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Prevent the default action of an event

Written byPhuoc Nguyen
10 Mar, 2020
Last updated
09 Dec, 2023
Level 1 — Basic

1. Return `false` for the `on<event>`

ele.onclick = function(e) {
// Do some thing

return false;
It's the same if you inline the attribute:
<button type="submit" onclick="return false">Click</button>
I don't recommend this approach because
  • Returning `false` just doesn't make sense
  • It doesn't work with the addEventListener() method

2. Use the `preventDefault()` method

This method works with inline attribute
<button type="submit" onclick="event.preventDefault()">Click</button>
and event handlers:
ele.onclick = function(e) {

// Do some thing

ele.addEventListener('click', function(e) {

Use cases

  1. Don't follow a link when clicking it. We often use this when creating tabs.
  2. Don't submit the form when clicking its submit button. For example, we want to validate the form first.
  3. Don't open a file or download the file when dragging and dropping a file to a given area.
  4. Show a custom context menu when right-clicking an element.

See also

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Phước Nguyễn