Make a draggable element

Assume that we want to turn the following element to draggable element:

<div id="dragMe" class="draggable">Drag me</div>

The element needs to have the following styles:

.draggable {
/* Indicate the element draggable */
cursor: move;

/* It will be positioned absolutely */
position: absolute;

/* Doesn't allow to select the content inside */
user-select: none;

In order to make it draggable, we need to handle three events:

  • mousedown on the element: Track the current position of mouse
  • mousemove on document: Calculate how far the mouse has been moved, and determine the position of element
  • mouseup on document: Remove the event handlers of document
// The current position of mouse
let x = 0;
let y = 0;

// Query the element
const ele = document.getElementById('dragMe');

// Handle the mousedown event
// that's triggered when user drags the element
const mouseDownHandler = function(e) {
// Get the current mouse position
x = e.clientX;
y = e.clientY;

// Attach the listeners to `document`
document.addEventListener('mousemove', mouseMoveHandler);
document.addEventListener('mouseup', mouseUpHandler);

const mouseMoveHandler = function(e) {
// How far the mouse has been moved
const dx = e.clientX - x;
const dy = e.clientY - y;

// Set the position of element = `${ele.offsetTop + dy}px`; = `${ele.offsetLeft + dx}px`;

// Reassign the position of mouse
x = e.clientX;
y = e.clientY;

const mouseUpHandler = function() {
// Remove the handlers of `mousemove` and `mouseup`
document.removeEventListener('mousemove', mouseMoveHandler);
document.removeEventListener('mouseup', mouseUpHandler);

ele.addEventListener('mousedown', mouseDownHandler);


This post uses the Attach event handlers inside other handlers tip.

Use cases

We can use the technique in this post to

  1. Create a range slider
  2. Create an image comparison slider
  3. Create resizable split views
  4. Drag to scroll
  5. Resize columns of a table



Get the size of an image
Make a resizable element