Back to the lesson

Why "return false" doesn't work?

importance: 3

Why in the code below return false doesn’t work at all?

<script>
  function handler() {
    alert( "..." );
    return false;
  }
</script>

<a href="http://w3.org" onclick="handler()">the browser will go to w3.org</a>

The browser follows the URL on click, but we don’t want it.

How to fix?

When the browser reads the on* attribute like onclick, it creates the handler from its content.

For onclick="handler()" the function will be:

function(event) {
  handler() // the content of onclick
}

Now we can see that the value returned by handler() is not used and does not affect the result.

The fix is simple:

<script>
  function handler() {
    alert("...");
    return false;
  }
</script>

<a href="http://w3.org" onclick="return handler()">w3.org</a>

Also we can use event.preventDefault(), like this:

<script>
  function handler(event) {
    alert("...");
    event.preventDefault();
  }
</script>

<a href="http://w3.org" onclick="handler(event)">w3.org</a>