Is there a jQuery selector to get all elements that can get focus?

From the other SO answer referred to by the OP:

Today’s browsers define focus() on HTMLElement, …

So, this means testing for focus as a member of the element is not effective, because all elements will have it, regardless of whether they actually accept focus or not.

…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

So, what about naming all those explicitly in a jQuery Selector?

$('a[href], area[href], input:not([disabled]), select:not([disabled]), textarea:not([disabled]), button:not([disabled]), iframe, object, embed, *[tabindex], *[contenteditable]')

Update #1:

I updated your jsFiddle here. It appears to work.

I also added elements with attribute contenteditable to the list above.

Update #2:

As @jfriend00 pointed out, “Depending upon the use, one may want to filter out elements that aren’t visible”. To accomplish this, simply apply .filter(‘:visible’) to the set generated from the above selector.

Update #3:

As Xavin pointed out: jQuery UI now has a selector, :focusable, that performs this function. If you’re already using jQuery UI, this might be the way to go. If not, then you might want to check out how jQuery UI does it. In any case, the description on jQuery UI’s page for :focusable is helpful:

Elements of the following type are focusable if they are not disabled: input, select, textarea, button, and object. Anchors are focusable if they have an href or tabindex attribute. area elements are focusable if they are inside a named map, have an href attribute, and there is a visible image using the map. All other elements are focusable based solely on their tabindex attribute and visibility.

So, the selector I proposed above is close, but it fails to account for a few nuances.

Here’s the function ripped from jQuery UI, with minor adaptations to make it self-contained. (the adaptations are untested, but should work):

function focusable( element ) {
    var map, mapName, img,
        nodeName = element.nodeName.toLowerCase(),
        isTabIndexNotNaN = !isNaN( $.attr( element, "tabindex" ) );
    if ( "area" === nodeName ) {
        map = element.parentNode;
        mapName =;
        if ( !element.href || !mapName || map.nodeName.toLowerCase() !== "map" ) {
            return false;
        img = $( "img[usemap=#" + mapName + "]" )[0];
        return !!img && visible( img );
    return ( /input|select|textarea|button|object/.test( nodeName ) ?
        !element.disabled :
        "a" === nodeName ?
            element.href || isTabIndexNotNaN :
            isTabIndexNotNaN) &&
        // the element and all of its ancestors must be visible
        visible( element );

    function visible( element ) {
      return $.expr.filters.visible( element ) &&
        !$( element ).parents().addBack().filter(function() {
          return $.css( this, "visibility" ) === "hidden";

Note: the above function still depends on jQuery, but should not require jQuery UI.

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