Javascript – Clearing an HTML file upload field via JavaScript

file-uploadhtmljavascriptjquery

I want to reset a file upload field when the user selects another option.

Is this possible via JavaScript? I'm suspecting that the file upload element is treated differently because it interacts with the user's file system, and maybe it's immutable.

Basically, what I want is something like (pseudo-code):

// Choose selecting existing file
$('#select-file').bind('focus', function() {
  // Clear any files currently selected in #upload-file
  $('#upload-file').val(''); 
}) ;

// Choose uploading new one - this works ok
$('#upload-file').bind('focus', function() {
  // Clear any files currently selected in #select-file
  $('#select-file').val(''); 
}) ;

NB: This question and its answers span the period from 2009 to today. Browsers and approaches have changed in that time, please select your solutions with this in mind 🙂

Best Solution

You can't set the input value in most browsers, but what you can do is create a new element, copy the attributes from the old element, and swap the two.

Given a form like:

<form> 
    <input id="fileInput" name="fileInput" type="file" /> 
</form>

The straight DOM way:

function clearFileInput(id) 
{ 
    var oldInput = document.getElementById(id); 

    var newInput = document.createElement("input"); 

    newInput.type = "file"; 
    newInput.id = oldInput.id; 
    newInput.name = oldInput.name; 
    newInput.className = oldInput.className; 
    newInput.style.cssText = oldInput.style.cssText; 
    // TODO: copy any other relevant attributes 

    oldInput.parentNode.replaceChild(newInput, oldInput); 
}

clearFileInput("fileInput");

Simple DOM way. This may not work in older browsers that don't like file inputs:

oldInput.parentNode.replaceChild(oldInput.cloneNode(), oldInput);

The jQuery way:

$("#fileInput").replaceWith($("#fileInput").val('').clone(true));

// .val('') required for FF compatibility as per @nmit026

Resetting the whole form via jQuery: https://stackoverflow.com/a/13351234/1091947