Set Input value using a Ref in React

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Borislav Hadzhiev

Sat Apr 23 20222 min read

Set Input value using a Ref in React #

To set an input field's value using a ref in React:

  1. Set the ref prop on the input element.
  2. When a certain event is triggered, update the ref's value.
  3. For example, ref.current.value = 'New value'.
App.js
import {useRef} from 'react'; const App = () => { const inputRef = useRef(null); function handleClick() { // 👇️ update input value inputRef.current.value = 'New value'; // 👇️ access input value console.log(inputRef.current.value); } return ( <div> <input ref={inputRef} type="text" id="message" name="message" /> <button onClick={handleClick}>Log message</button> </div> ); }; export default App;

set input value using ref

The example uses an uncontrolled input. Notice that the input field does not have an onChange prop or value set.

When using uncontrolled input fields, we access the input using a ref.

The useRef() hook can be passed an initial value as an argument. The hook returns a mutable ref object whose .current property is initialized to the passed argument.

Notice that we have to access the current property on the ref object to get access to the input element on which we set the ref prop.

When we pass a ref prop to an element, e.g. <input ref={myRef} />, React sets the .current property of the ref object to the corresponding DOM node.

The useRef hook creates a plain JavaScript object, but gives you the same ref object on every render. In other words, it's pretty much a memoized object value with a .current property.

It should be noted that when you change the value of the current property of the ref, no re-renders are caused.

Every time the user clicks on the button in the example, the value of the uncontrolled input gets updated.

If you need to clear the value of the input field, set its value to an empty string, e.g. inputRef.current.value = ''.

You shouldn't set the value prop on an uncontrolled input (an input field that doesn't have an onChange handler) because that would make the input field immutable and you wouldn't be able to type in it.

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