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How to filter items in an array with vanilla JavaScript

Today, we’re going to look at the Array.filter() method, and how you can use it to filter items in array and create a new one. Let’s dig in!

An example

Let’s imagine you have an array of numbers.

let numbers = [1, 42, 7, 3, 99, 101, 4];

You want to create a new array that contains only the numbers that are bigger than 10.

Traditionally, you might use a for...of loop and the Array.push() method to handle this for you.

// Create a new array
let biggerThanTen = [];

// Push numbers bigger than 10 into it
for (let num of numbers) {
	if (num > 10) {

Here’s a demo.

The Array.filter() method simplifies this.

How the Array.filter() method works

You call the Array.filter() method on an array, and pass in a callback function that accepts three arguments: the current item in the loop, its index, and the array itself. All three are optional.

Inside the callback function, you can test the current item against whatever conditions you’d like to filter against.

If you return true, the item is included in the new array. If you return a falsy response, it’s not.

// Create a new array with only numbers greater than 10
let biggerThanTen = numbers.filter(function (item) {
	return item > 10;

Here’s another demo.

A use case for the optional array parameter

My buddy Kieran Barker pointed out a good use case for the optional array parameter on the callback function: running the same callback function on multiple arrays.

For example, let’s imagine you’re using the Array.filter() method to remove duplicates from an array.

let wizards = ['Gandalf', 'Merlin', 'Radagast', 'Merlin', 'Gandalf'];

Here, Gandalf and Merlin are both in the array of wizards twice. We want a new array with each entry only in there once.

We can use the Array.filter() method to compare the current index to the indexOf() property. If they don’t match, the item is a duplicate and we can ignore it.

let uniqueWizards = wizards.filter(function (wizard, index) {
	return index === wizards.indexOf(wizard);

With one array, we can just point to the existing array. But what if you want to do this with multiple arrays?

let wizards = ['Gandalf', 'Merlin', 'Radagast', 'Merlin', 'Gandalf'];
let pirates = ['Blackbeard', 'Blackbeard', 'Calico Jack'];

We can create a named callback function, and use the third array parameter instead of referencing a named array.

function removeDuplicates (item, index, array) {
	return index === array.indexOf(item);

// Remove duplicates
let uniqueWizards = wizards.filter(removeDuplicates);
let uniquePirates = pirates.filter(removeDuplicates);

Now, our code is DRY.

Here’s one last demo.