Which HTML Elements Can Receive Focus

Which HTML elements can receive focus?

There isn't a definite list, it's up to the browser. The only standard we have is DOM Level 2 HTML, according to which the only elements that have a focus() method are
HTMLInputElement, HTMLSelectElement, HTMLTextAreaElement and HTMLAnchorElement. This notably omits HTMLButtonElement and HTMLAreaElement.

Today's browsers define focus() on HTMLElement, but an element won't actually take focus unless it's one of:

  • HTMLAnchorElement/HTMLAreaElement with an href
  • HTMLInputElement/HTMLSelectElement/HTMLTextAreaElement/HTMLButtonElement but not with disabled (IE actually gives you an error if you try), and file uploads have unusual behaviour for security reasons
  • HTMLIFrameElement (though focusing it doesn't do anything useful). Other embedding elements also, maybe, I haven't tested them all.
  • Any element with a tabindex

There are likely to be other subtle exceptions and additions to this behaviour depending on browser.

Can multiple HTML elements receive focus at the same time?

No, you can only focus on one element at a time.

Make div element receive focus

Set the tabindex="0" on the div, on the assumption that you want the divs to receive focus, rather than child elements.

Updated the answer to add a JS Fiddle demo, showing a JavaScript means of achieving this:

var divs = document.getElementsByTagName('div');
for (var i = 0, len = divs.length; i < len; i++){
divs[i].setAttribute('tabindex', '0');

JS Fiddle demo.

While composing the demo I found that tabindex="-1" allows the element to receive mouse-clicks to assign focus, but not keyboard events (through the tab button), however (and as implied in the comment, earlier, by Fabricio Matté, a tabindex="0" allows for both). So I've used that in the demo, and updated the original answer to reflect that change.

Behavior of tabindex="0" versus tabindex="-1" documented here: https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/Accessibility/Keyboard-navigable_JavaScript_widgets#Using_tabindex

Make an HTML element non-focusable

<a href="http://foo.bar" tabindex="-1">unfocusable</a>

A negative value means that the element should be focusable, but should not be reachable via sequential keyboard navigation.

See also: developer.mozilla.org

How to check if a dom element is focusable?

Answer "translated" from here: Which HTML elements can receive focus?

  • <a> or <area> with href
  • Any form elements which aren't disabled
  • iframes
  • Any element with tabindex

Additionaly, I believe that hidden elements can't get focus also.

Assuming that conditions, the following function may help you (assuming it'll always receive an jQuery element):

function canFocus( $el ) {
if ( $el.is( ":hidden" ) || $el.is( ":disabled" ) ) {
return false;

var tabIndex = +$el.attr( "tabindex" );
tabIndex = isNaN( tabIndex ) ? -1 : tabIndex;
return $el.is( ":input, a[href], area[href], iframe" ) || tabIndex > -1;

How to disable focus on specific html elements?

The tabindex attribute controls tabbing. Set it to -1 and the tab key will not stop on that element.

<button tabindex="-1">click me</button>

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