Selection
Document.createRange()
Window.getSelection()


Added jQuery.browser.webkit to the "else if" for Chrome. Could not get this working in Chrome 23.

Made this script below for selecting the content in a <pre> tag that has the class="code".

jQuery( document ).ready(function() {
    jQuery('pre.code').attr('title', 'Click to select all');
    jQuery( '#divFoo' ).click( function() {
        var refNode = jQuery( this )[0];
        if ( jQuery.browser.msie ) {
            var range = document.body.createTextRange();
            range.moveToElementText( refNode );
            range.select();
        } else if ( jQuery.browser.mozilla || jQuery.browser.opera  || jQuery.browser.webkit ) {
            var selection = refNode.ownerDocument.defaultView.getSelection();
            console.log(selection);
            var range = refNode.ownerDocument.createRange();
            range.selectNodeContents( refNode );
            selection.removeAllRanges();
            selection.addRange( range );
        } else if ( jQuery.browser.safari ) {
            var selection = refNode.ownerDocument.defaultView.getSelection();
            selection.setBaseAndExtent( refNode, 0, refNode, 1 );
        }
    } );
} );

According to the jQuery documentation of select():

Trigger the select event of each matched element. This causes all of the functions that have been bound to that select event to be executed, and calls the browser's default select action on the matching element(s).

There is your explanation why the jQuery select() won't work in this case.