In JavaScript, how to handle Tab key press?

Handling the Tab key press in JavaScript can be useful for improving or customizing user interaction with webpage components, typically form inputs or custom widgets. To detect a Tab key press, you can use JavaScript event listeners on specific elements or the whole document, depending on your needs.

Here's an example of how you might catch a Tab key press using JavaScript and then execute some custom code:

document.addEventListener('keydown', function(event) {
    // Check if the Tab key was pressed
    if (event.key === 'Tab') {
        // Prevent the default tab behavior (e.g., moving to the next input)
        // Insert custom behavior here
        console.log('Tab key was pressed!');
        // Additional custom code here
        // For example, you might want to move focus to another part of your application
        // document.getElementById('someElementId').focus();


  • addEventListener: This method is used to attach a 'keydown' event listener to the entire document, which listens for all keydown events that occur.
  • event.key: This property of the event object tells us which key was pressed. When the user presses the Tab key, event.key will be equal to 'Tab'.
  • event.preventDefault(): This method stops the default action of the key press in this context. For the Tab key, it typically prevents moving the focus to the next focusable element. This is useful if you want to define a custom behavior instead.

Here is a live example:

Customizing for Specific Elements:

If you only want to capture the Tab key press for a specific element (like an input field), you can attach the event listener to just that element:

var input = document.getElementById('myInput');

input.addEventListener('keydown', function(event) {
    if (event.key === 'Tab') {
        // Prevent default tab operation
        // You can add any custom behavior here
        console.log('Tab pressed while focusing on input');


Handling the Tab key and overriding its default behavior should be done with caution as it can significantly change how a user interacts with a webpage. Accessibility concerns should be considered (e.g., ensure that custom tab behaviors do not make the page less accessible to users who rely on keyboard navigation). Make sure to test any changes extensively to see how they affect the user experience, particularly for those relying on assistive technologies.