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JavaScript Event.defaultPrevented

David Walsh
Published: July 27, 2022

Whether you started with the old on_____ property or addEventListener, you know that events drive user experiences in modern JavaScript. If you’ve worked with events, you know that preventDefault() and stopPropagation() are frequently used to handle events. One thing you probably didn’t know: there’s a defaultPrevented proptery on events!

Consider the following block of code:

// Specific to a link
const link = document.querySelector('#my-link');
link.addEventListener('click', e => e.preventDefault());
// A larger document scope
document.addEventListener('click', documentClickHandler);
function documentClickHandler(event) {
    if (event.defaultPrevented) {// Using the property
        // Do one thing if the click has been handled
    }
    else {
        // Otherwise do something fresh
    }
}

When preventDefault is called on a given event, the defaultPrevented property gets toggled to true. Due to event propagation, the event bubbles upward with this defaultPrevented value.

I’ve been handling events for two decades and didn’t know this property existed until now. What’s great about defaultPrevented is that it stays with the event without needing to track track it globally!

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