How do you get the cursor position in a textarea?

I have a textarea and I would like to know if I am on the last line in the textarea or the first line in the textarea with my cursor with JavaScript.

I thought of grabbing the position of the first newline character and the last newline character and then grabbing the position of the cursor.

var firstNewline = $('#myTextarea').val().indexOf('n');
var lastNewline = $('#myTextarea').val().lastIndexOf('n');

var cursorPosition = ?????;

if (cursorPosition < firstNewline)
    // I am on first line.
else if (cursorPosition > lastNewline)
    // I am on last line.
  • Is it possible to grab the cursor position within the textarea?
  • Do you have a better suggestion for finding out if I am on the first or last line of a textarea?

jQuery solutions preferred unless JavaScript is as simple or simpler.


Thank you for visiting the Q&A section on Magenaut. Please note that all the answers may not help you solve the issue immediately. So please treat them as advisements. If you found the post helpful (or not), leave a comment & I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Method 1

If there is no selection, you can use the properties .selectionStart or .selectionEnd (with no selection they’re equal).

var cursorPosition = $('#myTextarea').prop("selectionStart");

Note that this is not supported in older browsers, most notably IE8-. There you’ll have to work with text ranges, but it’s a complete frustration.

I believe there is a library somewhere which is dedicated to getting and setting selections/cursor positions in input elements, though. I can’t recall its name, but there seem to be dozens on articles about this subject.

Method 2

Here’s a cross browser function I have in my standard library:

function getCursorPos(input) {
    if ("selectionStart" in input && document.activeElement == input) {
        return {
            start: input.selectionStart,
            end: input.selectionEnd
    else if (input.createTextRange) {
        var sel = document.selection.createRange();
        if (sel.parentElement() === input) {
            var rng = input.createTextRange();
            for (var len = 0;
                     rng.compareEndPoints("EndToStart", rng) > 0;
                     rng.moveEnd("character", -1)) {
            rng.setEndPoint("StartToStart", input.createTextRange());
            for (var pos = { start: 0, end: len };
                     rng.compareEndPoints("EndToStart", rng) > 0;
                     rng.moveEnd("character", -1)) {
            return pos;
    return -1;

Use it in your code like this:

var cursorPosition = getCursorPos($('#myTextarea')[0])

Here’s its complementary function:

function setCursorPos(input, start, end) {
    if (arguments.length < 3) end = start;
    if ("selectionStart" in input) {
        setTimeout(function() {
            input.selectionStart = start;
            input.selectionEnd = end;
        }, 1);
    else if (input.createTextRange) {
        var rng = input.createTextRange();
        rng.moveStart("character", start);
        rng.moveEnd("character", end - start);;

Method 3

Here is code to get line number and column position

function getLineNumber(tArea) {

    return tArea.value.substr(0, tArea.selectionStart).split("n").length;

function getCursorPos() {
    var me = $("textarea[name='documenttext']")[0];
    var el = $(me).get(0);
    var pos = 0;
    if ('selectionStart' in el) {
        pos = el.selectionStart;
    } else if ('selection' in document) {
        var Sel = document.selection.createRange();
        var SelLength = document.selection.createRange().text.length;
        Sel.moveStart('character', -el.value.length);
        pos = Sel.text.length - SelLength;
    var ret = pos - prevLine(me);

    return ret; 

function prevLine(me) {
    var lineArr = me.value.substr(0, me.selectionStart).split("n");

    var numChars = 0;

    for (var i = 0; i < lineArr.length-1; i++) {
        numChars += lineArr[i].length+1;

    return numChars;

tArea is the text area DOM element

All methods was sourced from or, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

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