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Avoiding Uncaught TypeErrors with the vanilla JS querySelector() method

The vanilla JS querySelector() method is amazing. It’s not familiar with it, it returns the first element that matches any selector or combination of selectors that you pass in as an argument.

// You can look for an element with a specific ID...

// or by a class...

// or data attribute.

// You can also combine selectors...

// Or nested them.
document.querySelector('#vegetables .tomato');

It brings the selector ease that was once only possible with jQuery to vanilla JS.

But, if you pass in a selector for an element that doesn’t exist and then try to do something with it, the browser with throw an Uncaught TypeError.

var notReal = document.querySelector('#this-does-not-exist');

// Uncaught TypeError: Cannot read property 'classList' of null

When querySelector() doesn’t find a match, it returns null. Because it’s not an element, methods like classList don’t exist on it, hence the error.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you check if the element exists first.

var notReal = document.querySelector('#this-does-not-exist');

// No error
if (notReal) {