Say for instance that you want to open the file select dialogue for a user to select an file to upload. Like a photo, pdf or any other file type. However, you don’t want to use the standard file input HTML element, instead use a styled link or button to show the file window.

You might have tried hiding the file select element on the page and then triggering a click event when the link is clicked. This does not work if you use the CSS property visibility:hidden you need to use display:none for the click event to work and show the dialogue. The issue with having the file select element in the html is when you try to reselect more files, it does not clear the file data correctly. You will end up having strange errors and the only way to fix this is to recreate the input file element by removing it and re-adding it.

By creating the file input element using JavaScript and triggering a click from a button click event you won’t have this issue, because you won’t need to manage the HTML file input.

var fileSelector = document.createElement('input');
fileSelector.setAttribute('type', 'file');

var selectDialogueLink = document.createElement('a');
selectDialogueLink.setAttribute('href', '');
selectDialogueLink.innerText = "Select File";

selectDialogueLink.onclick = function () {;
     return false;


Example using React JS

function buildFileSelector(){
  const fileSelector = document.createElement('input');
  fileSelector.setAttribute('type', 'file');
  fileSelector.setAttribute('multiple', 'multiple');
  return fileSelector;

class FileDialogue extends React.Component {
    this.fileSelector = buildFileSelector();
  handleFileSelect = (e) => {
    return <a href="" onClick={this.handleFileSelect}>Select files</a>

See my Codepen using React JS to open a file dialogue.

Example using jQuery:

var selectDialogueLink = $('<a href="">Select files</a>');
var fileSelector = $('<input type="file">');{;
    return false;

This can be further enhanced by making the file dialogue capable of selecting multiple files. This is an HTML 5 feature so its not available in older browsers. See examples below:

// Plain JavaScript
fileSelector.setAttribute('multiple', 'multiple');

// jQuery - change the file select
var fileSelector = $('<input type="file" multiple="">');

Now you can open a file select dialogue without the file element being present in the html.

The next step is how to get the file information out ready to upload. I will explain in my next post, getting and preview selected images using JavaScript.