Home > javascript, jquery > 6 jQuery snippets you can use to manipulate select inputs

6 jQuery snippets you can use to manipulate select inputs

When it comes to manipulating the DOM, fewer elements are more tiresome than the good old select input. Fortunately for us, jQuery makes what was once a headache, a walk in the park.

Listed below are 6 snippets which should make manipulating those selects more pleasant than say, pulling your own teeth.

1. Getting the value of a selected option.


This couldn’t be simpler. Remember how before jQuery, you had to use selectedIndex and all those lovely javascript methods. I do, and I don’t miss it one bit.

2. Getting the text of a selected option.

$('#selectList :selected').text();

Similar in concept to the first snippet with one difference. Where the first example gives you the “value” of the selected option, this example gives you the actual text contained inside the option tag.

3. Getting the text/value of multiple selected options.

var foo = [];
$('#multiple :selected').each(function(i, selected){
foo[i] = $(selected).text();
// to get the selected values, just use .val() - this returns a string or array
foo = $('#multiple :selected').val();

Once again, the same concept as the first two examples, except we’re now using jQuery’s “each()” method to loop through all selected options in a multiple select list. Each value or text value is read into an array for later use.

4. Using selected options in conditional statements

switch ($('#selectList :selected').text()) {
case 'First Option':
//do something
case 'Something Else':
// do something else


Much like example 2, we’re getting the text() value of a selected option, only this time we’re going to use it inside a switch statement.

5. Removing an option.

$("#selectList option[value='2']").remove();

Using an attribute filter, we can find and therefore manipulate specific options within a select list. In this example we’re telling jQuery to find the option with value=”2″ and then remove it from the select list. We can similarly add options to a select list as we’ll see in example 6.

6. Moving options from list A to list B.

$().ready(function() {
$('#add').click(function() {
return !$('#select1 option:selected').appendTo('#select2');
$('#remove').click(function() {
return !$('#select2 option:selected').appendTo('#select1');

Originally posted by Jeremy Martin, here we have 2 select lists and 2 buttons. If you click the “add” button, we remove the selected option from select1 and add that same option to select2. The “remove” button just does things the opposite way around. Thanks to jQuery’s chaining capabilities, what was once a rather tricky undertaking with JS can now be done in 6 lines of code.

And there you go. That wasn’t so bad now was it ? If you have any other handy snippets, or you’ve found an easier way to do something already covered here, why not leave a comment and share the love!


Incidentally, a few hours after first publishing this post I came across the following “select element cheat sheet”. Technically speaking, it may be a little big to be called a cheat sheet, but the author has given a very thorough and practical guide which I’m definitely going to be making use of.

  1. March 29, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    Good one Barry!

  2. ajpiano
    March 30, 2009 at 9:04 am

    jQuery doesn’t even support xPath anymore and using the @ in attribute selectors will break in > jQuery 1.3. I would tend to think using .val() on a multiple select would be preferable to the dom navigation/iteration method. So preferable, in fact, that the other really shouldn’t be considered an alternative. Furthermore, if you want to move options between selects, you can just .appendTo() without the .remove() first.

    • March 30, 2009 at 10:29 am

      Hi ajpiano,

      Thanks for the excellent response. I admittedly haven’t spent much time going through jQuery 1.3 just yet, so the I’m ashamed to admit that the lack of xpath support comes as a bit of a surprise to me.

      I’ll have a look at the code again and amend where necessary. Thanks again for taking the time to set me straight 🙂

  3. March 31, 2009 at 3:02 am

    Looks good.

  4. March 31, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    On the one hand, I love seeing people benefit from my blog – that’s what it’s there fore. But on the other hand, when fellow publishers copy and paste my content, line for line, I expect credit. The code in snippet 6 is, to the character, an excerpt from my code here: http://blog.jeremymartin.name/2008/02/easy-multi-select-transfer-with-jquery.html.

    I would like to give the benefit of the doubt, but you didn’t even bother to rename the button or multi select ID’s. Additionally (and ironically), as Ajpiano correctly pointed out, you even copied my unnecessary use of remove() before the appendTo().

    • March 31, 2009 at 8:04 pm

      Hi Jeremy,

      Thanks for commenting, much appreciated. I’d like to apologise for any offense caused. It was not my intention to take credit away from anyone and I will be updating the post accordingly. I did indeed copy-paste from your original post and stored it in my Snippely app. That was some time ago and I unfortunately couldn’t remember where the original code came from.

      Thanks again.

  5. March 31, 2009 at 8:25 pm

    Well in light of your comment, no offense taken 😉

    I apologize if I “came down” a little hard – I can see now how that was just an honest mistake. On a different note, keep up the good work!

    • April 1, 2009 at 8:19 am

      Not at all, I appreciate that you took the time to comment at all. Most people just don’t even bother.

      Thanks again 🙂

  6. April 15, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    Great article and collection of jQuery code snippets. I also like the jQuery Howto blog… it has collection of similar posts …

  7. kirubakar
    May 2, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Good thnx very much

  8. seeal
    May 12, 2009 at 10:35 am

    thx men¡¡ 🙂

  9. May 24, 2009 at 2:49 pm


  10. Wizz
    June 18, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Can I suggest a seventh tip?

    $('select#name option[value="2"]').attr('selected', 'selected');

    This code will select the element where …. Of course you can replace the number “2” by a variable.

  11. ajpiano
    August 4, 2009 at 8:32 pm


    You’re supposed to use .val() to set the value of a select. $(“#name”).val(2); would achieve same.

  12. September 24, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Good collection of jQuery snippets mate. I have also linked to yours from my blog post below where I am trying to collect the most useful and common jQuery code snippets for JavaScript over the web. Here is the title and the link to the jQuery link compilation endeavor:

    Ultimate collection of top jQuery tutorials, tips-tricks and techniques to improve performance


    • September 24, 2009 at 12:23 pm

      Thanks Shahriar 🙂 I’ve checked your post out, very cool.. keep it up and thanks for adding me to your list.

  13. October 14, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    Thanks, tip number 5 was really handy.

  14. Saleh
    December 28, 2009 at 11:00 am

    There is nothing better than a short condensed straight-to-the-point info source in this information age. Excellent post.

  15. parissa
    June 23, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    about Moving options from list A to list B.
    what if you do not want it removed from A but just copied to B. In this example it removes it from the list A and i want to keep my list A as it is.. any suggestions?

  16. Shizz m'Nizz
    December 9, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    yes, excellent post, except for the whole plagiarism part. *tsk tsk*

  17. bond
    February 22, 2011 at 4:44 am

    how can we remove certain options from Select list based on the text value of that option ?

    (note: it is not just the selected option , but some of the options need to be removed based on the text)

    e.g. I want to remove options that have the text starting with *


  18. mtay
    April 26, 2011 at 4:50 am

    thank you! this helped so much

  19. Sally
    July 5, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    This is great! Thanks. Now what about if you want to add a new option? Given the strings for text and value, how can you add a new one to the list dynamically?
    Thank you!

  20. October 6, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    i´m trying this:

    $(“#mySelect option:last”).bind(“click”, function(){



    but on chrome browser does not work, does anyone have solve this issue?

  1. March 30, 2009 at 3:48 pm
  2. March 31, 2009 at 2:43 am
  3. April 1, 2009 at 5:56 pm
  4. April 3, 2009 at 4:26 pm
  5. April 4, 2009 at 7:20 pm
  6. April 5, 2009 at 2:02 pm
  7. May 15, 2009 at 10:06 am
  8. May 27, 2009 at 3:04 am
  9. September 24, 2009 at 10:52 am
  10. October 12, 2009 at 8:28 pm
  11. October 15, 2009 at 2:36 am
  12. April 20, 2010 at 3:59 pm
  13. April 20, 2010 at 11:52 pm
  14. April 21, 2010 at 11:46 am
  15. April 21, 2010 at 3:28 pm
  16. April 22, 2010 at 7:13 pm
  17. May 10, 2010 at 4:39 am
  18. June 22, 2010 at 12:56 pm
  19. July 11, 2010 at 8:31 pm
  20. September 6, 2010 at 7:12 pm
  21. May 4, 2011 at 1:54 pm
  22. May 17, 2011 at 12:14 pm
  23. October 23, 2011 at 11:05 am
  24. January 21, 2012 at 1:20 pm
  25. April 17, 2012 at 9:57 pm

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