Binding and unbinding of event handlers

How to attach or detach a handler function to an event, such as click, focus, or submit.

Modern browsers support addEventListener() and removeEventListener() for adding or removing event handlers; IE 8 has its own methods. If you need to support both, use these little helpers as a replacement to jQuery's $.on() and $.off() methods:

function addEvent(el, type, handler) {
if (el.attachEvent) el.attachEvent('on'+type, handler); else el.addEventListener(type, handler);
function removeEvent(el, type, handler) {
    if (el.detachEvent) el.detachEvent('on'+type, handler); else el.removeEventListener(type, handler);

How to use:

var el = document.querySelector('textarea');

// attach anonymous function to click event
addEvent(el, 'click', function(){ console.log('Clicked!'); })

// attach a named function
var foo = function(){ console.log('Focused!'); };
addEvent(el, 'click', foo);

// remove a previously attached function
removeEvent(el, 'click', foo);

Anonymous functions used as event handler cannot be unbound. A reference to the function used for binding the event must be passed to removeEvent().

It's not required to unbind event handlers when removing DOM elements. JavaScript's garbage collection will take care of it and free up the reserved memory.

w3schools offers a useful list of available HTML DOM events. These are HTML attribute names; when binding/unbinding events with the above given helper function, omit the "on" prefix of the name to get the event type. For example, use "mouseup" instead of "onmouseup".

Alternatively, you can also set the event attribute of an element directly. But it's only possible to assign one handler per element:

var el = document.querySelector('textarea');

// set callback
el.onblur = function(){ console.log('Blurred textarea'); };

// remove callback
delete el.onblur;

// assign handler to window object
window.onload = function(){ alert('Window has loaded.'); };

Use the "on" prefix for setting and removing properties such as onblur or onclick of elements.

Read up on how to live bind events in vanilla JavaScript.